1. Welcome Hearth.com Guests and Visitors - Please enjoy our forums!
    Hearth.com GOLD Sponsors who help bring the site content to you:
    Hearthstone Soapstone and Cast-Iron stoves( Wood, Gas or Pellet Stoves and Inserts)

What incentive to use "less" propane

Post in 'It's a Gas!' started by danfrmmaine, Sep 10, 2008.

Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.
  1. danfrmmaine

    danfrmmaine New Member

    Joined:
    Sep 10, 2008
    Messages:
    12
    Loc:
    ME
    Our propane price is based on usage. If I have gutted, rewindowed, reinsulated, added passive solar etc etc to our old farmhouse all to reduce my petroleum usage to stay warm in Maine how come I have to pay HIGHER prices because I use less. This is driving me nuts and want to hear about other peoples ideas on this subject. I know the State is encouraging energy conservation through better insulation and building techniques. How come there is no dollar incentive to do so. Our per gallon price for LP now is $4.40. We use the gas for Hot water and cooking. If I use some of that gas to run a rinnai for back up heat we get destroyed on our bill.
    Thanks
    Dan in Maine

    Helpful Sponsor Ads!





  2. aussieblake

    aussieblake New Member

    Joined:
    Mar 4, 2008
    Messages:
    91
    Loc:
    Tornado Alley
    I guess the concept of being charged for propane based on usage is new to me. My house uses propane for the central heating unit and the water heater. Early this year with the price of propane being a dollar a gallon higher that when I bought it last year we decided to install a wood stove. Since then I have noticed the price of propane was the same in July as it was in February (not sure why, but who am I to argue). We buy propane at the current selling price (from our dealer, kind of like gas stations each dealer can be different and you can shop around if you own your tank) whether we need 5 gallons or 300 gallons, granted they charge a delivery fee for anything less than 150 gallons so typically that is our minimum.

    I see propane pretty much like gasoline, you buy what you need when you need it at the current market price.

    aussieblake
  3. danfrmmaine

    danfrmmaine New Member

    Joined:
    Sep 10, 2008
    Messages:
    12
    Loc:
    ME
    Would love to Aussie, I just can't stomach the different prices. I want to pay the same for propane as people who use Alot of propane.
    Thanks
  4. AndrewChurchill

    AndrewChurchill Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Mar 31, 2008
    Messages:
    628
    Loc:
    Vermont
    In my neck of the woods all the propane companies do the same thing. If you only cook and heat hot water you pay a higher price, but if you heat you get a better deal. Think of it this way. If you go to the store and buy one 12oz can of soda you pay $1.25, but you can buy a 2 liter bottle of soda for roughly the same price.

    Why, because it costs more to make 3 individual aluminum cans as opposed to 1 1 liter plastic bottle. It's the same for the propane people because they still incur the same costs of getting a man and his equipment out to your house for 50 gallons as they do for 500 gallons and the difference in time it takes them to fill the two different size tanks is negligible for the overall process.

    If you want a cheap price buy a 500 gallon tank and only have it filled every two or three years.
  5. danfrmmaine

    danfrmmaine New Member

    Joined:
    Sep 10, 2008
    Messages:
    12
    Loc:
    ME
  6. ashburner

    ashburner New Member

    Joined:
    Sep 7, 2008
    Messages:
    28
    Loc:
    Howell, Michigan

    Same thing going on in Michigan, at least with my profane company anyway (spelling error on purpose). Contract price for this winter is $2.49. Without the contract it's $3.59. I asked what happens if I go to a wood stove and drastically reduce the amount of propane I use even after signing the contract. The woman at the company told me, first of all, if she could do that (go to wood) she would. Then she said it would not affect my rate for the this coming 08-09 winter season and they don't make you buy all the LP on the contract, but if my usage falls considerably, then my per gallon rate will go up the following winter.

    Doesn't make sense to me either. They always fill about 300-350 gallons per visit, the idea would be that they would only make one or two fill visits instead of 5-6, so why does this have to cost me more?

    Its like if someone were to drive their car less than X miles per week/month/year they would be charged more per gallon of gasoline... WTF... this sounds like blackmail to me. :grrr: It's also why I'm looking to add wood heat as the primary fuel source!
  7. heaterman

    heaterman Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Oct 16, 2007
    Messages:
    3,110
    Loc:
    Falmouth, Michigan
    Lot's of LP delivery companies in lot's of states do the same thing. For them, purely from a business perspective, it's all about economies of scale.
    A friend of mine in Missouri said his utility company is doing the same thing with natural gas. Assessing a low use "surcharge" for consumers that use less than a specified amount. Their theory is that it takes X number of dollars to maintain the infrastructure needed to produce, store & transport the gas as well as pay the overhead for all the company employees and machinery. If consumption drops below a certain level that doesn't meet overhead expenses, the utility goes bankrupt like any other business would. Their only answer is to try and spread expenses among all their customers, in effect giving a volume discount to the high consumption users.

    I know it doesn't seem right or fair at all that you get penalized for trying to be efficient but those are the facts of business and meeting payrolls.
    The best solution is to go to an alternate fuel source that you can control at least somewhat and tell the beggars to shove off. :) A philosophy that more and more are embracing each day.
  8. MishMouse

    MishMouse Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Jan 18, 2008
    Messages:
    782
    Loc:
    Verndale, MN
    $4.40 a gallon, sounds like something Ferrellgas did to me.
    When they came to fill the propain tank in the early summer they charged me over 4.00 a gallon.
    What I did was call around and got the current price of propane in my area with delivery charges.
    Then I called back Ferrellgas with what other companies in the area are charging. Needless to say they dropped the price by 2.00 a gallon and re-did my bill. If your gas company doesn't re-do your bill, drop them and go with another provider, they will be more then willing to take your money at a afortable price.
  9. backpack09

    backpack09 Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Sep 10, 2007
    Messages:
    554
    Loc:
    Rochester, Mass
    Well it does work the same way with oil (you just dont hear about it, and the difference is not as drastic) My old man still has a 2000 gallon in ground tank. He gets his fuel oil at a discount of 30cents off the gallon (atleast he did last year) for ordering 1000+ gallons.
  10. mtaccone

    mtaccone New Member

    Joined:
    Jan 18, 2008
    Messages:
    101
    Loc:
    schenectady, NY
    Yet another reason for me to use oil to heat my garage this winter The propane option had way too many variances in price. (wood is impossible since I cant be there to stoke a fire 24/7.)
  11. danfrmmaine

    danfrmmaine New Member

    Joined:
    Sep 10, 2008
    Messages:
    12
    Loc:
    ME
    Thanks to all. A very interesting blend of answers. For sure. Yes the economics of buying more for a lower price makes sense. But if you drink that 2 L bottle of soda instead of the 12 oz WHO gets fatter. The consumer does (and IS) and the producer does too. Use more more more and more. I'm not too worried about the fuel companies making ends meet. They simply adjust their prices to satisfy their bottom line. How would you like to have a job without "review!". Quality of workmanship or job done right would not matter. Sounds nice to me. But the bottom line for me is we CANNOT continue to use more petroleum. And there is a Break between state and federal incentives to become fuel efficient and the incentives of the fuel companies. And for the record, my fuel company here "Maritime Energy" has told me I need to use over 400 gallons of propane per year to get the lower rate of $3.14 per gallon. Compared to the $4.40 I have to pay now that is a huge difference. AND It does not matter about my tank size or how many times they have to come and fill I MUST USE more to get a lower price. I've taken an old Farmhouse and made her Very Energy Efficient. We've been heating for 5 years with wood only. And I cut my own too. Lots of work and I would like the option of adding a little propane for backup.

    Dan
  12. potter

    potter Feeling the Heat

    Joined:
    Aug 8, 2008
    Messages:
    308
    Loc:
    western NY
    I'm in a similar pickle. Long term as suggested above buying your own tank seems the only way to have any power. Would love to have geothermal as back up, at least the electricity has some regulation. But up front costs so high......
    So just trying to move as much as possible to wood and tell them where to put they're propane!

    their propane.

    Have you ever checked the price per gallon at hardware stores (exchange tanks)? At the prices your quoting I wonder....
  13. Adios Pantalones

    Adios Pantalones Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    May 20, 2008
    Messages:
    6,446
    Loc:
    S.NH- Mass's smoking section
    If they come to fill it up, and its a small amount- they would lose money driving out there if there weren't some surcharge or higher rate. If they can get you into an agreement on usage, then they can better manage their stocks. Imagine trying to figure out how much to buy at what price -buy too much and your prices may remain too high when the demand drops. Buy too little and you will have to get more at a much higher rate at peak season! These are often owned by some family business that is deciding on a $50K investment in fuel.

    My oil delivery co. just went out of business. Fuel people are getting slaughtered. Gas stations in many places make nothing or LOSE money on gas- the service and quicky mart is their income. I'm not talking about BP and Exxon- I'm talking about the little guy that owns the franchise or the delivery truck.
  14. JBinKC

    JBinKC Feeling the Heat

    Joined:
    Jan 14, 2006
    Messages:
    277
    Loc:
    Lake of the Ozarks
    A) get a larger tank or B) switch to an electric water heater and range.

    I know where you are coming from though all of the propane dealers in my locale haven't honored summer contract prices since the 2005-6 heating season.
  15. mtaccone

    mtaccone New Member

    Joined:
    Jan 18, 2008
    Messages:
    101
    Loc:
    schenectady, NY
    Current prices I got today on propane ranged from &2;.49 to $3.99 why the huge difference?
  16. skinnykid

    skinnykid New Member

    Joined:
    May 6, 2008
    Messages:
    655
    Loc:
    Next to a lake in NH
    I just switched companies from Eastern to Amerigas. 90% of why I am switching is because Eastern has been NOTHING but PROBLEMS for me. Between billing issues, over charging, poor customer service etc.
    The other 10% is because of price.
    I locked in on the budget program at $2.94. I am budgeting 500 gallons from now to end of "heating season" I use propane for hotwater, cooking and back-up heating.
    When I budgeted they tried telling me that I will need much more for a 1500 sq foot house. I told them I will heat with wood mostly and then they tried saying well but...............
    I said 500 gallons is it.
    I noticed on my first bill it had a note "heats with wood" I assume (hope) it is just there in case the SHTF they will fill others first since we won't freeze. Or maybe they will come steal my wood (hhahahaha)

    My tanks are coming tuesday morning, Eastern will have a shock when then come to fill and find their tanks sitting in the woods! I tried making it right with them over and over but they just can't seem to get things right!!!
  17. mtaccone

    mtaccone New Member

    Joined:
    Jan 18, 2008
    Messages:
    101
    Loc:
    schenectady, NY
    I hear alot of bad news on these propane companies it seems. Here I have heard nothing good about amerigas or suburban what gives with the crappy cust. service and the hidden charges?
  18. skinnykid

    skinnykid New Member

    Joined:
    May 6, 2008
    Messages:
    655
    Loc:
    Next to a lake in NH
    It is a long story about Eastern. I just hope Amerigas is better with the customer service.
  19. potter

    potter Feeling the Heat

    Joined:
    Aug 8, 2008
    Messages:
    308
    Loc:
    western NY
    I agree with AP above. I have Suburban which I can say nothing good about- predatory would be the word that comes to mind.
    Been trying to switch, but theres always too much in tanks or some other problem... trying to move to a smaller local company.
  20. Adios Pantalones

    Adios Pantalones Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    May 20, 2008
    Messages:
    6,446
    Loc:
    S.NH- Mass's smoking section
    Skinny- I'm with Amerigas for my propane burner stove. They've been good for the 6 years I've had 'em.
  21. skinnykid

    skinnykid New Member

    Joined:
    May 6, 2008
    Messages:
    655
    Loc:
    Next to a lake in NH
    Good to hear! They are coming to drop tanks at my house tuesday morning. They are the cheapest around and My folks have them and like their service. Plus they are right at exit 5 if I ever need to drop off a payment or need service.

    I tell you, Eastern really pi$$ed me off! I couldn't wait to switch!

    Goodbye Pants: Are you FROM londonderry or just live there now?
  22. Adios Pantalones

    Adios Pantalones Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    May 20, 2008
    Messages:
    6,446
    Loc:
    S.NH- Mass's smoking section
    I'm from Burlington, MA originally. I've been in Londonderry since winter '02.
  23. Mandoo

    Mandoo Member

    Joined:
    Jan 8, 2008
    Messages:
    102
    Loc:
    Mid-Ohio
    One issue with the propane industry (at least in Ohio) they are not regulated by the Public Utilities Commission the delivery equipment is but not the gas pricing, tanks or regulation. The other utilities are and just can't charge "at will" pricing.

    Like it's been said you have to shop and treat it like buying a used car and get your rate and honor times documented. I just received 200 gallons today still locked in at $1.89 from last year. My new contract is set at $2.65 until summer. I don't use very much do to the wood burning and efficient house, most of the 200gal came from my work shop.

    Back to the Topic, In our case the small amount used seems to make no difference and it becomes a challenge to keep the percentage gauge from dropping.
  24. mbcijim

    mbcijim Member

    Joined:
    Mar 10, 2008
    Messages:
    419
    Loc:
    Schuylkill County, Pa
    I think you guys are missing an obvious point here. It's not the quantity you use, it's the quantity you order.
    The solution, IMO, is a bigger tank.

    Consider that it probably costs them $50-$75 per delivery to own the truck, drive it to your house, and employ a driver. So if you have a 500 gallon tank, that $75 is spread out to $.15/gallon. If you have a 100 gallon tank thats $.75/gallon. It cost the company $.60/gallon more to deliver to your house. Also consider if you have a bulk purchase program with that company they can say we are going to do your part of town every month. So they save a lot of time & money by delivering to one area for one day. If you call and say, please deliver to my house tomorrow, they are driving specifically to your house. That makes it even more than $.60/gallon existing cost difference. The cost for the small delivery is more time consuming and miles driven than someone on a delivery program.

    So you want to save money buy a 1000 gallon tank and fill it up only when near empty.
  25. mrmichaeljmoore

    mrmichaeljmoore Member

    Joined:
    Nov 17, 2007
    Messages:
    93
    Loc:
    CT
    Fairfield County, CT....more of the same high propane prices.

    Suburban Propane contract rates:
    250 gallons
    $4.39/gallon (pay 20% down, then balance in monthly payments
    $4.19/gallon (pay balance in full now)

    plus the annual tank rental fee of about $100.

    I hate them more than the cable company.

    Even though I put in a brand new 95% efficient Amana furnace last year, thank god for my pellet stove.
    Got 3.5 tons in the basement ready to go.
    The pellet stove is in the basement. I only use the propane furnace to take the chill out of the main living floor. Then when the stove gets hot, it can generally keep the upstairs at temp. I dont run the stove 24/7. No one is home during the day, so I just fire the stove up when I get home after work and within a couple hours the whole house is warm and toasty.

    Thank god I have a small ranch and not one of those monster Mcmansions.


    Some people have mentioned getting my own tanks so I can use whatever company I want.
    Currently, Suburban has two 100 gallon tanks at my house.....
    Who would I contact to purchase and install my own tanks?? Any idea how much that would cost?
Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.

Share This Page