A propane-powered home can be very energy efficient during winter. Compared to other heating options, propane generally heats homes faster with less fuel consumption. Preparing your propane tank and home for the winter can help you take advantage of the savings and fuel efficiency of propane.
1. Check Your Propane Supply
As the temperatures start to dip, keep an eye on your fuel supply levels regularly. Even if you have a half-tank of propane fuel once the leaves start to fall, the tank could be nearly empty by the beginning of winter. Keeping an eye on your fuel levels can help you avoid running out of fuel in the middle of a freezing, long weekend.
To keep your home warm and comfortable, check your fuel supply on a weekly basis. If the supply dips below the halfway point, mark your calendar for the next top-off.
2. Schedule Annual System Service
In the final weeks before inclement weather hits your area, check the functions on your heating system to make sure that everything works properly. If you haven't used the heater for six months, turn it on to see how it's running. It's wise to inspect your heating system when you don't need heat. If you wait until the temperatures start to fall, it can be more challenging to schedule maintenance service. The price might go up, too.
Scheduling an inspection of your home's heating system every year can also help you detect any small issues before they become big problems. The inspection should examine the fuel tank, furnace, heating ducts, thermostat, wiring, and various other components that distribute heat throughout your house. You can schedule an annual inspection before the cold weather starts, so that you know that your system is ready to go once the colder temperatures of fall and winter roll around.
3. Manage Your Fuel Account Online
The internet has made a lot of things easier, including managing your home's heating. You can look up current prices and order propane online, locking in the price of fuel when you place the order. You can also pay for your propane online, using a credit card.
4. Mark the Location of Your Tank
Make it easy to find an outdoor propane tank after a big snowfall by placing some tall next to it. You can drive a pole, flag or stick into the ground near your tank so that you can see its location, even when there's a lot of snow on the ground.
Marking the tank means it's less likely to be run into by a snowplow or another vehicle. It also makes it easier for a technician to find the tank when you need a refill.
5. Keep a Clear Path to the Tank
A fuel delivery truck needs easy access to your home's propane tank. Keep the area clear of bushes or shrubbery, and objects such as trash cans or play structures that might can make it difficult for a delivery person to reach the tank.
Bear in mind that most propane delivery trucks are large vehicles, roughly double the size of most cars, vans, or SUVs. If, for example, you live on a large stretch of acreage and the tank is situated far from the driveway, the path that leads to the tank should always be clear for the delivery vehicle.
6. Double-check Your Fuel Before a Storm
If meteorologists say that a rainstorm, blizzard, or subzero weather spell is on the way, double-check your tank to make sure you've got enough fuel to last for the duration of the storm and until cleanup is finished. Emergency propane delivery service isn't available in all areas and usually results in an extra fee. Don't just stock up on milk and eggs before a storm, make sure you're stocked up on propane.
7. Don't Use Outdoor Propane Tanks Inside
If your propane tank is initially situated outside, keep it there. An outdoor tank is designed for outdoor use. The difference between indoor and outdoor tanks is critical because outdoor tanks release carbon monoxide fumes that can only be safely dispersed in an open-air setting. If you are concerned about possible damage to your outdoor tank due to hail, snow and debris, place a wooden or metal enclosure around the tank with sufficient ventilation holes on both sides.
8. Install a Programmable Thermostat
Heating your home can be expensive, but there are ways to trim your costs. A programmable thermostat makes it easy for you to raise the heat when you're at home and lower it when you're away. You can set a programmable thermostat to lower the heat to 60 degrees at 10 a.m each day after you've gone to work and raise it to 68 degrees at 6 p.m. when you get home. Using a programmable thermostat means you don't have to remember to change the temperature yourself. You're more likely to see lower heating bills as a result. Shaving 10 percent off of your monthly heating costs can add up to substantial when added up over the course of the fall and winter months.
9. Use Smart Heating Apps
A programmable thermostat can be even more effective when it has remote capabilities. When you purchase a thermostat for your propane furnace, look for one with Wi-Fi capabilities. That way, you can control the thermostat from any location.
If the thermostat is located in the basement, the app will let you control the settings from the comfort of your second-floor bedroom. Likewise, you could use the app to raise or lower the settings as you commute to and from work each day. When heading home, you could raise the temperature to warm the house in advance of your arrival. If you forget to turn off the heat before you leave, you can do so from the app. A smart thermostat will eventually learn your habits as a user and make auto-adjustments according to those patterns.
10. Practice Efficient Water Heating
Using a lot of hot water can use up your propane, meaning you need to refill the tank more frequently. There are many ways that you can conserve hot water consumption in your house and reduce your heating costs. Some of the most effective methods include:
- Limit showers to 10 minutes.
- Run the dishwasher only when the racks are full.
- Wash your laundry using cold water.
Another way to reduce hot water usage is to install low-flow showerheads. Doing so will reduce the amount of water used during your shower. You can also set your water heater to a maximum of 120 degrees Fahrenheit.
11. Wear Warm Clothes
One way to stay warm indoors without cranking up the heat is to wear lots of layers. Throw on a sweater and wrap yourself up in a blanket when lounging at home. Add an extra quilt or two to your bed if you get chilly while you sleep. Dressing warmly can help you keep the temperature at home low without feeling uncomfortable.
12. Handle Your Propane Tank with Care
Propane tanks are a cost-efficient alternative to other heating options, but they need special handling for safety reasons. If you are a recent convert to propane fuel or have just purchased a new tank, keep in mind the following safety practices:
- Keep the tank secured when transporting between locations. A tank should only be transported when blocked in and secured in an open-air truck bed. Better yet, call your nearest service professional to transport the tank.
- Never leave a propane tank stored in your vehicle.
- Have your new propane tank installed by a service professional.
If propane is the fuel source for your kitchen appliances, remember to only use each appliance for its intended purpose. Even on the coldest nights, only use your propane stove to heat food and water; never use the stove to warm your kitchen.
13. Call Your Propane Supplier if the Gas Leaks
If you have any reason to suspect that gas is leaking from your propane tank, exit the area, extinguish all flames and contact your propane fuel supplier immediately. Whether it’s the smell or sight of propane drips that alarm you to the situation, you cannot act soon enough. Put out any lit candles, turn off the stove if it happens to be right next to you and clear the room. Once you reach a safe distance from the leak, contact the company that supplies you with propane fuel and inform them of the situation. If you cannot get through to a person, dial 911 instead.
Stay away from the area in question until a service technician or emergency responder has assessed the situation and determined the area to be safe. The technician must check the tank itself and the overall heating system to verify that there are no propane leaks in your house. A propane leak will typically smell like sulfur or rotten eggs. If the tank is located outside, you might notice dead plants near it or hear the sound of hissing near the gas line if there's a leak.
14. Install a Gas Detector
It's a good idea to install a gas detector in your home if you use propane. In the event that your tank has a leak, the alarm will sound across your house, giving everyone a fair warning that it is time to evacuate and call out a service technician to evaluate the scene at hand. Gas detectors can be found at relatively low prices at most hardware stores. Keep in mind that a gas detector is different from a carbon monoxide detector. Ideally, you'll have a gas detector and a carbon monoxide detector installed in your home.
Order Propane Fuel From Smart Touch Energy
As winter takes hold, it is crucial to be well-stocked on propane fuel to last through the winter months. You can purchase in bulk during select times of year and save more in the long run by investing upfront. If done in the summer when demand is low, you can save even more money. Regardless of how often or when you order propane fuel, it is important to know of nearby suppliers that will come to fill your tank, even during off-hours, holidays and weekends.
For residents in New England and the Tri-state area, Smart Touch Energy has long been a leading supplier of propane fuel at all hours, day or night. Whether you have a small or large tank, our truck can be at your address in good time to supply your house with the fuel needed to keep you warm in the winter. Contact us today to learn more about our fuel delivery services.