‘Tis the season.
The season in which North Country Residents start to think about propane suppliers. If they’re lucky. Obviously, if you have some company’s tank sitting outside your house, you’re obliged to go with them. If you own your own tank, or if you’re establishing new service, you have a choice. And here’s what I have discovered – the rates for propane and installation vary infuriatingly and wildly.
We’re getting tired of constantly taking our 30lb RV propane tanks to be refilled, so we decided we need a big tank. Refilling our onboard RV propane tanks at the hardware store is costing us $3.59 per gallon. Besides inconvenient, that’s too much. My yellow pages revealed six local propane companies in the area. I wrote off one because I had heard bad things. Coupled with awful online reviews, I crossed that one off and called the remaining five.
I called AmeriGas Propane at (891-3172) all afternoon for two days, but no one was in the office – I kept getting transferred to the national emergency call center thingamajig. Also no luck reaching anyone at Suburban Propane (891-1515). Granted, I only tried Suburban a few times in an hour, but the phone just rang and rang.
Big D Fuel Inc (891-1900) was the first call in which I gained actual information. I was told that my propane would cost me $2.549 per gallon (or, about $255 for a 100 gallon tank). Plus $60 per man, per hour for hookup. This rate is based on using 800 gallons of propane through the season. Now, I am the first to admit that I can be hopelessly optimistic, but that’s 150 gallons of propane per month. We’re currently using about 42 gallons per month. I know it’s going to get much colder, but I do wonder if we could possibly use 150 gallons per month in a little 350 square-foot RV. I suppose it’s possible, but … $2.59 a gallon is really high. Plus, ya know. Paying for the installation.
Hyde Fuel (891-7246) blew all the others out of the water in the high-price department. $165 for the tank, $65 for the regulator, $115 or so for set up, and a whopping $3.75 per gallon for propane. That’s just about twice the best price I was quoted. How is this even possible?!
Which bring us to the friendly and more affordable Griffith Energy (891-1910). The boss is coming out (for free) to check things out before we proceed. He’s going to take a look at my through-the-wall direct vent cabin heater too, to see if it can be easily hooked to the same line. No charge for installation as long as it’s not complicated and it doesn’t take longer than two hours. The propane price per gallon? A special rate of $1.599 for the first tank fill, and $1.99 thereafter.
As for the expensive companies – C’mon. Do I look like I just fell off the city bus? I suppose a few of these places could have made an assumption that since this was new service (and an RV), I maybe didn’t know what I was talking about. But honestly – Wouldn’t I call around? They must be aware of their competitors’ rates. Up to $200 more per month and/or a requirement that we use over a particular amount of propane? And pay for them to place the tank? Please.
In the what-if-we-supplemented-with-electric department, I investigated the trendy and much touted EdenPure infrared heater. This thing is supposed to be the best thing since who-knows-what. Evidently, it ain’t all that. (I was disappointed – I wanted one.) The claim is that the thing will heat 1000 square-feet (far more that an RV). And the housing doesn’t get hot. Perfect. Except for it’s $400, and most folks claim it’s not much different that any other new-fangled large space heater. A lot of words get tossed around about these things, mostly from my Ace Hardware salesman – “pennies an hour.”
Well, yes. But, so what? The 1500w model would cost about .27 per hour to run, at our local electric rates. Running that 1500w model 24/7 would cost you about $194 per month. Add to that the $400 it cost you to buy it. You get the idea.
At any rate, my theory was at least proven – Heat takes energy and money no matter how it’s created, and there aren’t any magic wands or shortcuts. Most experts report that the Eden Pure is not much different that a quality $50 whatever-model from your local store. Consumer Reports’ #1 ranked heater? The Honeywell Electric heater HZ-519 … at just $60. DeLonghi heaters and oil-filled radiator style scored well also.
So, we figure we’ll be toughing out the cold season with Griffith Energy for our propane, and a a little portable floor model from Target or somesuch. Happy heating!