Six Upgrades to Lower a Building’s Energy Consumption Propane is a reliable and efficient energy source

As the commercial construction industry continues to focus on sustainability, it’s more important than ever to power buildings and developments with clean energy sources like propane.

Powering critical systems and appliances with propane can help maximize efficiency and cost savings while reducing a building’s carbon footprint. Propane’s versatility extends to a wide variety of applications including water heaters, furnaces, ranges and ovens, fireplaces, and generators.

While there’s been significant hype about the presumed sustainability of electric systems and appliances, it’s important to remember that there are other ways for a building to approach zero net energy levels—one that uses multiple energy sources, like propane, for an all-encompassing efficient approach that can help expedite a project and help save construction and operational costs.


Propane furnaces offer great flexibility, making them a good fit for many different commercial buildings. With capacity from 44,000 Btu/h up to more than 1 million Btu/h and efficiency levels of 80 to 98.5 percent, these furnaces can meet very specific commercial demands.

Lower-capacity propane furnaces can even qualify for an Energy Star label, which translates to savings of 20 percent or more on energy costs over a standard furnace. In addition to high-efficiency equipment, properly sized furnaces and RTUs help optimize efficiency by reducing energy use and increasing the equipment’s longevity.


Propane boilers add value to commercial buildings by serving both space heating and water heating needs with high-efficiency levels, reliability, and versatility. With space heating capacities of up to 8.6 million Btu/h, they can support many applications.

Some propane boilers are Energy Star qualified and have AFUE ratings of 90 percent or higher, making them at least 11 percent more efficient than minimum-efficiency models. Further, propane boilers qualifying for Energy Star’s Most Efficient label—an AFUE rating of 95 or greater—and can save over 15 percent on energy costs compared to a minimum-efficiency boiler.

Propane boilers provide high volumes of hot water for domestic consumption as well as related applications like laundry, often with the same boiler that provides space heating.

Water heaters

Effective in both new commercial projects and as replacements in existing buildings, high-efficiency propane water heaters—both storage tank and tankless models—offer versatile, efficient, high-performance solutions for many commercial applications.

Propane storage tank water heaters have efficiency features such as added insulation to reduce heat loss from the stored water and electronic ignition to eliminate the fuel consumption of a standing pilot light. Some units also have increased burner surface area to optimize heat transfer and overall efficiency. Additionally, propane storage tank water heaters offer capacities of 100 gallons or more, along with the ability to heat water up to 180 degrees Fahrenheit.

Propane tankless water heaters save valuable square footage within commercial buildings with their compact, space-saving design. Not only do they offer efficiency levels of up to 98 percent, but they also deliver endless, on-demand hot water and have a life cycle up to 20 years, strengthening their value proposition in commercial applications.

Despite their higher initial cost, propane tankless water heaters can offer attractive paybacks—better reliability and long-term energy savings. In high-demand commercial applications, such as hotels, restaurants, or hospitals, where high flow rates and/or high temperatures are crucial, banking multiple tankless units together in larger groups provides a high value design solution.

Cooking equipment

Superior temperature control, instant-on burners, greater heating capacity levels, even heat distribution, and design flexibility are a few reasons why 96 percent of professional chefs prefer cooking exclusively with gas over electric models. Delivering professional-grade performance while decreasing energy consumption, propane cooking equipment provides convenience and functionality in any commercial kitchen.

Clothes dryers

Commercial propane clothes dryers provide laundry functions for numerous building types, with a range of capacities and performance options to meet specific needs. Burner capacities generally range from 18,000 Btu/h to well over 550,000 Btu/h. Propane dryers outperform their electric counterparts by providing faster drying times. In addition, many propane models feature perforated drums for more balanced air flow, recirculating air design for energy savings, and numerous other technologies for improved performance and efficiency.


Commercial propane generators provide supplemental power for a building’s electrical loads when the electric grid is interrupted. They are typically installed as fully automated systems that ramp up quickly for power and hands-off operation with capacities ranging from 5 to 400 kW. Plus, propane doesn’t degrade over time like those other fuels, so it’s always ready when it’s needed most.

For more information about how commercial propane applications increase a building’s energy efficiency, visit

Jim Bunsey is the director of commercial business development at the Propane Education & Research Council. He can be reached at

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