Blog : Proulx Oil & Propane pioneers route toward greener-energy future

By Madelaine | Apr 17, 2014 | in

By Heikki Perry

NEWMARKET, N.H. — From the soot and smoke of coal when, in 1944, he first started the company, to cleaner and greener propane gas, Joe Proulx cemented his reputation as a forward thinking and environmentally minded business owner.

Now led by Joe Proulx’s grandsons Jim, John, and Tom Proulx, Proulx Oil & Propane continues to embrace cutting-edge technologies, steadfast customer service and ever-improving more efficient products. Proulx Oil & Propane and its other division, Proulx AutoGas, lead in providing sustainable products.

Proulx AutoGas focuses on fueling propane-powered vehicles and converting vehicles to propane use. AutoGas is propane used as a motor fuel. Proulx Oil & Propane also delivers biofuel and propane to residential and commercial customers in New Hampshire’s Rockingham, Strafford, Belknap, and Carol counties, and parts of Hillsborough County; to York and Oxford counties in Maine; and to Essex County in Massachusetts.

It’s an effort made easier by customers’ evolving “green” sensibilities. “The general trend is moving up towards more energy conservation,” Jim Proulx said in a recent interview.

For example, more and more people are using a programmable thermostat and otherwise trying to find other ways to conserve energy, such as installing an on-demand hot water heater, which only runs when needed and pays for itself in a short period of time.

“There also is a strong trend for homes heated with oil becoming homes heated with propane,” Jim Proulx said. “Propane is less expensive; the fuel burns cleaner; and it’s more versatile. You can use one fuel to heat the home and provide hot water, and to fuel the cooking, generators, fire places and gas grill. Propane has seen an increase in popularity because of economics, environmentalism, and convenience.”

Even on a Btu-per-cents basis propane is less costly than oil, Jim Proulx said, the price pushing 80 cents less a gallon on the use of 1,000 gallons a year. And propane is cleaner than oil because it burns more completely, creating fewer particulates, which means causing fewer byproducts of emissions, and therefore emitting less-harmful emissions.

Thanks to a fuel additive called Heat Force, with which the company treats all its heating products, Proulx is helping assure not only that its customers are burning cleaner fuel and cutting down their emissions, but also reducing their need for service calls.

Heat Force causes the fuel to be more finely atomized, meaning it’s sprayed into smaller drops to create a more complete combustion that reduces emissions. It reduces the amount of soot or particulate matter, which creates the need to clean boilers or fuel-burning systems. It also removes any other particulate matter through the system and through the tank, helping to eliminate sludge accumulation in the tank.

Of course, the company was also a pioneer in offering BioHeat, a renewable-based alternative to standard heating oil. Grown on American farms, generally from vegetable oil-based products, thereby reducing dependency on foreign oil, BioHeat can be incorporated into a home or office without any upgrades or modifications to a heating system. The veggie-based oil burns significantly cleaner than oil, as well.

“I’ve always felt that if a product came along that was as good, or better, than the traditional choice, was better for the environment and could be produced in a responsible way, I would be hypocritical not to embrace it,” Jim Proulx said. “That was my feeling when biofuels began to make headway in replacing traditional heating oil. I get that same feeling now that we are developing propane as motor fuel, which we call AutoGas.”

At 70 percent cleaner than standard gasoline, AutoGas allows all manner of vehicles to improve their performance while also reducing emissions. By utilizing the PRINS conversion system, the No. 1 conversion system used worldwide, the converted vehicle can run on either propane or gasoline, switching seamlessly from one to the other “on the fly” if the vehicle should run out of propane. The vehicle will operate on gasoline until the driver returns to a fueling site.

Proulx Oil & Propane’s own expansive fleet has already become some of the first converts, having transitioned 90 percent of the company’s service vehicles by the end of 2014. And while Jim Proulx — who runs his personal vehicle on propane — says it will take some time before the technology is made readily available to the wider public, he says it won’t be long before the impact of green-shifting businesses makes that possibility a reality.

Indeed, Jim Proulx isn’t merely touting the technology’s bona fides; he’s also spearheading its implementation, offering the service — the conversion as well as the fuel — at the company’s Newmarket NH headquarters, and installing a standalone fueling station for a single municipal bus at SAU 46 in Penacook, N.H. Other consumers converting vehicles with Proulx include Keystone Automotive, The Provider Bus Company, Riverwoods of Exeter, and Piscataqua Landscaping, which is also converting lawn mowers as part of its efforts to green its fleet.

Proulx Oil & Propane’s residential and business hardware conversions include everything from high-efficiency 93 percent heating systems, higher efficiency oil burning equipment, and the aforementioned on-demand water heaters. They are far more efficient compared to the older-technology standby-ready water heaters that fire intermittently.

Proulx Oil & Propane also is committed to broadening its efforts to reduce the company’s carbon footprint. Such efforts range from a full-fledged recycling program to comprehensive lighting overhauls to an increased emphasis on electronic billing.

“Saving paper by moving our business to more electronic transactions is market driven but also just makes sense when you see the amount of paper waste even a small company like ours can generate,” Jim Proulx said. “Having a background in power generation, and knowing the amount of energy it takes to create the energy we use daily in our buildings, I think it makes it easy to choose energy-efficient equipment and business practices.”

Both Proulx Oil & Propane and Proulx AutoGas are green-certified with the Green Alliance, a union of local sustainable businesses promoting environmentally sound business practices and a green co-op offering discounted green products and services to its members.

“I like helping people solve their energy concerns by providing different eco-friendly options to Seacoast consumers,” Jim Proulx said, summarizing his role in the community. “We are doing our part to make a difference in the local energy industry, and I’m proud of that.”

For more info on Proulx, visit www.proulxoilandpropane.com and www.proulxautogas.com.

To learn more about the Green Alliance, go to www.greenalliance.biz