Survey Finds Homebuilders Are Choosing Propane to Fuel Their Fireplaces

Washington, D.C. (November 7, 2005) — The Propane Education & Research Council (PERC) has released the findings of a national survey of homebuilders which found that if propane was the primary fuel source for their home, they would use it to fuel their fireplaces. The national survey, which polled more than 300 homebuilders across the country, examined the growing trend in gas fireplaces. Highlights from the survey include:

  • Fireplaces are the most popular propane appliances in U.S. households. According to builders surveyed, 13.2 percent of all propane appliances installed recently have been fireplaces, followed by water heaters (9.9 percent) and cooking appliances (7.7 percent).
  • Surprisingly, gas fireplaces have the highest penetration rate in the South, with 20.7 percent of homes having a gas fireplace, followed by the Northeast (14.3 percent) and the Midwest (9.1 percent).
  • However, when builders were asked if propane fireplace installations would increase in the coming year, 37 percent of Northeast builders said they would – more than any other region of the country. When asked the same question, 26 percent of builders in the Midwest said installations would increase, followed by 16 percent in the West and 6 percent in the South.
  • The popularity of gas fireplaces could be part of an overall trend to maximize the benefits of gas throughout the home. When given the choice, 67 percent of builders surveyed said they would use propane not only for fireplaces, but also to fuel water heaters and outdoor appliances.

“For consumers that are looking to install or convert and existing fireplace to propane, they should consider what homebuilders would do,” said Randy Chitty, chairman of the Propane Education & Research Council’s Homeowner Subcommittee. “According to our survey, homebuilders would be the first on their block to take advantage of the comfort and value propane fireplaces provide.”

Propane fireplaces ensure that those who own one won’t have to trudge outside in the cold to grab an armful of wood. But there are many other reasons why gas fireplaces are gaining in popularity:

  • Efficient Heat – Many gas fireplaces are built specifically to provide heat. In fact, “heater-rated” models provide efficient heat similar to a central furnace. Some models can even help circulate heat throughout a particular area of a home.
  • Easy On/Off – Propane fireplaces offer the convenience of immediate heat and safe, instantaneous shutoff switches. Some units even have remote controls.
  • Clean Operation – Installing a gas fireplace means eliminating ash and other residue commonly found with wood-burning models. In addition, maintenance is generally minimal with gas fireplaces. The Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association (HPBA) recommends, however, that a gas fireplace be professionally serviced about once a year to ensure top performance and aesthetic charm.
  • Cozy Atmosphere – Cuddling up by the fire is a great way to spend a winter night. Many gas fireplaces now resemble wood-burning units, adding an old-fashioned atmosphere to any living room. Plus, most of today’s models operate when the power goes out, which is a great comfort during winter storms.
  • Flexible Installation – Because propane is very portable, homeowners have lots of flexibility when it comes to gas fireplace location. Gas fireplaces can be installed in any area of a home. Thanks to modern technology, vent-free fireplaces have even greater flexibility because these units can be placed directly against a wall.
  • Affordability – Gas fireplaces come in a variety of models to fit any budget. In general, prices range from about $300 to about $6,000. Final costs will depend on factors such as size, vent system choice, installation fees and mantle preference.

Nearly 60 percent of all new homes built today have at least one fireplace, according to the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), with gas models accounting for two-thirds of the 2.8 million fireplaces shipped in 2004, according to HPBA.

 About the Survey
The Web-based survey was conducted in August 2005 by the NAHB Research Center, a subsidiary of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), on behalf of the Propane Education & Research Council. A nationally representative sample of 302 builders participated in the survey.

For additional information about propane fireplaces, please visit, and

For more information regarding the survey, please visit