Partnership for Efficient Homes

In Maine, propane plays a starring role in affordable homes built by high school students.

There are plenty of attractive features at the latest ranch-style home to go up at Cony Village, an affordable, green community in Augusta, Maine. The project's concept was developed by two non-profit organizations, the Kennebec Valley Community Action Program (KVCAP) and Bread of Life Ministries. The house was designed and primarily built by students from the Capital Area Technical Center (CATC), a career and technical education school in Augusta. And finally, its main energy source is propane, which fuels a high-efficiency condensing boiler that provides both radiant heat and hot water, using an average of just 31 gallons of propane per month.

Photographer: Joe Phelan. Reprinted with permission from the Kennebec Journal, Photographer: Joe Phelan. Reprinted with permission from the Kennebec Journal.

James Duchart, a student at the Capital Area Technical Center (CATC) in Augusta, Maine, nails shingles onto the roof of the latest energy-efficient house being built by CATC instructors and students at Cony Village.

The homes, while not built to attain stringent LEED certification, must meet green standards required by the Maine State Housing Authority. The students' volunteer labor helps keep the cost of the homes in the $140,000 range. CATC students have built four of the eight homes that have been put up at Cony Village in the last four years. The development, which also features shared green spaces and walking trails, can accommodate 41 homes.

According to Bruce Baker, CATC's director and building construction instructor, propane condensing boilers have been gaining popularity in Maine in recent years, especially as the price of oil fluctuates. And of course, in addition to lowering heating bills, a switch from oil to propane results in a significant reduction of carbon emissions associated with the system.

"KVCAP, our funding source, looks at putting in the most economical system," says Baker. "Dollar for dollar it costs less to put in a propane system."

To learn how to evaluate the impact of switching from oil to propane, as well as other retrofit scenarios, be sure to check out our free online CEU courses, available at the Propane Training Academy The topics mentioned in this article are discussed in the following training courses:

Heating Oil Conversion: Exploring Propane as a Viable Alternative Energy Source

Retrofitting Homes from Heating Oil to Propane: Efficiency, Economic and Environmental Benefits

Go Green with Propane: An Overview of Propane Gas Systems for Green Residential Construction

A Comparative Analysis of Residential Heating Systems

Hydronic Heating in Rural Residential Applications

Multiple Benefits of Propane Homes
Tips for Tank Safety During Bad Weather
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