Respond to DOE rulemakings

April 25, 2024 By    

Recent rulemaking activities by the Department of Energy (DOE) are attacking the residential and commercial use of gas appliances.

It started with an attempt to eliminate gas cooking appliances in the kitchen, jumped to increased minimum efficiency proposals on gas furnaces, then to new water heater efficiency rules and finally a review of washers and dryers to mandate tougher efficiency standards.

All of this rulemaking activity can have a negative effect on the use of propane in four of the five energy-focused areas in the home. The fifth area, gas hearth products, has been under attack by DOE and others for years and, so far, has avoided major market damage. Fortunately, we have the National Propane Gas Association actively engaged with DOE in an attempt to prevent the rulemaking process from being one-sided.

Bad press

Even though some of the final DOE rules may end up not having a serious negative effect on the standards of some gas appliances, gas ranges being a good example, the steady drip of negative news and speculation being published about DOE rulemaking efforts is not good for the propane industry.

Appliance manufacturers, retailers and consumers are being fed a constant stream of negative viewpoints from the DOE about the current efficiency, environmental impact and operating cost of all appliances, especially gas models. Proposed rules range from minor efficiency upgrade requirements to elimination of some gas appliance models and types altogether.

All of this negative news can have a suffocating effect on your residential gas load, comparable in some ways to the Taylor Swift song, “Death by a Thousand Cuts.” Your propane customers will break up with their gas appliances over time, even though they are in love with the relationship. DOE rulemaking will cause them to drift apart unless you take action to improve that relationship. Here are a few actions to consider:

⦁ Promote the use of propane to your residential customers for all energy usage points in their homes. If you don’t employ periodic newsletters and statement inserts to communicate with your customers, it would be a good time to start. Giving them positive, reassuring news about the use of gas appliances will help to balance biased and underinformed reporting from other sources.

⦁ Promote propane appliance rebates that may be available in your area through the Propane Education & Research Council, your state or regional association, appliance manufacturers and in-house rebates you may want to offer. Electric-to-gas appliance switch-outs are the best value to you and the customer, but gas-to-gas changeouts will also ensure many years of that continued propane appliance relationship.

⦁ Form relationships with homebuilders and remodelers, HVAC companies and appliance retailers in your area. Leverage those relationships to educate, influence and reward them for considering propane appliances at all available energy points in the home.

⦁ If you are not already doing so, consider going into the appliance business. While outdoor living products are fun to market, also consider the five core areas of energy usage in the home – space heating, water heating, cooking, clothes drying and hearth equipment. Pick one or more of these areas in which to specialize, and be good at it. Choose brands that will work for your propane business and your customers. Consider what you need to do with your business model to sell, deliver, install and service the appliance categories you choose. Do you need to upgrade your service department, add to your vehicle lineup and perhaps create or expand a merchandise showroom?

These are big decisions not to be taken lightly, but the rewards include a more sustainable and profitable propane business. Taking no action means you could face “death by a thousand cuts” as your propane customers slowly drift apart from their gas appliances. Make the right decisions while you still can.

Tom Jaenicke is vice president of propane marketing services for Warm Thoughts Communications. He can be reached at or 810-252-7855.

Comments are currently closed.