Florida Homebuilder Uses Propane at Home, Quickly Realizes Savings

WASHINGTON (November 4, 2010) — Southwest Florida homebuilder Bob Knight has traditionally used electricity as the primary energy source for his residential construction projects — but the house he built for himself runs on propane.

Knight had already planned to install an outdoor grill and a backup generator, and connecting the two to a primary propane line was a natural solution.

After deciding to install a propane-fueled grill and backup generator, I kept finding other uses for the propane," said Knight, vice president of Cape Coral, Fla.–based PaulHomes."Early on, I realized I was already running a line to the summer kitchen area. From there, I decided to install a propane-fueled pool heater and conversational fire features, followed by a dryer and two tankless water heaters."

Many builders and homeowners choose to build with propane because they are located off the natural gas main and want to save money on utilities. The same held true for Knight. "With predictions suggesting significant cost increases for electricity over the next 10 years, the idea of incorporating more propane applications made sense."

"The tankless water heaters are unbelievably cost effective and easy to use. Typically, the hot water tank represents about 30 percent of the electric bill over 12 months. Based on my current consumption, for two people, my electric savings are $1,050 per year," said Knight who has one small tankless water heater for the master bedroom and a second larger unit for the remainder of the home. "Many homeowners are concerned about saving money, and it's important for us as builders to speak the way they think and offer alternative solutions. The propane tankless water heaters can run at 120 or 110 degrees and only turn on when hot water is needed; they automatically turn off after that. It's had such an impact on saving dollars and reducing utilities.

For many homeowners in Florida, the choice to use propane depends on the clients' lifestyle. It is not unusual for residents who are originally from northern states to prefer propane since they are already familiar with the benefits of gas. According to Knight, when working with clients on the design and construction of a home, it is not uncommon to recommend a heat pump for the pool. But, if the homeowner begins talking about a backup generator and an outdoor kitchen, the conversation quickly turns to propane.

"By describing the propane-fueled appliances in my home, I've been able to share my experiences and make the homeowner feel comfortable about their decision to use propane," added Knight.

Knight's new home, completed in May 2010, uses propane stored in a 500-gallon underground tank installed by Gerald Stothers of the South Florida Gas Co. As energy rates rise in Florida and elsewhere, the use of propane-fueled appliances can help builders and homeowners save money, use less energy, and reduce carbon emissions.

To support construction professionals like Knight, the Propane Education & Research Council has developed a series of free online training courses describing the installation, safety measures, applications, and benefits associated with propane. The courses are available at buildwithpropane.com and are approved by the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) and the American Institute of Architects(AIA).

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