Retail propane sales reach 10 billion gallons in annual report

February 11, 2021 By    

If ever there was a doubt about propane’s widespread use across the U.S. and its importance as a versatile energy source relied upon daily by millions of Americans, look no further than the latest report tracking annual retail gallon sales.

Propane sales topped 10 billion gallons for the first time in over a decade, according to data compiled in the Annual Retail Propane Sales Report for 2019, prepared by ICF for the Propane Education & Research Council (PERC) and released this past December.

Not since 2007 has the propane industry hit that high mark for recorded odorized gallon sales. While it’s worth noting that data collection processes and vendors have changed in recent years, having new research record 10 billion again is a victory for the industry nonetheless. It’s also a testament to the tens of thousands of hardworking employees who make those sales – those solutions for customers’ energy needs – possible.

While in our estimation the total gallon sales figure headlines the 33-page report, a number of other notables and trends caught our attention:

Trending upward: Total propane sales grew for the second straight year in ICF’s research – and three straight years if you count the American Petroleum Institute’s role in the annual project previously. The 2019 total (10.15 billion gallons) was about 9 percent higher than the 2018 output of 9.3 billion. The industry sold 8.2 billion gallons in 2017.

Areas of success: So how did the industry reach the 10-billion-gallon mark again? For starters, the report indicates the majority of gains took place in the residential market. More propane-heated households and colder weather overall in 2019 – fueling an increase in winter heating load – contributed to the gallon sales growth compared to 2018. About 6 million households use propane as their primary space heating fuel, up 4 percent from 2018.

Residential reigns: Residential gallons accounted for 58 percent of total sales, followed by the commercial market at 20 percent. Propane water heating and other appliances such as cooking and clothes drying are also contributing to a rise in propane usage per household, according to the report. Also, a look at individual market sectors shows a 25 percent increase in reported sales for internal combustion applications due in part to better reporting by the industry.

Regional glance: Most of the increase in propane gallon sales occurred in the Midwest, which accounted for the highest volume of propane sales (40.7 percent). Meanwhile, the Northeast continued to grow its number of propane-heated households, increasing by 14 percent compared to 2018. The South continued to lose propane households, by 1.5 percent compared to 2018, in its ongoing fight against electricity. The warmer South was also one exception to the cold weather successes enjoyed by other regions in 2019.

The top 10: Who doesn’t like a good list? In 2019, Michigan sold the most retail propane gallons for the second straight year, buoyed also by its No. 1 ranking in residential market sales. Minnesota passed California and finished runner-up. Here’s the full list:

  • Michigan – 587 million gallons
  • Minnesota – 559
  • California – 556
  • Iowa – 544
  • Illinois – 505
  • Wisconsin – 488
  • Texas – 449
  • New York – 432
  • Pennsylvania – 402
  • North Carolina – 364

State leaders: Michigan’s a mainstay in the residential market, as is Iowa in agricultural gallons. California sold the most fuel in the commercial, cylinder and internal combustion sectors. Also, did you know that behind Alaska’s 11,844 heating degree-days (HDD), North Dakota had the most HDD in the U.S. in 2019 with 9,961? Minnesota was a close third with 9,111.

PERC’s website has the full report, at

Featured image: tttuna/E+/Getty Images

About the Author:

Brian Richesson is the editor in chief of LP Gas Magazine. Contact him at or 216-706-3748.

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