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Propane gas is greenest, cleanest way to heat homes.

As fuel costs soar, builders and homebuyers are looking for value and efficiency when considering options for home heating. Propane gas fits the bill. It just happens to be the greener and cleaner alternative, too.

More people are moving to areas where the choice of fuel comes down to propane gas or heating oil. To design cost-effective homes that deliver added value and comfort, more builders are looking to propane for higher efficiency gains. A low carbon dioxi--producing heat source, propane offers long-term savings, especially when used in combination with hydronic heating systems such as radiant floor heat.

Hydronic radiant floor heat provides inverted heat stratification, meaning the floor is warmer than the ceiling, providing the most comfort with a lowered thermostat setting--which saves energy. The floor is heated with warm boiler water circulated through small, flexible pipes located under the surface of the floor or in the concrete floor slab. The result is consistent heat throughout the house.

Propane requires less maintenance than other fuels, and it bums hotter. According to Roberta French, Mechanical Designer of North Country Consultants in Upstate New York, "Propane-fired, condensing-type boilers are controlled to modulate the boiler water temperature to the lower temperatures utilized in radiant floors, usually around 80 degrees--whereas oil-fired boilers cannot be fired below 140 degrees without damaging the boilers."

The lower operating temperature is saving energy. She adds, "When properly applied in low-temperature hydronic systems, boilers can attain efficiency of over 95 percent. The lower the temperature of the water returning from the distribution system, the greater rate of condensation formation and the higher the boiler's efficiency."

"Radiant floor heat is a gentle, even heat that eliminates drafts and cold spots," Frencn says. Hydronics requires no ventilation so circulation of dust, odors, spores, and germs is also drastically reduced. By setting individual zone controls, homeowners have more control over spaces: thermostats can automatically warm up daytime living areas and cool them down at night.

Hydronic heating systems can be added to existing structures as well. Pipes can either be stapled under an existing floor, between the floor joists, or between a sub-floor and a finish floor, using plywood sleepers to separate the finish floor and the sub-floor.

In addition to propane's convenience and efficiency, builders and homeowners appreciate the aesthetic advantages. For home buyers concerned about appearance, a durable underground propane tank is a safe, discreet option. Once a tank is buried, only a small dome is visible--allowing for easy servicing and refilling.

Generally, 500-gallon tanks easily accommodate an average four-bedroom home. One hundred gallon tanks can be installed to provide energy for specific applications such as outdoor rooms, while 1,000-plus gallon tanks can fuel large homes with applications such as swimming pools and hot tubs. Approved as an alternative fuel by the Clean Air Act of 1990 and the National Energy Policy Act of 2005, propane is as clean as it is economical.

At a time when home values nationwide are flat and energy prices are rising, energy-efficient homes command premium prices. By using propane as the fuel source for major appliances, homeowners are positioned to command higher resale value down the road.
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Comment:Propane gas is greenest, cleanest way to heat homes.
Publication:Real Estate Weekly
Date:Apr 16, 2008
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