Gas Fireplaces and Cooktops Can Drive Desire for Propane

While propane is becoming increasingly well known as the energy source for efficient systems and its environmentally friendly footprint, it's interesting to see what actually drives some homeowners to go for propane applications over, say, those that run on electricity.

For customers of Garrette Custom Homes, a build-on-your-lot company based in Vancouver, Wash., the decision to go with propane often comes down to the desire for one particular item: a gas fireplace.

"A gas fireplace has become an almost universal choice for most of our customers," says Matt Lewis, manager of Garrette Custom Homes, which offers 50 house plans to choose from. "Then it's really up to the customer to decide what other appliances they might want to run off propane. A gas stove is the next most popular item. Gas for cooking is just wildly popular." That sentiment translates to the outside, where Garrette often offers a gas stub for a barbecue grill.

A custom home offering by Garrette Custom Homes. Photo courtesy of Garrette Custom Homes.

Interior showing propane fireplace in the family room. Photo courtesy of Garrette Custom Homes.
Photos courtesy of Garrette Custom Homes

When it comes to whether a tank is buried or left aboveground, that's a choice the customer makes. "It's about half and half," says Lewis. "We supply the appliances and plumb those that they want to use propane with but the propane supply and where they put the tank is something that gets shifted to the customer."

As Lewis discusses the use of propane by so many owners of a Garrette home, many of whom are former city dwellers who are new to the world of living in such rural places as Beaver Creek, Ore., and Washougal, Wash., it dawns on him that there are a number of propane-related appliances and systems that his company could be offering to new customers. These homes are 3,200 square feet on average, a size that would certainly benefit from energy-efficient systems above and beyond just a fireplace and gas stove.

"It probably wouldn't be a bad idea for us to meet with our local propane distributor and learn more about what we could offer," he says.

No doubt, his distributor would talk about an approach to new construction where a home's energy profile is efficient at all points of use, with propane being utilized for space heating, water heating, and clothes drying (in addition to cooking and fireplaces).

  1. Space Heating: Propane home-heating systems can be configured as central or zone-based, forced air or radiant. With a forced-air system a propane furnace cycles on and off, using a fan or blower to force warm air through ducts. A propane water heater or boiler can also heat a home with radiant heat from a floor tubing system or perimeter radiators.
  2. Water Heating: A propane high-efficiency tankless water heater can cost up to 60 percent less to operate than standard electric storage models. It also prevents the emission of nearly 70,000 pounds of greenhouse gases (GHGs) over its 20-year lifetime when compared with the GHGs produced by a standard storage electric heater.
  3. Clothes Drying: Because it attains higher temperatures, a propane dryer dries clothes faster than an electric model and can even help relax wrinkles and static cling. A bonus is propane's green profile.

Propane furnaces, for example, are responsible for nearly 64 percent fewer greenhouse gas emissions than electric baseboards.

To learn how to incorporate propane products into your next project, be sure to check out our free online CEU courses, available at the Propane Training Academy. The categories mentioned in this article are discussed in the following training courses:

A Comparative Analysis of Residential Heating Systems

Condensing Tankless Water Heaters: Using Propane for the Most Efficient Water Heaters on the Market

Expanding Outdoor Living: Using Propane for Efficient and Sustainable Outdoor Living

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

Hydronic Heating in Rural Residential Applications

Innovations with Propane Gas for Outdoor Residential Use

Gas Fireplaces, Cooktops Drive Desire for Propane
Off-Grid Products That Deliver High Performance
Introduction to Residential Propane Tanks


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