Building for comfort may seem straightforward, but it can be particularly subjective for homeowners. Research has validated that for many homeowners, home heating is a unique experience, and perceptions of its effectiveness depend on a number of variables beyond air temperature, including the appliance selection, building envelope, and even psychology.

Fortunately, propane-powered heating systems offer a variety of options that can deliver comfort without adversely affecting the project’s overall cost effectiveness—or its carbon footprint.

Here are some of the ways that propane-powered heating systems can help builders and remodelers develop a year-round heating strategy that satisfies contractors and homeowners alike.

Propane Furnaces

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Propane furnaces provide warmer heated air than air source heat pumps (ASHPs). In both mixed and cold climates, the heating performance of ASHPs are subject to the air supply at the register. If the air temperature from the register is below skin temperature, it’s going to feel like cool, especially at velocity. This is because electric heat pumps use a refrigerant to scavenge heat from outdoor air. As outdoor temperatures fall, less heat is available so the supply air temperature falls, making the air feel cool on the skin until supplemental electric resistance heating comes on. One study from Hanley Wood University determined that air from ASHPs registers below human body temperature about 60% of the season run time, even in mixed climate environments. By contrast, propane furnaces, which heat with combustion, consistently supply air between 115-125 degrees Fahrenheit, regardless of outdoor temperature. Learn more about the Hanley Wood Study in the Ultimate Guide to Comfortable Heating.

Tankless Water Heaters

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Savvy contractors know that tankless propane water heaters offer homeowners a practically limitless supply of hot water while freeing up usable space. But an innovative new technology gives tankless water heaters another advantage for both new construction and retrofits: they can be used to heat the home with a compatible forced-air heating system. New air-handling units and controls from manufacturers like Rinnai are designed to work with tankless water heaters. These compact, propane-powered systems warm air in hydronic heating loops as its blown into the home at up to 94% efficiency. Learn how to optimize a hydronic forced-air installation with a video series in the Ultimate Guide to Comfortable Heating.

Radiant Heating

Radiant heat provides homebuyers a different experience than forced air heating. Because warm water is pumped around the home from a boiler, even surfaces like floors stay at a steady, cozy temperature regardless of the outside temperature. A hybrid system combining a heat pump with a high-efficiency propane condensing boiler not only provides reliable comfort but can be cheaper for homeowners to operate than electric and oil systems, particularly in rural markets where natural gas is less available. See how one plumbing and heating specialist designed his own high-performance heating system in the Ultimate Guide to Comfortable Heating Systems.

Geothermal Heating

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In cooler markets, geothermal heating and cooling—which use underground loops to transfer heat to or from the ground—are growing in popularity. Not only are they an effective way to lower homeowner energy consumption and carbon footprint, but federal tax credits and rebates from power companies have made them affordable. But geothermal heating systems have their shortcomings: like all heat pumps, they struggle with efficiency at extreme temperatures. Propane furnaces and boilers can complement geothermal systems to improve performance under extreme conditions while maintaining a system’s low carbon footprint. In fact, dual-fuel systems like these can be eligible for a federal tax credit up to 30%. One solution is to use a propane boiler to charge a buffer tank so heated or cooled solution can be distributed to different zones of the home as needed. In fact, using propane to back up a geothermal system allows contractors to size smaller loop systems, helping to keep upfront costs manageable and accelerating return on investment for the homeowner—while ensuring consistent comfort. Learn how to fine-tune a hybrid geothermal heating system for maximum comfort and efficiency in the Ultimate Guide to Comfortable Heating Systems.

Your local propane supplier will be happy to answer questions for builders, remodelers, contractors—and homeowners--about efficient heating systems as well as standby generators, community propane systems, and more. You can find a supplier near you by clicking here.

For more information about heating with propane, download the Ultimate Guide to Comfortable Heating Systems by the Propane Education and Research Council.