Now Is the Time to Plan Your Supply
We all know that propane prices have their ups and downs. This is all normal and influenced by many factors, including supply and demand, the weather, geopolitics and Wall Street investors, to name a few.
Unfortunately, we’re in a temporary “up” cycle now.
What’s Going On?
Propane prices have been increasing since summer because of high international demand and lower global propane supply. In the U.S., propane inventories were projected to be at their lowest level to start the heating season since 2013, according to U.S. Energy Information Administration. The heating season began on October 1.
Recently, wholesale propane prices hit their highest weekly average levels since February 2014. But that’s only part of the story. All energy sources have been going up, from heating oil to natural gas to electricity. And you’ve already seen the price of gasoline every time you fill up your car with gas.
Besides rising energy prices, we’re also seeing price increases in many other products. A big problem has been the COVID-19 pandemic, which has caused enormous supply-chain challenges. This is limiting supply even as the demand for goods keeps rising.
What Iowa Propane Companies Are Doing
People sometimes misunderstand how negatively higher prices can impact local fuel dealers. They don’t make more money when prices rise like this—they actually make less.
Think of it this way: it’s like when the cost of coffee, milk or orange juice rises. It’s not the local grocery store that is profiting. (That’s left to the Wall Street investors).
Propane customers have a harder time paying their bills. They reduce expenditures. Propane suppliers may need to tap into their lines of credit more. Phones light up with questions from propane customers. So the sooner energy prices drop, the happier your propane company will be.
In the meantime, please reach out your propane supplier about ways they may be able to help you reduce your energy costs, or handle payments more easily. And if you are worried about keeping up with your propane costs, please pick up the phone and call them. They can generally work with you if you reach out before you fall behind.
Planning Your Supply
In our last post, we encouraged you to arrange for a delivery in early fall so you can start the heating season with a full propane tank. If you take advantage of programs such as early fill-ups, automatic deliveries and prebuy, obtaining propane whenever you need it is fairly easy. But for propane suppliers, planning can be more complex and that process often begins long before deliveries even reach customers.
Predicting the volume of fuel that each customer needs represents a key component in a refined supply plan that includes storing away a sufficient amount of fuel. Propane customers can help in this process by contacting their dealer before the winter heating season arrives to plan for their anticipated propane needs during the coldest months.
Throughout the year, your propane dealer is committed to supplying you with reliable propane deliveries. If you have any questions or need to discuss your propane supply, please get in touch with your local propane dealer.
Keep in mind that almost all the propane used in the U.S. is produced domestically, meaning every gallon you buy contributes to the independence of America’s energy needs. Having a propane tank on your property gives you the ability to store a sufficient supply that’s always ready for immediate use, eliminating any dependence on an underground gas pipeline—just one more reason to feel good about using propane.
Read more about propane here.
High Demand Later Could Drive Prices Up
We all know that a lot of cold days and nights lie ahead for us in the Hawkeye State. With that in mind, early fall is the perfect time to schedule your propane delivery so you can start the heating season off right with a full tank.
Here are four reasons why this is a smart idea.
- Demand drives up propane prices and that demand is usually highest when temperatures drop. Propane prices can also rise in the summer months, when people hit the road with their campers and RVs. Early fall squeezes between these periods of peak demand – meaning it’s often the best time to save money on your propane tank fill-ups.
- Although sudden cold snaps can happen in the early fall, these aren’t as common or as severe as the drops that can happen in late autumn and early winter – which means that odds are, there won’t be a sudden big rush on local propane supplies (and the rising prices that come with it).
- Your family will be prepared for any weather. A sudden change in weather can pinch propane supplies quickly, leading to possible delivery delays and occasionally no-heat emergencies as people scramble to fill their tanks. Schedule your propane tank refill in the early fall and you’ll enjoy the peace of mind knowing that your family will be safe and comfortable in any weather.
- You can enjoy all your home comforts. Whether you like to cook on your propane grill, cozy up to your propane fireplace, soak in your propane-powered hot tub, or lounge on your porch warmed by your propane patio heater, you’ll need to fill up on propane to enjoy the comforts of home in the months to come.
Securing Propane Supply
Getting propane delivered to your tank whenever you need it may seem fairly easy. But for propane suppliers, planning is more complex, and the process often begins a year before deliveries even reach customers.
Knowing the volume of fuel that each customer will need represents a key component in creating a supply plan, which includes storing away enough fuel. Customers can help out by contacting their propane dealer before winter arrives to discuss their anticipated propane needs.
Your propane dealer is committed to supplying you with reliable propane deliveries throughout the year. If you have questions or want to discuss your propane supply, please get in touch with your local propane dealer.
So, remember, early fall is a great time to fill your propane tank!
Are you tired of setting up and maintaining a wood-burning fireplace? Is your wood-burning fireplace unused because you’re not sure it’s safe to light a fire inside it anymore? Would you like the warm glow of a fire in the fireplace without the work, the wait, and the worry?
Here’s a solution that will make you feel better. Convert your old wood-burning fireplace to a new, safe and efficient propane gas burning fireplace! If you get started now, you’ll be enjoying your new propane fireplace before the leaves start turning and the holiday season hustle and bustle begins.
One of the answers you may want to know right up front is this: how much propane does a propane fireplace use? It’s fairly easy to judge. On average, a propane fireplace uses about one gallon of propane per 100,000 BTU. So if your propane fireplace is rated 50,000 BTU, you will use about one gallon of propane every two hours your fireplace is on.
When you think about all of the expense and work of operating and maintaining your wood-burning fireplace, you’ll probably warm up to the idea of switching to a propane fireplace pretty quickly.
Propane Hearths: More Than Good Looks
Today’s propane hearths bring you the warmth, the glow and the comfort of a wood fireplace without most of the drawbacks, and with some benefits, you just can’t get from a wood fireplace.
You can get propane hearths as built-in fireplaces, freestanding stoves, and sealed fireplace inserts that are installed right in your existing mantle. Whether or not you have a fireplace, you can enjoy all the benefits of a propane hearth. Here are some more advantages:
Convenience: The comfort of a fireplace is at your fingertips whenever you want it with a propane fireplace. Most of today’s propane fireplaces feature thermostats, allowing you to control the flame and the heat from the comfort of your couch.
Health impact: Wood smoke may smell good, but we don’t recommend breathing it in. Wood smoke contains fine particles, also known as fine particulate matter. These microscopic particles can cause respiratory problems and other health problems. With propane, you avoid those risks.
Environmental impact: Burning wood creates around 28 pounds of smog-producing particulate emissions (soot and ash) per MMBTUs of heat output. Propane, on the other hand, produces less than one percent of that. Using propane greatly reduces your Iowa home’s carbon footprint.
Efficiency: Propane fireplaces burn at about 80 percent efficiency, about four to five times more efficient than a wood fireplace.
Versatility: While you may enjoy the warm glow of a propane fireplace, it’s also a terrific heat source during a power outage. Even if the power’s on, the heat from a propane fireplace may let you turn down your thermostat a few degrees.
What’s Trending in Propane Fireplace Inserts?
Propane fireplace inserts give you the best of both worlds: the convenience and efficiency of propane framed by an attractive existing masonry fireplace. You also get:
More realistic flames: Today’s improved gas burner technology means a warm glow, and flickering and dancing flames, just like a wood fire.
Adjustable heat: Whether the winter winds are blowing and you need a roaring fire, or you just need to take the edge off a cool early spring or autumn day, the multi-stage temperature controls can give you just the right amount of heat.
Smarter fireplace inserts: You can use the thermostat to program your propane fireplace to turn on and off at specific times, and program temperature settings for any time of the day or night.
High-efficiency backup heat: Do you feel the need to supplement your home’s heating system? Today’s propane fireplace inserts can keep you much cozier than a wood fire. You may be surprised to learn that as much as 90% of the heat produced by a wood-burning fireplace goes straight up the chimney. Did you ever notice how cold a room becomes when a wood fire begins to burn out? It’s because all the heat in the room is being drawn out the chimney!
More variety in sizes: Some masonry fireplaces have openings that are too narrow or shallow to fit a standard-sized propane fireplace insert. Smaller inserts are becoming more common, meaning more people can get the benefits of a propane fireplace.
Fireplace inserts with blowers: If you have a big space to heat, like an open-concept living room-dining room-kitchen space, you can get a propane fireplace insert with multi-speed blowers that push warm air to the far corners of a room, creating more even and comfortable heating.
Masonry fireplace refinishing: You can update your existing masonry fireplace to fit your style, from sleek contemporary to modern farmhouse.
How To Light a Propane Fireplace
One of the biggest advantages for propane fireplaces and hearths is that there’s no work involved in getting a fire going. Just click the remote control or flip a switch and voilà. Look, you have made fire! (Proudly pounding on your chest for this accomplishment is strictly optional and can be cast away).
But seriously, there may be situations no fire appears at the click of a switch. This problem often occurs due to a lack of maintenance of the propane fireplace or hearth. Try these troubleshooting tips.
- Check the main valve to make sure that the gas is turned on.
- If the gas is on and the pilot has not been lit for many months, purge the air out of the pilot tubing by holding down the pilot button for about two minutes to let the air bleed out.
- If gas is coming out of the pilot but it still won’t light, use a can of compressed air (which is often used to clear dust and crumbs from computer keyboards) to clear out any gunk between the igniter and the thermocouple. If that doesn’t work, you may have a bad thermocouple. At this point, you should call in a propane professional to handle the repairs.
Please note that some of today’s newer propane fireplaces rely on electronic ignition rather than standing pilot lights. While they’re great for efficiency and eliminate the costs of having the pilot light running all of the time, they are not to be self-repaired. You need to leave that job to a propane professional.
Want to learn more about propane fireplaces and propane hearths? Contact your local Iowa propane provider today!
If your home has an electric water heater instead of a propane water heater, you’re probably paying more than you should, and you may be having issues with running out of hot water. This is a common problem for large families. Who enjoys a nice hot shower that suddenly turns ice cold?
Here are some reasons why you should consider upgrading your water heater to a propane water heating unit.
Why Upgrade Your Water Heater?
Propane provides more heating power per dollar than electricity, but that’s only the beginning of the cost savings. When you factor in the lower cost to maintain propane equipment and its longer life span, a propane water heater comes out ahead, with a total ownership cost of about 30 % less than electric-powered water heating units.
Propane water heaters heat water twice as fast as electric heaters. You’ll get more hot water from a smaller sized tank, and you’ll have shorter hot water recovery times.
Convenience and Comfort
There’s little chance of running out of hot water. Propane water heaters also take up less space, have more accurate temperature adjustment and offer more size and installation options.
A Green Choice
Propane is so green that it’s approved by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as a clean alternative fuel. Using propane lowers greenhouse gas emissions compared to electric water heating options.
A propane water heater can add value to your home. A propane water heater – especially a tankless model– will improve your Home Energy Rating System (HERS) and LEED scores, which adds value to your home if you sell it.
Propane Tankless Water Heaters
Not all water heaters need to store hot water in a tank, which in the end wastes energy and costs you money. That’s where propane tankless water heaters can step up to help.
Tankless hot water heaters get your water hot as you need it. This on-demand system accesses water directly from a water pipe. This makes the process of heating water much more efficient.
Additionally, tankless units take up such a small space that you will actually be able to reclaim all that square footage your old water heater tank was taking up. Most tankless units hang on a wall and are about the size of a small suitcase and, maybe best of all, they will last about twice as long as a standard storage tank water heater.
Propane Keeps You in Hot Water
Don’t wait until your existing water heater fails to see how you can benefit from a high-efficiency propane water heater. If you’re ready to replace your water heater, please contact your propane company about your options. You may even qualify for a rebate when you install a new propane water heater.
Want to learn more now about which type of propane water heater may be best for your home? Go here to take our interactive quiz.
If you have a backyard pool or spa and don’t use a propane pool heater, it’s time to shake the outdoor shivers and enjoy your swimming pool earlier—and later–in the year. When you have a propane pool heater at your Iowa home, you can always say: “come on in, the water’s fine!”
A propane pool heater simply burns gas to warm water from the pool pump then cycles the water back into the pool. That’s why propane pool heaters are an ideal choice for in-ground and aboveground pools as well as outdoor spas. Propane pool heaters are:
- easy to install and maintain
- durable and reliable
- available in a number of sizes and colors
Propane Pool Heaters Vs. Other Pool Heater Options
Propane pool heaters have distinct advantages over other pool heater types, including:
- Electric heat pump heaters – While this system is a more cost-effective than using a simple electric element pool heater, it needs to use surrounding air to warm water in the pool – which means it can only produce water that’s slightly warmer than the temperature of the air. That’s a problem if you feel like a swim when there’s a chill in the air.
- Solar pool heaters –These have higher upfront costs and take longer to heat your pool compared to a propane pool heater. A solar system also doesn’t work at night or on cloudy days when the sun isn’t at its brightest. Of course, these heaters can only heat the pool when the sun is shining.
- Natural gas pool heaters – If you have natural gas service in your neighborhood, keep in mind that propane pool heaters give you the same performance of natural gas heaters without the expensive hardware and hassle needed to connect the pool heater to your home’s gas line.
To learn more about propane pool heaters and the many other ways you can take full advantage of propane inside and outside your home, please contact your Iowa propane service provider and they’ll be glad to give you advice.
Read more about outdoor living with propane.
Did you know that May is National Barbecue Month? Of course, the way to celebrate is to go out to your backyard and do some fun outdoor cooking on your propane grill. To whet your appetite, here are tasty grilling recipes from the Iowa Beef Industry Council from beef kabobs to balsamic marinated flank steak to zesty barbecue cheeseburgers and much more.
If you’re planning to show off your cooking skills during the Memorial Day weekend at the end of the month, you’ll want to know about the secrets of cooking like a professional chef on your propane grill.
First, today’s propane grills are renowned for providing precise temperature and heat control, which is a major reason so many Iowans love using them.
Simply by turning the dial, you can instantly adjust the grill to give off more or less heat. If you’re grilling a variety of dishes, whether it’s a quick weeknight supper for a backyard barbecue party, that control gives you the power to cook everything to perfection. Propane Can Do That—charcoal can’t!
You have the choice of using different temperature modes or heat zones when you’re using a propane grill. Turn the dial to high heat on one side and low heat on the other, and that allows you to sear on the hot side and transfer it to the cooler side to finish cooking.
Direct Heat And Indirect Heat With A Propane Grill
Being able to use direct heat or indirect heat, or both at the same time, is another reason why propane grills are so versatile and popular.
Direct heat cooks food hot and fast. It’s great for searing meats, or grilling thin cuts of meat and quick-cooking foods like vegetables. Indirect heat is how you grill barbecued chicken and pork shoulder. You can even use indirect heat to bake bread. To grill with indirect heat, simply turn off the burners directly under where you want the food to cook, keep the other burners on, and close the grill lid.
But keep in mind that indirect heat takes longer, so be patient. But that patience will pay off when you hear the praise you get from family and friends for the food you have prepared for them!
Grilling Meat Safely
Here are a few tips to help you keep your grilled meat as safe as can be:
- Trim excess fat before cooking to prevent flare-ups
- Use rosemary in your marinade, as studies have shown this can significantly reduce toxins. Garlic, lemon juice and onion are other recommended marinade ingredients.
- Make sure the meat is cooked to a safe temperature by using an instant-read thermometer. It also prevents you from over-cooking those gorgeous pork chops.
- Don’t put your cooked meats on the same platter you used for the meat when it was raw. Use a clean platter to prevent the spread of bacteria.
Searing On A Propane Grill
If you’ve ever marveled over the beautiful crust that steakhouses get on their meats, you can do it at home on your propane grill. It’s all about searing, whether it’s beef, lamb or pork. Here’s how to do it.
- Take the meat out of the fridge 20 to 30 minutes before grilling.
- Pat the surface of the meat dry with paper towels before seasoning; et meat steams instead of sears. If you’ve marinated the meat, use paper towels to blot off excess marinade.
- Turn your propane grill on and set it to high.
- Wait about 10 to 15 minutes until the grill is hot before putting the meat on. Go here to read more about this.
- Once the meat is on the grill, leave it alone for at least one minute before turning it, at least two minutes if you have a thicker cut. After turning the meat, reduce the heat.
- Use an instant-read thermometer to make sure your meat is grilled to the safe and desired doneness.
Propane Grill Maintenance And Safety
Your propane grill will work better for a longer time if you take care of it with regular maintenance. If you use your grill often, you have to be diligent about keeping it as clean as possible and inspect it regularly for any potential problems that could put a damper on your next barbecue.
Read more about propane grill safety.
Now that spring has bloomed, have you looked outside to your backyard yet and thought about propane? Are you familiar with all the of ways propane can enhance outdoor living right here in Iowa? Here are some ideas to add more fun to your spring and summer.
There are many reasons why propane grills are overwhelmingly the most commonly owned grills in America.
Nothing beats the clean-burning precision of a propane gas grill. Whether you cook on a simple portable or a high-tech built-in model, you’ll get the same even-cooking performance time after time, with no starter fluid smell, dangerous chemicals, or mess.
When your cookout is done, propane gives you even more advantages. Instead of having to wait an hour or more for coal embers to cool, you can simply turn off the grill, shut off the propane, and clean the grate. It doesn’t get much easier than that!
There’s nothing like gathering with family and friends around a fire pit on a cool night. Whether the kids are toasting marshmallows for s’mores, or you’re relaxing over a glass of wine with friends, propane makes the night more enjoyable. Propane gives you real fire and real heat with just the flip of a switch. No need to lug firewood, or wait for it to ignite. And, when you’re ready to go inside, just turn off your fire pit and that’s that. Many fire pit models have ignition systems that can be turned on and off with a smartphone.
Gas was the main source for both indoor and outdoor lighting before electricity became widely available and accepted. Today, you can get that warm glow for your patio and pathways with propane. In most cases, it’s cheaper than electricity. And it works even when the power is out. Propane-powered outdoor lights can burn for just pennies per hour, and they can be matched with almost any outdoor décor.
With freestanding or wall-mounted models available, you’re sure to find a propane patio heater that meets your needs and budget – and one that will work even if the power goes out. You can enjoy a swim throughout the season—and even beyond– by investing in a propane pool heater, which will heat your pool water quickly and efficiently – and far more effectively than an electric model.
Read more about propane and outdoor living.
Did you ever stop to wonder why the propane gas flame you see on your cooktop is the color blue? That’s a good thing because it means all is well as far as combustion goes.
When the ratio of fuel to air is correct, there is enough oxygen for the complete combustion of propane. Complete combustion and a blue flame mean that your propane is burning at its full heat, so you aren’t wasting any expended energy.
What Yellow Or Orange Flames Mean
Orange or yellow propane gas flames mean that the propane is not being completely burned. When these color flames occur on the burners of a propane cooktop, the cause is usually related to a burner being out of adjustment or blockages in the air inlet, such as from small, burnt food particles.
This results in decreased fuel efficiency. Check out the difference in temperatures. In complete combustion with a blue-colored flame, the temperature of a propane flame is 3,596° F.
However, with a yellow or orange flame, the flame’s temperature decreases to 1,832° F. With only half the heat energy now at your disposal, you’ll probably notice difficulties caused by uneven temperature when cooking. For example, you likely won’t be able to achieve even browning or searing when cooking a meal.
This same inefficiency will result in higher energy bills if a yellow or orange flame is present in your home’s heating or water heating system. Who wants to wash clothes, cook, bathe, clean or heat your home using only half of propane’s power?
Even more importantly, yellow or orange flames can pose a safety risk. The incomplete combustion that causes these off-color flames can lead to a carbon monoxide buildup in your home.
So, if you are seeing yellow or orange flames, or notice a build-up of soot or carbon around your burners, contact your propane service contractor as soon as possible and get the problem corrected.
Please read more propane safety tips.
The weather forecasters were right! The polar vortex—a bone-chilling Arctic air mass that increases the chance of snow—has now made its presence felt in Iowa.
The polar vortex is so named because of a counter-clockwise spin of Arctic air that occurs around the North Pole. This always exists, but sometimes, a jet stream of air that usually keeps the polar vortex in its place weakens. This causes an air mass to split and move super-frigid cold air south—that means to us! Talk about getting a feel for the North Pole!
Propane Readiness For Winter Weather
Your propane company’s priority is to always keep you safe and comfortable, so here are some tips to help you remain secure as you hunker down in your propane home until the spring thaw.
Avoid Running Out Of Fuel
As a general rule, you should schedule your next delivery when your tank gauge reads 30%. You can make the rest of winter a lot easier on yourself by asking your propane company if they offer automatic delivery service. If they do and you qualify, they’ll schedule your deliveries automatically based on your usage patterns and the daily temperatures. Read about your delivery options.
Clear The Way To Your Tank
After a snowstorm, please dig out a path to your storage tank so your propane delivery driver can reach it quickly and safely. If your propane company’s trucks must use your driveway to reach your tank, please make sure the driveway is plowed wide enough to accommodate the delivery truck, especially around any turns. If your driveway is on a hill, it’s very important to make sure it is clear of ice and snow.
Check Your Carbon Monoxide (CO) Detectors
Your home should have at least one CO detector on each level—and there should be one outside every bedroom. Once a month, test them, and replace the batteries if necessary. Every five years, replace your CO detectors.
Test Your Propane Generator
Once a month, run your propane generator for about 20 minutes to keep all of the moving parts lubricated. Check to ensure that you have enough fuel to last at least a week. Don’t wait until a power outage to find out your generator is low on propane.
Use Propane Gas Appliances Safely
Never use any outdoor propane appliances—including propane grills—in an enclosed space or inside your home. (This includes garages and sunporches.) DO NOT use your propane-fueled stove for heating or for any reason other than its intended purpose.
Read more about propane safety.
There are many ways propane energy is a benefit to our environment– in our homes, in our communities and in our businesses. Let’s take a look at how propane compares to electricity in terms of environmental impact.
For starters, propane emits less than half the greenhouse gas emissions of electricity while producing the same amount of energy. That’s because more than 40% of the electricity used in our country is produced by coal-fired power plants. These power plants are among the largest sources of greenhouse gas pollution in the United States.
It takes three units of source energy to get one unit of electricity into your home. That means more coal has to be burned, generating even more carbon emissions, to get electricity to our homes.
Propane is much more efficient than electricity when you look at the total energy consumed, including the energy consumed in the production, processing, extraction and transportation of the fuel to the point of use. Propane is 87% efficient and electricity is 32% efficient, based on this analysis.
Propane generates more Btu’s than an equivalent amount of electricity, so you need much less propane to produce the same amount of heat energy. Also, clean-burning propane appliances are efficient, because they waste very little fuel in the combustion process, unlike electric-powered appliances. That’s why, hands down, propane is better for the environment and for your home.
Also, with a high-efficiency clean-burning propane furnace, less than 10% of fuel is wasted in the combustion process, while more than two-thirds of the energy used by a power plant to transmit and generate electricity is wasted.
Propane also has a lower carbon content than gasoline, diesel, fuel oil, kerosene and ethanol, which is a big part of the reason it was added as a clean fuel to the Clean Air Act in 1990.
Propane As A Motor Fuel
Instead of filling your vehicle’s tank with gasoline, there may come a day when you’ll “fill ‘er up” with propane autogas.
Autogas is already powering buses, police cars, street cleaners and other vehicles in cities worldwide. Many businesses are also using propane to fuel their vehicles.
Propane’s lesser environmental impact is what makes this fuel a leading alternative for vehicles of all kinds. Since propane has a lower carbon content than petroleum products, it creates fewer toxic emissions and burns cleaner. Some estimates show that converting a vehicle to propane autogas can reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 90%.Your vehicle’s engine could even last longer with propane.
The Future: Renewable Propane
The success story of propane and the environment doesn’t end here. Renewable propane represents the next step towards a zero-carbon emissions future.
Renewable propane is molecularly identical to propane. But it is made with renewable resources such as animal oils, plant oils, biomass, and other triglycerides.
As the renewable propane sector grows, more Iowans will be able to use it to lower their carbon footprint even further.
Find out more about renewable propane.