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April 6, 2021

U.S residential propane prices increased 30% during the winter heating season

U.S. weekly residential propane prices
Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, State Heating Oil and Propane Program

According to the Heating Oil and Propane Update, the average residential price of propane in the United States averaged $2.30 per gallon (gal) as of March 29, which was nearly 43 cents/gal higher than at the same time last year. U.S. average residential propane prices increased by more than 52 cents/gal, or 30%, during the 2020–2021 heating season, which began October 1 and ended March 31. The increase in prices can be attributed primarily to higher crude oil prices, seasonal withdrawals from propane inventory, and increased global demand for U.S. propane exports. This price change was the largest within-season increase in residential propane prices since the 2013–2014 season when propane markets tightened because of a polar vortex and low inventories.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2019 American Community Survey, propane is the primary home heating fuel in 5% of U.S. homes and tends to be more common in the Northeast and Midwest. At least 14% of homes in Vermont, New Hampshire, South Dakota, North Dakota, and Montana use propane as their primary heating fuel.

propane as primary home heating fuel by state
Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, based on U.S. Census Bureau American Community Survey 2019

U.S. propane inventories declined more than last year during the 2020–2021 winter heating season because of increases in seasonal U.S. propane exports to Asia. As of March 26, total U.S. propane inventory levels were 39.2 million barrels, 34% less than at the same time last year, while inventories in the Northeast (PADDs 1A and 1B) were 12% less and in the Midwest (PADD 2) were 14% less than at the same time last year.

Our Heating Oil and Propane Update is published as part of the State Heating Oil and Propane Program (SHOPP), a joint effort with several state energy offices to collect state-level residential heating oil and propane price data from October through March in states where heating oil and propane use is common. SHOPP collects residential propane prices for 38 states and provides wholesale propane prices for 23 states. We publish weekly SHOPP price data each Wednesday at 1:00 p.m. Eastern Time on the Winter Heating Fuels and Heating Oil and Propane Update web pages.

Principal contributors: Sean Hill, Marcela Bradbury