Propane and gas fireplaces have become extremely popular over recent years, and there are good reasons for it. Fireplaces bring a cozy vibe into your home and help keep you warm during the cooler months.
They’re also nice for adding some ambiance to your environment when you have guests over. Plus, who doesn’t love sitting around a warm fire?
Most people may only think of the costs associated with just running the fireplace, but not many people tend to think about the cost of keeping the pilot light on.
So, how much does a fireplace pilot light use? On average, a pilot light can use anywhere between 5 to 12 therms of gas every month. With the price of propane averaging around $3, the pilot light alone can cost about $15-36 per month.
While that may not seem like a lot of money to some, it can add up quickly. On a yearly basis, the total cost of propane for running the pilot light would average from $180-432. When you think of it on a long-term basis, this is a fairly large expense for a small flame.
So that poses the question, how much propane does a fireplace pilot light actually use? In this article, we will go over everything you need to know so that you can keep your monthly costs low and utilize your propane usage.
Table of Contents
What Is A Pilot Light?
Before we get into the details about how much it costs to keep a pilot light on, it’s important for you to know what a pilot light is and what it actually does.
If you’re anything like me, you may have thought that your fireplace just turns on at the flip of a switch, however, this is not exactly the case.
In order for your fireplace to start as quickly as you flip the switch, it needs to be ignited from another source of fire. This source is called the pilot light.
A pilot light is essentially a small flame that stays lit on the inside of the fireplace to make your fireplace start quickly and efficiently.
For the flame to stay constantly lit, it needs a source of gas or propane to keep it running. Unless you manually turn it off, your fireplace pilot light is always going to be running and using gas.
While the pilot light doesn’t use nearly as much gas as the fireplace does when it is running, it is still significant enough to be aware of.
How Much Propane Does It Use?
People who run their fireplaces on propane often don’t have access to natural gas on their property. Propane is a great alternative for being able to still run your appliances without having access to those natural gas lines.
That being said, this convenience also comes with a cost.
As mentioned above, to keep a fireplace pilot light on, it needs to constantly be using some of your gas supply. Since the flame of the pilot light is very small it doesn’t require a lot of gas, however, over long periods of time this usage can add up.
How much gas your pilot light uses will depend on each specific pilot light. Older pilot lights tend to use a bit more gas than newer pilot lights, just because of the ways they’ve been made over time.
“On average, a pilot light can use anywhere between 5 to 12 therms of gas every month. With the price of propane averaging around $3, the pilot light alone can cost about $15-36 per month.”
On a side note, that doesn’t even include the cost of running your fireplace or any of the other appliances in your house that run off of propane.
All that considered, these appliances can add up to make some high gas expenses.
Does Natural Gas Use More Or Less?
The amount of gas needed to run your pilot light won’t change whether you are using propane or natural gas. The only difference between the two would be the cost. Natural gas is almost 3 times cheaper than the cost of propane.
What makes propane more expensive is that it is produced from both crude oil refining and natural gas processing. The price of propane is often reflective of crude oil prices, which tend to be more expensive than natural gas. Natural gas is simply easier and cheaper to produce, so it is priced accordingly.
Using the pricing example above, a pilot light running on natural gas may cost anywhere between $6-13 per month, although it usually averages to about $8-10. If we look at this cost on a yearly basis, that would be about $96-120 on average. This is a huge difference compared to propane.
If you have access to natural gas, it wouldn’t make sense for you to run your fireplace or fireplace pilot light using propane. The best option for running any appliance would be with natural gas over propane.
If acquiring natural gas is a potential option, it may be good to invest in having natural gas lines installed on your property for those who don’t have them already.
If you add up the yearly expenses of all your propane usage, the initial cost of getting natural gas to your home is usually less expensive.
Should A Pilot Light Always Stay On?
At this point you may be wondering, is it necessary to always keep your pilot light on? The answer is slightly subjective, and it varies depending on the time of the year.
Keeping your pilot light on can have quite a few pros and cons, so make sure you are familiar with them before you decide.
- Increases the temperature of your home, which is great during winter
- Keeps moisture low and prevents corrosion
- Prevents spiders from coming around
- Allows you to turn your fireplace quickly and easily on
- Costs more to keep running
- Increases the temperature of your home, which is bad during summer
- Can create a film around the glass front or doors
Something that is both a pro and a con is that a pilot light on will result in some extra heat. While the pilot light is small, it is still a flame and naturally, it will create heat.
During the winter, this heat is usually welcomed and helps to make your house consistently warmer, however, during the summer you may not want this to happen.
While your pilot light is running, it is doing a few other things than just creating a flame. Keeping the gas constantly running will keep moisture away from the pipes and the entire fireplace.
This helps to prevent corrosion in the gas pipes and will help keep the quality at its best.
Something that people don’t know is that running your pilot light also keeps spiders away. This is because there is a compound in propane that spiders are attracted to.
When the pilot light is running, it is too hot for spiders to get near it, but when the pilot light is off this compound may attract them.
As mentioned above, keeping your pilot light on also comes with higher costs. You will pay more for using propane so turning it off can help you save money.
Since the pilot light is creating a constant flame inside the fireplace, it can also alter or create a film around the glass front or doors. Turning it off will potentially save the appearance.
Considering all the information above, it may be worth it for you to keep the pilot light on or turn it off. A pilot light is such a small feature to a fireplace but its usage can add up over time.
To those who don’t mind paying the money, then it may be worth it to keep it running.
For those who like to save money and resources, then turning the pilot light off during seasons where you won’t be running the fireplace may be a better option.
If you do end up turning your pilot light off, you’ll want to make sure that the quality is maintained though.
Turning off your pilot light for a few months may not have any effect on the gas lines, however, if it gets too moist it may corrode and spiders may create webs in or around it which can make it hard to light back up.
There are easy ways to prevent these things from occurring, so don’t let it sway you one way or another.
The cost of propane will vary also depending on the month and your location so it is also important to look at how much running the pilot light is actually costing you. In times where propane is cheaper, it may not be worth the hassle to turn it off.
Overall, it is best to consider your specific situation and make a decision accordingly. Most people tend to leave their pilot lights on during the winter and turn them off during the summer.
If you end up having a cold night during a time when your pilot light is turned off, you can always turn it back on to use and then back off to save money.
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