Case Study: Increasing Propane Usage
How one family converted a three-car garage into a propane-enabled suite.
Leamy Construction in Glenmoore, Pa., is just finishing up a special project for a family with three boysone pre-teen, one teenager, and one 20-year-old who became paralyzed about three years ago and now uses a wheelchair. His parents wanted him to have his own bedroom space, complete with a state-of-the-art bathroom and top-notch heating and cooling.
The family enlisted Leamy Construction, a 25-year-old design/build firm, to construct a new garage and to convert their old three-car garage into a 1,000-square-foot living space for their oldest son. A propane tankless water heater and a propane high-efficiency HVAC system play starring roles.
"More and more people here are asking for high-efficiency appliances," says company owner Richard Leamy. "We don't have natural gas in our area so that leaves electric, oil, or propane. Any kind of new technology stopped with oil 25 years ago, electric really isn't a choice when it comes to tankless water heaters, so that leaves propane." Coincidentally, the family already had a 1,000-gallon underground propane tank on the property. Although propane can be somewhat variable when it comes to price, says Leamy, "that's what powers most of the high-efficiency appliances that are readily available."
Before the remodel the home—large and long—had a standard tank-type water heater located at the opposite end of the remodeled space. "If we had stayed with that water heater, it would have literally taken five minutes for hot water to reach that end of the house," says Leamy. "This family wanted their oldest son to have a steady, strong flow of hot water for his roll-in shower."
The new propane tankless water heater supplies not only the addition's bathroom, but also two additional bathrooms—those used by the younger sons. "All three boys can use all three bathrooms and nobody's said anything about a lack of hot water," says Leamy.
Leamy finds propane appliances easy to install and easy for a family to operate. "There's a digital display with most of these high-efficiency appliances, but most people aren't skittish about computers anymore so it doesn't bother them," he reports. "But older customers don't like those digital displays at all. They want to save money but don't want to think about how to do it."
For more information and free online training courses on how to incorporate propane into custom building projects, go to www.buildwithpropane.com/training. The topics mentioned in this article are explored in the following courses: