Industry Blogs

Propane heating systems have an edge when it comes to comfort, efficiency, and emissions On average, more than half of a household’s annual energy consumption is used for space heating and air conditioning, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA). Seasonal and energy-intensive uses can vary based on geographic location, home size and structure Read more

Propane heating systems have an edge when it comes to comfort, efficiency, and emissions

On average, more than half of a household’s annual energy consumption is used for space heating and air conditioning, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA).

Seasonal and energy-intensive uses can vary based on geographic location, home size and structure, and energy sources used. Because of higher space-heating demand, homes in the Northeast and Midwest regions consume more energy on average than homes in the South and West regions, for example. Additionally, larger homes and families tend to use more energy overall than smaller households.

There are more options than ever for home heating, and there are several different factors to take into consideration when selecting the best system for your customers. Whether your customers are looking to reduce energy consumption and costs, decrease their carbon footprint, or enjoy more comfortable home heating, propane-powered systems can provide a reliable solution for homeowners across the country. According to data from the Propane Education & Research Council (PERC), more than 7.5 million households rely on propane for primary or secondary home heating.

Here are three key advantages of propane-powered systems to share with your customers next time they ask about home heating solutions.

Homeowners can save more on energy costs with propane

The efficiency of a home heating system can greatly impact its utility costs. For homeowners looking to reduce their energy consumption — and their bills — high-efficiency propane furnaces are a great choice. Propane furnaces offer best-in-class efficiency, with ratings from 90 to 98 percent. Further, ENERGY STAR-qualified propane furnaces are up to 15 percent more efficient than standard propane models and can save up to $75 in energy costs each year, according to data from PERC.

In a comparative analysis of residential heating systems, Newport Partners, LLC examined the performance of seven heating systems in 16 different locations for new and existing homes. Each system was analyzed and compared in terms of its first cost, energy cost, emissions, and simple payback period. The research revealed several cost advantages to selecting a propane furnace, including low annual energy costs. Notably, the annual energy costs of a high-efficiency propane furnace were $1,650, which is 10 percent lower than standard-efficiency ASHPs and 14 percent lower than heating oil furnaces. When used as a backup for an air- or ground-source heat pump system in the place of electric heating coils the efficiency of the systems is also improved and further protects homeowners from rising utility costs when temperatures drop.

Beyond annual energy costs, propane systems offer more competitive upfront costs and payback periods, too. High-efficiency propane furnaces typically cost less to purchase and install than heating oil and ground-source heat pump systems. Additionally, homeowners purchasing a high-efficiency propane furnace for a new home in a cold climate could recoup their initial costs in two years due to low equipment and energy costs. By contrast, it could take a homeowner more than 20 years to recoup the initial cost of a ground source heat pump system through energy savings.

Propane systems provide warmth and comfort

Comfort can often be a deciding factor for homeowners. They want systems that can provide comfortable, consistent heat. Fortunately, propane furnaces are perfect for eliminating cold pockets in a home. These systems heat air to a higher initial temperature, getting to a homeowner’s desired temperature faster and maintaining it more effectively.

Because propane-powered furnaces heat air to 115–125 degrees Fahrenheit, they make the indoor air feel warmer and more consistent than heat from air source heat pumps (ASHPs), which often supply temperatures lower than 100 degrees Fahrenheit and are more affected by cold outdoor temperatures.

Propane systems support environmentally-conscious customers

When making decisions for homeowners heating systems remember those customers are placing more of a priority on reducing their carbon footprint. One way that homeowners can decrease emissions is by having their home’s systems and appliances run on propane instead of electricity.

According to data from PERC, residential propane furnaces can emit up to 50 percent fewer greenhouse gas emissions than electric furnaces and 12 percent fewer greenhouse gas emissions than fuel oil furnaces. Further, propane-powered furnaces produce up to 35 percent fewer nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions and 82 percent fewer sulfur oxide (SOx) emissions than electric furnaces. And in colder and mixed climates, high-efficiency propane-fueled furnaces produce at least 26 percent fewer carbon dioxide emissions compared to standard-efficiency electric air-source heat pumps. It is extremely important for you to be prepared to educate your customers about these differences and not leave them out in the cold.

To learn more about the benefits of propane heating systems, visit Propane.com/Furnaces-Boilers.

Bryan Cordill is director of residential and commercial business development for the Propane Education & Research Council. He can be reached at bryan.cordill@propane.com.

Some brands become so popular people begin to refer to all products in the category by that name, such as Kleenex or Band-Aid. Similarly, push-to-connect fittings weren’t quite as popular as they are today until Reliance Worldwide Corporation (RWC) introduced them to the U.S. market nearly 20 years ago. It revolutionized the category and made Read more

Some brands become so popular people begin to refer to all products in the category by that name, such as Kleenex or Band-Aid.

Similarly, push-to-connect fittings weren’t quite as popular as they are today until Reliance Worldwide Corporation (RWC) introduced them to the U.S. market nearly 20 years ago. It revolutionized the category and made the work of contractors and plumbers quicker, more efficient and more reliable. Now, SharkBite brass push fittings are the industry standard for push-to-connect plumbing— so much so that some people refer to fittings from other brands as SharkBite.

SharkBite’s Journey to the U.S.

After seeing the success of its push-to-connect fittings in Australia, water control and plumbing solutions manufacturer RWC introduced the fittings in the U.S. market as the SharkBite push-to-connect plumbing system in 2004. Today, SharkBite has become so popular that it is estimated a fitting connection is made every 2.5 seconds, according to the manufacturer’s data.

Fittings That Pushed the Boundaries of Plumbing Tech

Before push-to-connect technology, plumbers could only rely on soldering, gluing or using a specialized tool to connect pipes. These methods are sufficient in some cases but can be challenging when transitioning between different pipe types or installing in tight spaces.

To address these issues, SharkBite designed its push-to-connect fittings to connect different pipe types such as PEX, copper, CPVC, PE-RT and HDPE in tight spaces without special tools, crimps, glue or soldering.

Further Advancing Push-to-connect Technology

With SharkBite’s success, especially as a solution for emergency repairs and pipe transitions, RWC continued to build upon its innovations in push-to-connect technology:

  • SharkBite introduced its own brand of durable yet flexible PEX pipe into North America. The pipe enables quicker leak repairs compared to rigid copper pipe and is often quicker to install in tight spaces.
  • The company launched 1-1/4 in., 1-1/2 in. and 2 in. SharkBite fittings, which gives contractors who work on commercial projects the ability to work quicker using push-to-connect technology.
  • SharkBite launched EvoPEX fittings. The groundbreaking PEX-only fitting system for meter-to-fixture installation allows for faster and more reliable installations on new construction jobsites.

A Connection You Can Trust

Plumbers can trust the secure fit of a push-to-connect fitting thanks to its tight-sealing o-ring, pipe-locking stainless steel grab ring and corrosion-resistant brass body. All of its parts work together to make a 3-second connection long-lasting, and the fittings require no tools, can be connected in wet lines and are compatible with multiple types of pipe.

SharkBite’s Legacy

Every new product SharkBite introduces is created to empower contractors to work smarter, not harder. By reducing installation times, SharkBite gives contractors time back that they can spend on parts of their job that require more resources, like growing their business and investing in their workforce.

Michael Kornegay is the SharkBite product manager at RWC — a market leader and manufacturer of water control systems and plumbing solutions for residential, commercial and industrial applications.

 

You might be surprised to know that more than 50% of the reported work-related injuries in the United States are due to manual handling. This is specifically true for those employees who work in construction, transportation, agriculture, and storage. These people are at greater health risks and are more likely to suffer from some sort Read more

You might be surprised to know that more than 50% of the reported work-related injuries in the United States are due to manual handling. This is specifically true for those employees who work in construction, transportation, agriculture, and storage. These people are at greater health risks and are more likely to suffer from some sort of injury. This is why purchasing safety equipment from a lifting equipment store can be quite beneficial. The lifting equipment contributes to a company’s safety standards while significantly reducing the risks of work-related injuries.

Read on to learn more about some top steps to ensure safer ways to lift and handle.

Assess the Environment and Work Situations

Before the employees start with their day, they ought to consider the weights that they are to lift in connection to the distance that they are to cover. This means that a thorough assessment of the situation is an essential step to safer lifting and weight handling. This also includes measuring the distance from the pick-up spot of the load to the point where it is to set down. The employees should refrain from lifting more than what they can safely manage. The frequency of their activity also plays a role in their well-being. A careful assessment of the work situation and workload includes evaluating what can be lifted safely and what will require lifting equipment. Lifting equipment can assist with the mechanical completion of the task instead of laboring with it manually. You might also want to switch to mechanical help for the coverage of greater distance.

Rearrangement of the Task

If the task at hand seems dangerous, it is always worth checking whether it can be rearranged instead of hot-headedly proceeding with it. If greater risks are involved, the employees might want to avoid lifting load altogether. Precautionary steps have to be taken so that potential risks of injury can be minimized. For instance, if a heavy load is involved, the employees might want to rearrange the task to push the weight instead of pulling it. The inclusion of more resting points in the face of more distance is also a good idea to minimize the potential risks of injury.

Rearrangement of the task includes the assessment of the nature of the weight. If a heavy load can be broken into smaller units, it will ease the task and decrease work-related injury risks. The employees also need to assess whether they can grasp the load easier by getting a better grasp on it. Another idea might be to pack up sharp items into solid boxes to prevent the objects.

Safer Lifting techniques

The implementation of safer lifting techniques includes the addition of lifting equipment. These will decrease the pressure on employees while improving their productivity. More work can be accomplished within less time, without imposing the risks of getting injured or damaging the loaded items. In addition to lifting equipment, the employees need to focus on adopting better and more stable body postures during their tasks.

Use these tips to keep customers comfortable this winter Do you know how to ensure your tankless water heater installations perform optimally this winter? Tankless water heaters — known for their on-demand hot water, low energy use, and compact size — are popular among homeowners. Propane-powered systems offer an additional advantage: they can be installed Read more

Use these tips to keep customers comfortable this winter

Do you know how to ensure your tankless water heater installations perform optimally this winter?

Tankless water heaters — known for their on-demand hot water, low energy use, and compact size — are popular among homeowners. Propane-powered systems offer an additional advantage: they can be installed virtually anywhere.

For customers located in regions that experience snow and frigid temperatures, there are a few considerations for HVAC professionals to keep in mind to ensure their customers’ comfort year-round.

Here are eight tips for specifying, installing, and maintaining tankless systems in cold climates:

  1. Size the unit for the cold. As temperatures drop, more time and energy are needed to heat water to the desired level. To ensure customers’ tanks meet demand throughout the year, it’s important to know how they’ll perform in cold weather. For example, in Washington D.C., a unit that can produce 8.5 GPM on a hot summer day will only produce 5 to 6 GPM on a cold winter day.
  1. Design for the coldest conditions. Be aware of how low ground temperatures can go and how much water a household will need. Also consider the difference between the set unit temperature and the ground temperature, also known as the Delta T. The bigger the gap, the lower the unit’s flow rate will be.
  1. Bring it inside. Many tankless systems have some degree of built-in freeze protection. Check the product specs, and your region’s historical weather patterns, to determine where to install the tank.
  1. Vent smart. Proper venting is important. Installations should avoid freezing winds and have sufficiently long vent runs. In cold areas, the minimum vent run recommendation is six feet.
  1. Keep vents clear of snow. Before a snowstorm, remind customers to keep a few feet around the vent clear of snow. Some tankless models offer air intake from the outer pipe — if that’s blocked, the unit may turn itself off.
  1. Educate customers with recirculators. For customers whose systems have a recirculating loop, remind them to turn off that function when bad weather is on the way. If the vent termination is snowed under, the unit will eventually power off with an error code.
  1. Consider condensation. Drain condensate from condensing units into a conditioned space to avoid drain freezes, which will cause the unit to turn off.
  1. Be ready with backup power. Many tankless systems need electricity for freeze protection and ignition. A propane standby generator can help ensure that customers’ hot water will continue to flow, even during a power outage.

For more information about propane tankless water heaters, visit Propane.com/Water-Heating.

Bryan Cordill is director of residential and commercial business development for the Propane Education & Research Council. He can be reached at bryan.cordill@propane.com.

 

There’s a long-held assumption that the more technology you introduce to your business model, the less human interaction you get. Unfortunately, this rationale causes many businesses to put so much emphasis on their digital capabilities that customer service standards go to the wayside. When you’re in the business of plumbing, delivering your essential services will Read more

There’s a long-held assumption that the more technology you introduce to your business model, the less human interaction you get. Unfortunately, this rationale causes many businesses to put so much emphasis on their digital capabilities that customer service standards go to the wayside.

When you’re in the business of plumbing, delivering your essential services will always require interaction with your customers at some stage of the process. Therefore, providing poor customer service and hoping your advanced technology makes up for it might as well be a death sentence for your business.

In reality, technology should not be seen as a replacement for excellent customer service, but rather as a necessary tool for enhancing the overall customer experience.

For Mr. Rooter Plumbing, a Neighborly company, we’ve found in recent years that not only does implementing various advanced plumbing technologies such as the use of video inspection equipment or video conferencing and consultations improve the work we do in the homes of our customers but incorporating technology into the customer relations aspect of our business has led to happier, more loyal customers across our global network. Here’s why…

Customers want convenience, and so do providers

Today’s consumers make their purchase decisions based primarily on convenience and instant gratification. Which restaurant is available and can deliver quickest through my favorite food delivery app? Which clothing store has a user-friendly website and offers free two-day shipping? The same mindset comes into play when looking for a home service provider: Which plumber is easiest to contact and can get the job done most efficiently?

Always try to think from the customer’s perspective. If someone is in need of a plumber, chances are they are stressed enough as it is. The least you can do for them is simplify the request and scheduling process with online and mobile options. Ideally, this simplifies things for you as the contractor as well. There is no need to invest all of your time, talent and resources in creating an intricate website for online scheduling, when the best approach is to make it simple and attractive with consumer-friendly usability. The more user-friendly your system is, the more customers you’ll attract. And with more customers, there’s a greater need for an intuitive system to help you keep track of those leads.

Customers expect professionalism

If a homeowner is paying a professional to complete a home service project for them, they want to feel confident that their money is going toward someone who knows what they’re doing. In the past, a plumber’s success was based on how well they could “paint a verbal picture” of the issue and its solution for a customer. Nowadays, a plumber who arrives with a mobile device or tablet ready to visually explain their recommended approach instantly increases his/her credibility as a trusted advisor as opposed to a salesman. Figuring out how to appropriately use technology to convey expertise is a skill that requires more advanced and ongoing training of your technicians, but it’s worthwhile to ensure your team can respond to service requests with the utmost professionalism.

Electronic communication also streamlines transactions between providers and customers. Invoices can be delivered directly via email so they don’t get lost in the mail. Messages can be sent and received in real time so there’s no frustration over playing phone tag. Customers can better prepare a technician for their visit by sending photos and videos of the issue at hand, which makes for a more prepared technician upon arrival. All of this conveys the image you want of an experienced and professional provider.

Customers want to feel safe

Being an essential service provider during a pandemic is both an opportunity and a challenge. While issues that require a plumber cannot be ignored, it is also a health risk both to the homeowner and to the technician alike for us to deliver those services directly to an individual’s home. Being invited into people’s homes in order to do our jobs is a privilege, especially in today’s environment, making it absolutely necessary to work safety measures such as wearing masks, washing hands, maintaining social distance, and more into our standard service call procedures.

With technology, we can take our precautionary measures a step further to create an experience as close to contactless as possible. Electronic capabilities for transactions such as providing estimates, sending invoices, and receiving payments are a must. For the service call itself, being digitally connected with our customers allows us to send arrival alerts, to pre-screen customers, and to possibly even provide expertise and direction entirely virtually for select home maintenance jobs that homeowners could accomplish themselves. By introducing these creative approaches to doing what is usually a very hands-on job, we show our customers that we realize giving them the best and most comfortable experience goes far beyond the job itself.

The time to evolve is now

Of course, the idea of implementing all of this advanced technology to your plumbing business may be a daunting concept for some contractors. You might even question if it’s worthwhile if the old-school business model you’ve always had is still working as far as you can tell. But with the growing prevalence of technology across all industries, chances are refusing to adapt will leave you behind your competitors who are rising to the occasion.

If you’re not comfortable making the changes yourself, consider hiring a consultant or perhaps even converting your business to a franchise model like Mr. Rooter to get the digital support you need. But one way or another, it’s time for your plumbing business to step into the future.

Glenn Gallas is the Vice President of Operations for Mr. Rooter Plumbing, a Neighborly company. Glenn’s career in franchising began as a franchise owner in 2000 of a Mr. Rooter Plumbing franchise. Glenn became a multi-franchise owner when he purchased a Mr. Electric franchise and then a Holiday Lighting franchise. Glenn is a veteran and has served in the US Army in both the active and reserve capacity and sees franchising as the best fit opportunity for veterans transitioning from the military to civilian life.