Is propane a lifestyle choice or an ecologically friendly way to attain greater energy efficiency?

For builder Bob Knight, co-owner of Paul Homes in Cape Coral, Fla., it’s both. The combination of energy savings and outdoor luxuries is what prompted him to run most of his new home on propane-inside and out.

After he decided to install a propane-fueled grill and back-up generator in his new home, he kept finding more uses for propane. Now, propane is the energy source for a pool and spa heater, a fire feature in the pool, a fire pit, two tankless water heaters, a clothes dryer, and a wood-burning fireplace with a gas starter.

While saving money on his utility bills wasn’t Knight’s primary goal in using propane, it’s been a nice bonus. He estimates that he is saving about $1,300 per year on his total (gas and electric) utility bill-and that’s in a 3,500-square-foot, two-story home with 5.5 bathrooms.

“Electricity is still relatively inexpensive in Florida now, but I anticipate the cost per kilowatt hour will go up,” says Knight. “My energy costs are lower with this new home than they were in my 2,600-square-foot old home, and I think propane is what’s made the difference. Plus, it doesn’t take long to pay for itself.”

Knight’s experience is not atypical: PERC’s research with the Propane Energy Pod shows that installing propane systems instead of those running on other energy types frequently reduces overall energy costs-even in warmer climate zones like Florida.

The builder does a lot of entertaining, “so it’s great to have propane for everything in the backyard,” says Knight, who finished his home in May 2010. “I like sitting around a fire with no smoke, watching water from the fire bowl spill into the pool. I can heat up the spa or use the grill without having to worry about running out of gas.”

Knight’s extensive use of propane has also become a selling tool for him. “A lot of our customers aren’t familiar with propane, but once I tell them that I use it at my own home, that they won’t even see the underground tank, and that the delivery process is easy, then they’re comfortable with it,” he says. “Once they go for putting in a tank I say, ‘Let’s look at the things you can add on to this for the future.'”

To learn how to incorporate propane products into your next project, be sure to check out our free online CEU courses, available at the Propane Training Academy.