Propane Gas Offers Flexibility and Control Builders Seek


January 15, 1999

Dallas, January 15, 1999 - Flexibility and control are the buzz words on everyone's lips at the 1999 International Builders' Show (photos available) as the building industry continues to seek out ways to cater to the changing needs of buyers. Not surprisingly, energy choice is a critical consideration for builders who see flexibility and control as core issues with today's homebuyers. Evidence of this is the integral role energy is playing in the LifeStages Home, a concept show home at the International Builders' Show designed so it can be easily adapted to a homeowner's continuing lifestyle changes.

BUILDER magazine, in partnership with Fleetwood Homes, MASCO Corporation and Devereaux & Associates, is building the LifeStages Home, an idea house that will demonstrate the potential of manufactured housing and how it can be targeted to the growing active adult home-buying market. The National Propane Gas Association (NPGA) is a primary energy sponsor of the cutting-edge 2,600-square-foot home. This sponsorship is part of the Propane Education & Research Council's initiative to promote the benefits of propane gas.

The LifeStages Home demonstrates the flexibility of propane and the control it gives the homeowner through its use in the heating and hot water systems, multiple fireplaces, ovens/ranges, clothes dryers and grills.

'Customization is a hot topic with builders because it relates directly to consumer's ability to have some control over their living environment,' says Roy Willis, Propane Council president. 'What many builders don't realize is that energy choice can have a tremendous impact on the ability to design the kind of flexible living environment today's homeowners demand.'

According to Willis, Americans prefer gas as a residential fuel to minimize costs while maximizing comfort and satisfaction in home ownership. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, some 69 percent of the 1,116,000 single-family homes built in the U.S. in 1997 were heated by gas. In every region of the country, new gas-heated homes are outnumbering those relying on electricity. Beyond home heating, propane is also prominent in many other residential applications for its repeated benefits, including flexibility, convenience and efficiency.

For example, propane gives homeowners the luxury and freedom to install gas fireplaces in nearly any area of the home, while masonry wood-burning units have to be placed along an outer wall. In addition, propane gas fireplaces heat more efficiently than wood-burning hearth products and can heat a larger area. This means less reliance on primary home-heating systems and significant cost savings. In contrast, wood-burning fireplaces can lose as much as 90 percent of the heat they generate through the chimney.

Water heaters, the second largest energy user in the home, provide another example of the convenience and control available through gas use. A propane gas water heater can heat more than twice as much water in an hour than a comparable electric model. In addition, without increasing the size of the water heater, a household's hot water capacity can be doubled by simply switching from electric to gas.

'Virtually anything in a home that could be run on electricity could be run on gas,' said Ross Farland, design manager of Fleetwood Homes, a partner on the LifeStages project, 'Gas makes sense for homeowners in the long-run for both its cost-saving payback and quality-of-life advantages.'

Propane gas can be stored conveniently and safely in underground and aboveground tanks on the homeowner's property. Because of propane's portability and self-containment, it is always accessible, providing the benefits of gas in areas beyond the reach of natural gas supply lines.

The Propane Education & Research Council works on behalf of the propane industry to improve safety, workforce training, efficiency and consumer education. The Council was authorized by the Propane Education and Research Act of 1996 (PERA) and created through an industry referendum in 1997. Funds are collected through an assessment process by which the industry pays a percentage of money on every gallon of odorized propane. The current assessment rate is 1/10 of a cent on each gallon sold. The resulting funds are used for programs designed to accomplish the Council's mission.

NPGA is the national trade association for the U.S. propane gas industry. With a membership of more than 3,700 in all 50 states, 37 affiliated state or regional associations, and members in 30 foreign countries, NPGA represents every segment of the propane industry. Over 90 percent of the United States' propane supply is produced domestically, and 60 million Americans choose propane, 'The Energy of the New Millennium,' as their energy source.

For further information on propane gas for residential home use, contact your local propane dealer or call the National Propane Gas Association at (630) 515-0600. If you have access to the Internet, the National Propane Gas Association's address on 'The Propane Gas Network' is

Or you can send your questions via e-mail to