Originally published by the Propane Council
Some of your home’s most critical functions run at their best when they’re fueled by gas. But not everyone has access to natural gas for their home. You may live in a more rural area, or perhaps a body of water or road blocks the pipeline.
That’s where propane comes in. Propane is available virtually anywhere because it’s stored on your property and delivered by a propane professional. And propane homes offer a number of advantages over all-electric homes.
PROPANE WORKS HARDER
Performance is the number one reason most people choose propane. After all, it can efficiently and effectively meet nearly all of your home’s major energy needs, inside and out, from space heating and water heating to outdoor flame lighting and fire pits.
PROPANE SAVES MONEY
Propane appliances are extremely energy efficient, and can save you hundreds, possibly even thousands, of dollars in annual energy costs. And propane itself is abundant, and competitively priced compared with electricity, heating oil, or other fuels. Everyone wants to cut energy costs; Haigood & Campbell in Wichita Falls will help you do it.
PROPANE IS UNBEATABLY CLEAN
For homeowners interested in lowering their carbon footprint, propane is a low-carbon alternative fuel that burns cleanly and produces significantly fewer greenhouse gas emissions than most other energy sources. In addition, propane is a non-poisonous, non-toxic fuel that won’t contaminate soil or groundwater, making it safe to use anywhere.
You might be surprised by all that propane has to offer. The all-propane home provides your family with the utmost comfort. You’ll also enjoy greater efficiency and energy savings compared with all-electric homes. The beauty of an all-propane home is that the more appliances and systems you have that run on propane, the bigger the benefits.
PROPANE VS. ELECTRIC
There’s a reason why many builders and architects across the country would never recommend an all-electric home: It’s simply too expensive.
Propane appliances are extremely energy efficient and can save you hundreds, possibly even thousands, of dollars in annual energy costs while making you more comfortable.
Newport Partners LLC, an independent third-party research firm, conducted careful modeling analysis of home energy consumption and CO2 emissions for two homes — one built with propane appliances and one built with electric appliances and systems. Here’s what they found.
ALL-PROPANE HOME VS. ALL-ELECTRIC HOME
|3,6000-Square-Foot Home [cold climate]||All-Propane Home||All-Electric Home||Annual Savings with Propane|
|Home Energy Rating|
System [HERS] Index
|64||83||The lower the score, the more efficient the home|
Think of the HERS Index like an appliance’s Energy Guide sticker, but for your whole house. It’s an easy way to compare the performance of different homes. The lower the score, the more energy efficient the home. All-propane homes have lower HERS ratings than all-electric alternatives.
For homeowners interested in lowering their carbon footprint, it’s clear that all-propane homes produce significantly fewer greenhouse gas emissions than all-electric homes. In the example above, the difference adds up to 10.6 metric tons of CO2 per year. For comparison, an average car driven in the United States emits 5.1 metric tons of CO2 each year.
You’re ready to build or remodel your dream home. And you’re excited about the performance and efficiency that propane amenities have to offer. What’s next?
At the budgeting and planning stage, your builder, remodeler, or architect may recommend propane systems and include them automatically in the plans. If not, be sure to state your preference for the superior propane system when electric just won’t cut it.
Using propane won’t throw a wrench into the schedule — in fact, it may speed it up. Since you’re not at the mercy of a public utility, your contractor can work with a local propane retailer to install the propane system where and when it’s needed.
Remodeling your home is a great time to consider replacing outdated technology like electric water heaters or boilers that use heating oil. You’ll enjoy the improved performance and space savings of a high-efficiency propane system, and it’s much easier to make the switch proactively than to wait until the unit fails.
You’ll be relieved to know that switching to propane won’t mean days without hot water. Your contractor can install your new system (as well as your propane storage, if needed) and have it inspected and tested before switching over from your old unit, minimizing any disruption. If you’re switching from heating oil, your old oil tank can be decontaminated and permanently taken out of service.
YOUR PROPANE PROJECT TIMELINE
Every project is different, of course, but here’s how propane typically fits into the construction of your home.
Propane is piped to your home in one of two ways. It can either be stored on your property in one or multiple propane tanks, or it can be delivered through a community system from a centralized storage system. If you’re connected to a community system, your home will be metered and billed for your propane usage, just as natural gas is.
If your home will have its own propane storage, your contractor and propane professional can help you navigate any decisions you need to make. They’ll provide guidance on appropriately sizing the tank — the average size is 500 gallons, but it may need to be larger or smaller depending on the propane systems installed in your home. There are a couple other options you may like to know about.
OWNING VS. RENTING
The most common option for your propane tank is to rent it from your propane supplier. The main benefit? You’re not responsible for maintaining the tank, and if it ever needs to be repaired or replaced, you’re not on the hook. Owning the tank, on the other hand, gives you the freedom to shop multiple propane suppliers. But buying, burying, and having a professional maintain your tank can add to the final cost of your home.
UNDERGROUND VS. ABOVEGROUND
Reviewing the tank location options with your builder and propane retailer is a great opportunity to make your aesthetic preferences known. In some cases, you may have the opportunity to bury the tank out of site, where it can be accessed by a small dome. Building and safety codes and ease of access will also govern the final choice.
At his Rockhouse project, architect John Grable designed a limestone wall to attractively accent and enclose a propane tank.
Whether or not your tank is buried, the area around your tank can be a fun opportunity for creative landscaping. San Antonio–based architect John Grable, for instance, likes to enclose a tank with a native stacked fieldstone wall or bench seat to add personality to a home’s outdoor space.
When you move, you need to start or update your account with the electric, gas, or cable company. Propane works the same way. Whether you’re building or remodeling, you’ll choose a propane provider with your contractor and schedule a time for your tank to be placed. Your service technician will typically provide a Propane 101 lesson: how your tank works (and how to shut it off), what propane smells like in case of a leak, and other safety reminders.
While a small amount of propane will be added to the tank for testing when the tank is first installed, your first propane delivery will actually take place later. A few reminders:
HOW MANY GALLONS WILL I USE?
One of homeowners’ most frequent questions about propane is how much they’ll use. If you have 100 gallons left in the tank, how long will it last? The answer varies depending on which systems are installed in your home, as well as your climate region and the time of year. Here are some general annual guidelines:
TYPICAL PROPANE CONSUMPTION (GALLONS/YEAR)
|Climate Region||High-Efficiency Space Heating||High-Efficiency Water Heating||Cooking||Clothes Dyer||High-Efficiency Direct-Vent Fireplace||Total|
Sure, it’s your dream home, but that doesn’t mean you need to pay premium prices for every appliance.
In fact, you may be able to qualify for rebates and tax incentives to offset the purchase costs of new propane furnaces, water heaters, and other appliances. Since the efficiency of propane appliances already makes them a smart economic choice for your family, the savings begin to stack up quickly. Here’s where to look:
SAFE INSTALLATION REBATES
Some local propane companies offer rebates for the safe installation of propane appliances. Contact your local propane retailer for more details on how to qualify for these rebates. Check out the programs in your state at propane.com/residential/programs-and-incentives/.
GOVERNMENT AND TAX INCENTIVES
Some states and localities provide tax credits, rebates, grants, and other incentives for propane projects. And in recent years, the federal government has offered tax credits, including up to $500 for installing qualified energy-efficient upgrades.
The tax rules are always being rewritten, so check out this site haigood-campbell.com for the most up-to-date details.