.Ultimate Guide to Commercial Propane Applications
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Remodels are an ideal time to discuss water heating

If your homeowner is using an aging electric water heater, here are six reasons to consider switching to propane.

By Jeffrey Lee

Staff Writer

Remodelers are in a prime position to help homeowners make informed decisions about water heating replacement.

In your role as a trusted home renovation consultant, you can add value for your client by recommending systems that will improve comfort and provide long-term cost savings. And if your customer has an aging, inefficient electric water heater, switching to propane water heating is often a smart energy choice that meets those goals.

When you're meeting with homeowners to discuss their remodeling goals, take a few minutes to discuss their water heating options. We've developed two new worksheets to help you start the conversation.

These side-by-side economic comparison worksheets make it a cinch to compare the upfront installation costs and long-term energy savings of electric and propane water heaters. One worksheet compares an electric storage tank water heater with a propane storage tank water heater. Another worksheet  compares the electric storage tank water heater with a propane tankless water heater.

In either case, the worksheets can help you and your homeowners identify the benefits that a propane water heater can provide. Here are a few of the factors to keep in mind.

Energy savings

Residential water heating is typically the second largest energy use in the home and can account for nearly a quarter of overall household energy consumption. And as water heaters age, they become less efficient, requiring even more energy. If a homeowner's water heater is near the end of its life, it's a smart decision to replace it now, rather than have to replace it immediately when it fails.

Propane heats water faster and more efficiently than electricity. Propane tankless water heaters provide further energy savings because, unlike storage tank water heaters, they don't use additional energy to keep stored water heated. Gas tankless water heaters can reduce energy costs by more than 50 percent simply by heating water on-demand. In addition to the worksheets, you can use our Heating Energy Cost and Carbon Calculator to help estimate how much it will cost each year to run a propane water heating system.

Performance and comfort

Homeowners certainly want to save money, but they generally also want to make sure their energy decision doesn't affect their personal comfort. Propane tankless water heaters offer several performance advantages over electric tanks.

First and foremost, tankless water heaters offer an endless supply of hot water. If your customer is remodeling to accommodate a larger family, this feature can be vital to a homeowner's quality of life. Tankless water heaters can produce about 222 gallons/hour on average, compared with a first-hour delivery rating of just 62 gallons for an electric storage tank water heater.

Propane tankless water heaters ensure your homeowners never run out of hot water at an inopportune time.

Life span

Because tankless water heaters heat water on demand, the water is always fresh and clean. In traditional tanks, scale and rust can build up, as stored water may have accumulated deposits or bacteria. The life span of a tankless water heater can be 20 years, making it more cost-effective than storage tank water heaters with shorter life spans. As the worksheets show, this long life span improves the annual operating cost of tankless water heaters when amortized over the life of the system.

Space savings

Propane storage tank water heaters are often more compact than electric alternatives, and tankless water heaters can free up even more valuable floor space, often as much as 12 to 16 square feet. They can be wall-mounted inside or outside, with a variety of venting options.

Reduced emissions

Because propane is a clean fuel with low CO2 emissions, propane water heaters are generally more environmentally friendly than water heaters powered by coal-produced electricity. Propane tankless water heaters have 50 to 60 percent lower CO2 emissions compared with electric storage tank systems, and propane storage tank water heaters offer CO2 emissions reductions of 1,900 pounds per year.

Product options

Propane water heaters are available with a variety of cutting-edge technologies, including condensing units, which extract additional thermal energy from the combustion gases to pre-heat incoming water, increasing overall system efficiency. Propane also fuels a number of other innovative water heating technologies, such as hybrid/tankless solar hot-water systems and combination units that combine space heating and water heating. Visit our recently updated propane product directory, where you can browse hundreds of tankless and storage tank water heaters from a variety of manufacturers.

The product directory is also a great place to browse other appliances and systems with retrofit potential, such as space heating, cooktops and ovens, fireplaces, outdoor grills, and backup generators.

If your customers are making the switch to propane, it's often a smart move to make further efficiency and performance gains with other propane amenities.

To learn more about upgrading to propane water heating, check out the Propane Training Academy. "Water Heaters: Retrofitting from Standard Electric to Gas Tankless" provides further detail on how you can help your homeowners save energy and improve the value of their homes.

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Ultimate Guide to Commercial Propane Applications
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