A white paper by the propane industry presents to homebuilders reasons why propane and natural gas is more desirable as the primary energy source for hot water and hydronics heating systems.
The industry developed the white paper in response to a survey of homebuilders that found that while consumers preferred gas as the primary energy source for hot water, 50 percent of builders surveyed continued to install water heaters powered by electricity.
The white paper is available on www.usepropane.com/buildwithpropane.
The Department of Energy estimates that approximately 20 percent of a home’s energy costs are spent heating hot water. The paper details how a standard 50-gallon electric tank water heater replaced with a propane-fueled water heater could reduce annual energy costs by more than 50 percent, saving an average of $254/year. Savings increase with the installation of tankless water heaters, with propane-fueled tankless water heaters reducing annual energy costs by more than 60 percent.
High-efficiency water heaters and boilers are now joined by high-efficiency hydronics systems. Radiant floor heating systems operate more efficiently than forced air systems because of their ability to operate at a lower air temperature than forced air heat. This can reduce annual energy costs even further, with an average savings of 15 to 50 percent depending on the system design.
The survey also holds good news for the radiant heating industry, which found that radiant heating systems are increasingly popular with homebuilders. A survey conducted last year by the by the National Association of Homebuilders (NAHB) Research Center on behalf of the Propane Education Research Council found that 23 percent of builders surveyed were planning to “increase” or “greatly increase” their use of radiant floor systems this year. Intent to use radiant heating systems was strongest in the Northeast, where 40 percent of respondents said they were likely to install more radiant floor systems, followed by the Midwest (31 percent) and the Western U.S. (23 percent).
One of the primary issues affecting purchasing decisions may be the price of electric appliances compared to propane appliances. The white paper examines total lifecycle costs of high-efficiency propane heating systems to help homebuilders understand how quickly upfront costs are recovered through reduced annual energy bills.