Recent Heating Study Spells Out Propane's Advantages, Cost Savings, and Environmental Benefits

LAS VEGAS (January 19, 2010, Booth N2819)—A comparative home heating analysis by Newport Partners LLC says propane-heating systems are more cost-effective than most other home heating options.

There are several options for heating a home, but not every builder knows just how effective and beneficial propane can be as a home heating source. The study, which evaluated 14 different heating systems in both new and existing homes in 16 U.S. locations, aims to bring every builder up to speed on propane.

"The research proves the value propane-fueled heating systems provide in moderate, warm, and cold climates. It took into consideration the initial and operating costs, the carbon emissions, and the return on investment," said Tracy Burleson, director of residential programs for the Propane Education & Research Council (PERC). "Propane offers homeowners an effective, efficient energy alternative that is easy to adopt and quickly pays for itself."

Results of the study are divided into three regions based on climate similarities among the cities evaluated: the Midwest, the Southeast, and the Northeast.

The Midwest region's hot, steamy summers and bitterly cold winters bring about the most severe weather temperature swings of any region. Regardless, professionals and homeowners expect heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems (HVAC) systems to deliver efficient, reliable performance regardless of the conditions outside.

"Homeowners in the Midwest could receive a payback in less than a year with the purchase of a 95 percent annual fuel utilization efficiency (AFUE) propane furnace," said Burleson. "These same homeowners could offset greenhouse gas emissions from one passenger car's entire life by choosing to use a propane furnace rather than a standard air-source heat pump."

The Southeast region enjoys temperate weather and outdoor living opportunities year-round. Residents typically rely on HVAC systems to reduce moisture in the air. The Southeast is prone to fast-moving storms that can knock out power, a problem for households that rely on electricity for water and space heating, cooling, and refrigeration.

"In areas commonly threatened by storms and subsequent power outages, an underground propane tank can easily fuel a backup generator and provide power to essential home services," said Burleson.

Compared with a high-efficiency electric air-source heat pump, a dual-fuel system using propane offers more flexibility as energy prices fluctuate, and avoids the need for an expensive to operate electric backup. Although many Gulf Coast states' electricity rates are slightly below the national average, rates in the most populous states in the region—Texas and Florida—were 13 percent higher at the time of the study.

Fuel oil is the primary home heating energy source in the Northeast. Homeowners and builders in this region, where natural gas is not widely available, are constantly searching for more reliable, economical energy-saving alternatives.

"The study shows that homeowners in the Northeast could save considerably on installation and operating costs by updating to a 95 percent AFUE propane furnace from a standard-efficiency fuel-oil furnace," said Burleson. "With a high-efficiency propane furnace, homeowners could see a return on their investment in less than a year."

As builders and homeowners come to expect increased energy efficiency from heating systems, propane is a domestic solution. In terms of installation and operating costs, greenhouse gas emissions, and return on investment, propane is a proven energy leader.

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