Letter: Propane Buses
Bill Overbaugh
The Post-Star

There is a lot of money available to promote the electrification of bus fleets. However, that’s because they are not economically viable on their own and require significant public grants to overcome the cost differential. A diesel bus costs $170,000. An electric bus costs $470,000, plus the charging infrastructure, which in some cases (especially rural upstate school districts) can be over a million dollars. The sad truth is that, even with all the incentives, grants, rebates, and loans electric school buses STILL COST SIGNIFICANTLY MORE money than the other alternatives.

But there is a way to have your cake and eat it too. New York State has more school districts operating propane school buses than any other state in the country. Propane buses cost $10,000 more than diesel buses and have extremely low NOx and absolutely no SOx emissions. They achieve the same public health benefits that an electric bus does at a fraction of the cost. What’s more important is that the fuel is significantly less than diesel or gasoline, the infrastructure is already in place, and manufacturers are already turning out thousands of propane-powered school buses every year. The smart move would be to include ultra-low-emission propane buses as part of the mandate. Propane can drive both environmental and fiscal responsibility from the statehouse down to individual districts.

It is a shame that New York State is taking a very narrow-minded approach of electrification when there are cost-effective, reliable, proven technologies that can achieve carbon reduction goals, public health benefit goals, and reduce the taxpayer burden. We encourage that state to open up to these alternatives.

Convert Your Wood Burning Fireplace to Propane

gas fireplace
On a cold day, there’s nothing like a fire in the fireplace. It not only warms the home, it warms the soul, inviting you to leave the day’s cares behind and get cozy.

But having to set up and maintain a wood burning fireplace can be a time-consuming and expensive chore. And if your fireplace is in a state of disrepair, using it can be dangerous.

There are many people who have faced these situations who have found a solution. They have converted their old wood-burning fireplaces to safe propane gas-burning fireplaces.

Why not consider joining them and add a propane fireplace to your home? If you need an incentive, get started now and you’ll be able to enjoy your brand new propane fireplace in time for the holiday season.

You might be wondering how much propane a fireplace would use. Here’s a simple answer: A propane fireplace uses about one gallon of propane per 100,000 BTU. So, if you are getting a propane fireplace that is rated 50,000 BTU, you’ll be using one gallon of propane every two hours your propane fireplace is operating.

When you consider the time and money you spend on a wood fireplace, you may find that propane is a much better deal for your home and your lifestyle.

Propane hearths: heat without the hassle

Today’s propane hearths bring you all the cozy warmth and comfort of a traditional wood burning fireplace, without most of the drawbacks and with some benefits you’ll never get from a wood fireplace.

You can get propane hearths in many forms. They’re available as freestanding stoves, built-in fireplaces and sealed fireplace inserts that can be directly installed in your existing mantle. That kind of flexibility lets you enjoy all the benefits of a propane fireplace, whether or not you have a fireplace already.

What are the advantages of a propane hearth or fireplace? Here are a few:

Convenience: A propane fireplace gives you the warmth, glow and comfort you want on-demand. No need to lug in wood, build a fire, and wait for it to get started. Most of today’s propane fireplaces come equipped with thermostats that let you control the heat output and flame intensity from the comfort of your couch.

Health effects: Wood smoke smells good, but it’s not that good for you. Fine particles (also called fine particulate matter) are the biggest health threat from wood smoke. These microscopic particles can cause serious problems with your respiratory system, raise the risk of heart attacks, and more. Using a propane fireplace lets you avoid these health risks.

Environmental impact: Did you know that burning wood produces about 28 pounds of smog-producing particulate emissions — the soot and ash — per MMBTUs (million BTUs) of heat output? Meanwhile, propane produces less than 1% of that amount. Do some good for the environment by switching your wood fireplace to propane, and shrink the carbon footprint of your New York home.

Efficiency: A propane fireplace operates at around 80 percent efficiency. It’s about four to five times more efficient than a wood fireplace.

Propane fireplace insert trends

A propane fireplace insert gives you all the efficiency, ease and convenience of a propane hearth, inside the attractive framework of an existing masonry fireplace. Here’s what else you get:

More realistic flames: Improved gas technology has created flames that flicker and dance, looking more like a real wood fire.
Adjustable heat: With a wood fireplace, you can’t control its heat levels. With a propane fireplace insert, you can fire it up on a cold winter day, or dial it down so it’s just enough to feel cozy on a crisp autumn day, with multi-stage temperature controls.

More sizes: Is your wood fireplace opening too narrow or small for a typical fireplace insert? Propane fireplaces with smaller inserts are becoming more common, so you, too, can enjoy the benefits of propane.

Smarter fireplace inserts: Propane fireplace inserts not only give you a fire in the fireplace on-demand, but can also be programmed to turn on and off at set times. They even have an option to let you program temperature settings for specific times of the day or night.

High-efficiency backup heat: With today’s energy-efficient propane fireplace inserts, you can get a better source of supplemental heat for your home than a wood fireplace.

Fireplace inserts with blowers: Do you have an open-concept living space? Do you have a large space to heat, like a rec room? We’ve got good news for you. Some propane fireplace inserts now come with multi-speed blowers. They push warm air out from in front of the fireplace to the far corners of the room for more even and comfortable heating.

Masonry fireplace refinishing: By adding a propane fireplace insert, you have the chance to update your existing masonry fireplace’s look to anything from sleek contemporary to modern farmhouse a la “Fixer Upper” without breaking the bank.

How to light a propane fireplace

One of the biggest advantages a propane fireplace offers is how fast, easy and work-free it is to get a roaring fire going. All you have to do is simply use a remote control or flip a switch.

Sometimes, however, the fire does not appear. Problems such as this often occur due to a lack of maintenance. We’ve got some troubleshooting tips for you.

If your fireplace has a conventional pilot light:

NOTE: Some of the newer propane fireplaces have electric igniters instead of the standing pilot lights. They’re great for efficiency, but they are not easy to repair for a DIYer. It’s best to call in the experts if you have this type of fireplace.

Need advice on propane fireplaces? Reach out to your local propane company. They’ll be glad to help!