An alternative energy source for homeowners to consider
Do you ever wonder about the different sources of fuel available for all sorts of different applications and appliances you use every day? It can be confusing — electricity, solar, geothermal, propane, and natural gas are all sources of energy. Recently, I attended a presentation on the benefits of propane. The information I learned was interesting and definitely informative — so many things, from vehicles to heating to mowers, may now utilize this energy source.
We all know that there are solar and geothermal energy solutions out there to help provide heat and electricity to homes and businesses, yet the price point is not yet affordable enough to appeal to the masses. So, to learn more about the benefits of propane, I reached out to Paul Perkins, the Branch Manager of Blossman Propane Gas and Appliance here in their recently opened Warrenton location. Blossman Gas has been serving propane users for over 65 years and is a family-owned and operated company. Here is some of the information he shared regarding the use of propane as an alternative energy source.
What is propane?
Perkins explained, “Propane is sometimes referred to as liquefied petroleum gas, LP gas, or LPG, and is normally compressed and stored as a liquid. It is nontoxic, colorless, and virtually odorless.”
What makes this a “green” energy product?
“Propane is a nontoxic, environmentally responsible fuel that doesn’t contaminate aquifers or soil,” said Perkins. “This energy product is much cleaner than home heating oil, kerosene, or electricity and is an approved clean alternative fuel listed in the 1990 Clean Air Act. Coal-burning electric power plants emit twice as much carbon dioxide into the atmosphere as propane, at a comparatively low 38 percent efficiency rate. Propane is a viable alternative to electricity and significantly reduces emission of greenhouse gases.”
According to Blossman Gas there are approximately 48 million households and businesses that use propane for heating, water heaters, indoor and outdoor cooking, dryers, generators, and other applications.
Additionally, many outdoor living areas now include amenities that assist in extending the season to enjoy cooler weather. According to Perkins “propane can be be used for gas fire pits, patio heaters, gas tiki torches, and outdoor gas fireplaces.” Another popular item is the brick pizza oven, which may be installed inside or outside. “Hybrid fuel configurations, where the convenience of gas is married to a wood fire in the firebox, are also being installed in homes, as well as winery tasting rooms and restaurants,” explained Steve McCoy, Regional Vice President with Blossman.
Many homeowners, as well as industries, are now turning to propane for a variety of uses:
- Water heaters
- Other appliances
- Lawn mowers (commercial fleets)
- Vehicles (commercial fleets)
Propane versus electric.
Many homeowners select propane over electric. Some do so because it may be delivered to remote areas and to neighborhoods where natural gas connections are not an option.
The use is not limited to just homeowners; commercial uses are also growing. “Whether you are running a commercial kitchen, a medical clinic, or planning to build a new facility or renovate an existing one, a cost-effective and safe gas plan can be designed,” detailed Perkins.
Perkins also noted that propane gas on average saves you money on your energy bills and “costs less per BTU [British Thermal Unit – a universal measurement to compare units of heat] when compared to electricity.” Homeowners can use propane zone heaters and gas fireplaces to only heat select rooms, instead of the entire home. A fireplace with vent-free propane fueled logs allows heated air to remain in the room, making it warmer than those heated with other heat sources. With a vent free log system, the damper may remain closed to prevent heat from escaping. Propane appliances available for consumers to utilize include dryers, cooktops, and more. Perkins shared, “These appliances cut expenses by working faster and more efficiently, saving you time and money.”
Considerations if you are converting from natural gas or electric to propane.
Technicians can convert your home from all electrical appliances to a propane appliances easily. Remember to ensure that the technician performing your conversion is properly trained and certified. The Propane Education & Research Council (PERC) and the National Propane Gas Association (NPGA) offer certifications, as does Blossman Gas, via their Certified Employee Training Program (CETP). Many other appliances can be purchased with propane use in mind, or converted in some cases. Interestingly enough, vehicles and small engine machinery (such as lawn mowers) may also utilize this type of fuel.
There are several propane tank options available for the homeowner; the size and shape of a tank is selected based upon a home’s unique set of needs. There are above-ground and a below-ground options, and each option allows the tank to blend in with the surrounding environment. The tanks “can last up to 40 years, are environmentally friendly, and require little maintenance,” according to Blossman Gas.
“Propane is a naturally safe energy source and provides many benefits that ensure worry-free comfort. It has an enviable history of safety records due to the strict regulations and stringent codes developed by the propane industry in association with the National Fire Protection Association,” said Perkins. Although propane itself is odorless, there is an odor added so it may easily be detected if there is a leak. The smell mimics the odor of rotten eggs and is a telltale sign there is a leak.
Also, know and understand from where your fuel provider is obtaining their product. Is it from the U.S. or abroad? Perkins shared, “One hundred percent of our propane is produced in North America, making it a stable, domestic energy source.” Using U.S. supplied fuel is another way you can assist the environment as well as our economy.
To learn more about propane and if it is the right fuel choice for you, reach out to any local propane gas company directly. For more information call Blossman Gas at 1-888-BLOSSMAN, visit their website (blossmangas.com), or follow them on social media.
Safety tips from Blossman Gas
- If you think there is a leak, evacuate everyone from the home or business and call your local propane provider or the fire department from a neighbor’s phone.
- Know what propane smells like — some retailers print scratch and sniff pamphlets to help you know what the odor of the additive smells like for identification purposes.
- Know where your propane lines are located: underground or above-ground — especially when performing yard work.
- Change/clean furnace filters regularly per manufacturer’s guidelines.
- Do not store cleaning fluids, oil, gasoline, or other flammable liquids near a gas burning appliance.
Propane, specifically autogas, is used as an alternative fuel for fleets in the U.S., rather than private vehicles. Organizations such as N.C. NET Trans (a regional transit system in Tennessee) utilize this type of fuel for their vehicles. Blossman Gas, private fueling stations, and Alliance AutoGas offer assistance with refueling needs with propane marketing partners across the U.S. and Canada to enable corporations to utilize propane as an alternative fuel source.
“We continue to work toward shared infrastructure in the larger cities in our footprint to provide options for more autogas users,” according to Blossman Gas. For more information on autogas as an alternative fleet fuel, visit allianceautogas.com.
Additionally, many commercial landscape companies are utilizing propane to fuel their mowers to help with cost savings as well as emissions.