Propane: A Clean Energy Solution for Tomorrow That’s Available Today

Electrification is often presented as an optimal way to reduce carbon emissions, but it’s simply not practical to rely on electricity alone. No single energy source can solve the long-term environmental challenges the world faces.

Why isn’t all electrification the answer? The infrastructure required to keep up with the electrification movement would take decades to build and cost trillions of dollars with much of that burden falling on those who can afford it least.

Everyone deserves access to clean, reliable energy. That’s why it’s important for builders, remodelers, and other construction professionals to consider a mix of clean energy options, including propane.

How Can Propane Be Used?

Propane can be used to power residential and commercial appliances and systems including space and water heating, backup power, cooking appliances, clothes dryers, fireplaces, and outdoor living applications. According to the Propane Education & Research Council (PERC), there are currently nearly 13 million U.S. households using propane for space heating, water heating, or cooking. That number is continuously growing as builders, remodelers, and homeowners are choosing propane for their construction projects. Propane provides a reliable, efficient energy solution right now.

Propane is a portable energy source that can be stored on-site, allowing developments to be located anywhere. It gives developers the chance to build projects on land that they’d previously thought to be less desirable because natural gas wasn’t available.

Not only does propane help reduce the strain on the fragile electric grid, but it provides customers with a stable, resilient, on-site energy source, and allows homes to safely function even when there are interruptions with the grid. Propane systems and appliances can continue to function when there is a power outage and adding a propane-powered backup generator can further help customers achieve a more resilient home.

Can Propane Appliances Decrease a User’s Carbon Footprint?

Electrification is typically looked at as a zero-emissions solution, but when full-fuel-cycle emissions are considered, construction professionals—and their customers—will see that there are compelling reasons to choose propane. Propane is clean, environmentally friendly, and an excellent way to reduce emissions while meeting a customer’s energy needs. Propane produces significantly fewer carbon emissions compared to electricity for key residential applications, including water heating. Propane tankless water heaters, for example, can produce up to 61% fewer greenhouse gas emissions, 47% fewer nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions, and 91% fewer sulfur oxide (SOx) emissions than electric storage tank water heaters, according to data from PERC.

Additionally, using propane produces 52% fewer greenhouse gas emissions than using an equivalent amount of electricity generated from the U.S. grid. That is because more than 60% of the energy consumed in power plants is lost during production, transmission, or transformation before it gets to its destination. Those power plant emissions are concentrated at the source and have a greater impact on the communities near them.

Propane can complement on-site solar PV to reduce emissions while providing reliability—especially during challenging weather conditions. Propane standby generators are permanently installed on-site, providing quiet, efficient, and clean peace of mind. Power kicks in almost instantly when needed so there’s no disruption to critical infrastructure.

As a clean, reliable, and versatile power solution, propane is part of an essential and diverse mix of energy sources that can be used in industries ranging from large buildings to home construction. And with important innovations on the horizon, propane will be able to serve the needs of future generations by providing even more sustainable solutions.

Jim Bunsey ([email protected]) is the director of commercial business development at the Propane Education & Research Council.

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