Case Study: Whole-Home Conversions to Propane

A Pennsylvania remodeler and builder takes oil-to-propane retrofits to the next level.

Builder and remodeler Jim Renehan has a pretty sweet deal going in Willistown Acres, a Malvern, Pa., 1950s subdivision of detached, single-family homes. At a time when many remodelers are out begging for work, he has his hands full doing whole-house renovations, tear-downs-to-new-home conversions, and large additions. He lives in the neighborhood, about 20 miles from Philadelphia, so he counts his own remodeled home among his success stories.

The houses he's worked on all have one thing in common: Renehan converted every one of them from oil to propane.

"We've definitely got a little niche going here," says Renehan, president of the Renehan Building Group in Malvern. "We went with propane because it's a quality energy source, much more efficient than oil."

All photos courtesy Renehan Building Group.

Because each of the homes he's done now runs on propane, Renehan can offer high-efficiency appliances and systems. "We pretty much convert the whole house to propane," he says. "Typically we put in tankless water heaters, propane fireplaces, radiant heat, and propane stoves."

Persuading customers to make the switch from oil to propane has been downright easy. "To be honest, they don't question the conversion at all," says Renehan. "Sometimes they have questions about whether they have to buy the tank, usually a 500- or 1,000-gallon model," but that all gets handled by propane retailers who handle the tank installation and the customer contracts. "Our goal is to produce a quality product on time and on budget. Propane has definitely been a help with that."

The takeaway from Renehan's success is this: If you can confidently explain the benefits of propane to a prospective customer, get rid of old oil tanks successfully, and install new propane tanks in a professional manner, homeowners are likely to embrace the change.

To learn more about retrofitting oil heating systems to propane, enroll in our free AIA- and NAHB-approved course. You will learn how to complete a heating analysis of available energy choices, and to understand why propane is a superior alternative to heating oil.

Want to talk to someone about making the switch? Search our directory to find a propane retailer near you.

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