Energy costs are the primary way homeowners perceive the value of heating systems. Construction professionals can accommodate this tendency by providing prospective buyers with energy cost estimates for the systems they are considering. That’s why the Propane Education & Research Council created the Heating Energy Cost and Carbon Calculator last year. Now updated with more current energy prices and carbon dioxide emissions data, as well as more precise building specifications, the online tool gives builders and remodelers a good way to help homeowners choose a system.

In the default mode, the updated calculator uses average prices for propane, oil, and electricity compiled at the state level by the Energy Information Administration in 2010; the previous version used 2009 prices. As always, users can enter the actual energy rates in their area to produce the most accurate and up-to-date cost estimates.

The calculator also uses more recent data about average carbon dioxide emissions, reported by the Environmental Protection Agency.

In addition to updated data, the calculator was changed to report results in terms of annual energy cost. How much a system costs in a year to run is a more common way to think about operating cost than the tool’s previous method, which reported the cost per Btu.

The Heating Energy Cost and Carbon Calculator is just one component of the Interactive Training Module. Users should also try the Propane Energy Pod Tool, the Virtual Home, the Comparative Heating Map, and the Propane Product and Appliance Directory.