Energy efficiency priority at Phoenix Show Home

Read our article in July’s Observer


The Phoenix Group Show Home project brings together the skills of The Phoenix Group’s Exeter Development, Icon Architecture and Phoenix Construction, in designing and building a show home that the public can follow through a blog online. The house is being built for local family Brad and Trish Watts whose experiences are also recorded on the blog. How to create an energy efficient home has become a big issue for many people when they start thinking of building their own home and it was one of the Phoenix Group’s mandates in designing their showhome. Starting with a manageable sized home and using the Flowers Fox Block System was a great start for the building envelope but finding ways to curb electrical consumption was paramount on the list of priorities for the group. Enter Home Gas and their impressive array of products designed to do just that! 

Smart homeowners and builders today know that using propane appliances is the best way to make their homes more energy efficient and significantly reduce their power bill. “Since propane has long been recognized as a safe low-carbon, eco-friendly energy, it’s also a great way to “go green” and benefit from the extra value, reliability, and versatility of gas appliances,” says Dayne Brady, general manager of Home Gas. 

To get the project going, Brady met with the Watts to determine which appliances they desired to have in their home. “Based on their choices, we were able to calculate the optimal size of the propane tank needed to meet the total gas demand on their system,” says Brady. “For both aesthetic and safety reasons, a 1,000 gallon propane tank has been buried in their yard and secured underground with anchors, stainless steel straps and cathodic protection.” 

Brady says that the biggest priority for the installation of propane appliances at the Watts residence is to ensure the installations are done in strict adherence to the National Fire Protection Association codes governing propane safety. Home Gas technicians are fully trained professionals who understand the importance of following every step in safely installing a propane appliance or storage tank, so all installed gas lines have been or will be pressure tested and certified as gas tight before and after the appliances have been installed. 

The propane-fueled appliances selected for the home include air conditioning, an island style kitchen range, a tankless hot water heater, and a clothes dryer (which will also come with its matching electrical washing machine). For the outdoor area, the Watts will have a gas-fired kitchen with a barbecue grill, side burners and refrigerator, along with fire pits, Tiki torches, and a propane-powered generator. These appliances will enable the Watts family to significantly reduce their energy costs. 

To keep their home at a comfortably cool temperature Home Gas is installing a Robur high energy-efficient and low environmental impact propane gas-fired absorption air chiller. This air cooling system will air condition their home and reduce electric consumption at the same time since it draws less than 1 electrical kWh to produce 57,700 BTU/h in cooling mode. Robur units are installed outdoors and do not require any special indoor equipment room. From an environmental standpoint, it features low pollution emission and natural refrigerant fluids; plus, heated water may easily be recovered from the Robur unit for use in Jacuzzis or other similar applications. 

Professional chefs know gas cooktops and ranges in a kitchen are an excellent way to prepare food and the Watts have chosen a propane range that will be mounted in an island within their kitchen. Because gas burners provide instant heat, they’ll have greater control over the temperatures when cooking food. Also, they’re much more energy efficient than their electric counterparts. 

Similarly a tankless water heater is energy saving as it is so efficient at heating water on demand. It only heats the water when it’s needed, so the Watts’ residence will never run out of hot water. Brady explains, “The Noritz unit we’re installing has a flow rate of 9.3 gallons of hot water per minute — enough hot water to supply up to four showers simultaneously and the temperature can be quickly adjusted up or down to your preference, so it will always be just right.” 

With features like coated copper heat exchangers to prevent deterioration, and internal piping 25 per cent thicker than base models to extend product life, these heavy duty residential tank less water heaters are manufactured to last. Their unique ability to start quickly off a battery back-up will keep the hot water flowing even if their power goes out. Plus, propane tank less water heaters cost about 60 per cent less to operate than a standard electric unit. They’re also better for the environment, giving off less than one-half the carbon dioxide emissions and reducing standby energy loss up to 20 per cent. 

For doing their laundry, the Watts have chosen a high efficiency propane clothes dryer, along with its matching electrical washing machine, also from Home Gas. Clothes dry more evenly than with an electric model and the moist heat of gas dryers is a more gentle way of drying fabrics and also produces less static cling. Brady says another way that the dryers are energy efficient is that many gas dryers can sense when clothes are dry, which saves energy. They also tend to be kinder on clothes because the shorter drying time reduces the risk of shrinkage and deterioration of clothes and linens. But perhaps the most important point to note is that gas dryers can save you up to 60 per cent of the energy cost of a conventional electric dryer which will be critical for the Watts and their growing family! 

For their outside pool area the Watts are having a built-in barbecue grill with side burners installed on their patio. Grilling outdoors keeps the heat of cooking outside and give both the air-conditioning and power bill a break inside. Propane grills heat faster than charcoal grills and release fewer, harmful emissions. A stainless steel 18 cu.ft propane refrigerator will complete the Watt’s outdoor kitchen. 

Outside lighting will also be propane friendly special Malama Luau tiki torches will illuminate the pool area for both accent lighting and to light the access way to the boat dock. These propane torches are hand-crafted in stainless steel and are corrosion proof, made strong enough to withstand even Cayman’s salt air.  

Brady says, “We are delighted to be partnering with the Phoenix Group of companies and to be able to showcase the variety of eco-friendly propane products that are available.” He adds, “Learning how to design and build green, environmentally responsible and resource-efficient homes such as the Watts residence is becoming the primary focus of responsible developers and is key to the future of the Cayman Islands.” 


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