Have you heard the news about the propane shortage? Here in Nebraska, we have cold winters and in our little slice of the "Good Life" we rely heavily on propane for heating our homes.
We live in a very small town with no natural gas company- that leaves my neighbors and family to rely on electricity, wood or corn burners, or propane to heat their homes. You can imagine the panic yesterday when I heard that propane had jumped to over $5 a gallon!
That is almost triple of what we paid in the Fall. TRIPLE!
I immediately ran outside to check the levels of our propane tank. Then I was faced with a decision- do I call and get a minimum fill (100 gallons and $5.05) or do I wait and see what happens. I decided to hold off, praying that the propane shortage will ease in a few weeks.
I know that there has been an increase in the demand- even this fall propane was in short supply due to the farmers drying corn. I am hoping that this is a short lived event and the price is being driven higher by people panicking. As I am writing this, believe me, I am crossing my fingers for luck.
I know that many people cannot afford an extra $800-$1,000 heating bill this month or for the unforeseen future. So here are a few ideas to implement and try to help stretch the remaining propane in your tank:
- Turn down the thermostat. Sounds simple, but it will be hard to keep the thermostat at 60 degrees when Mature Nature decides to freeze us out with -30 degrees below zero winds. The main idea is to keep the house warm enough so the pipes don't freeze and cost you even more in the long run.
- Supplement with infrared heaters. We have several of the infrared heaters and they keep the rooms very comfortable. I do want to urge caution on the use of space heaters and remind everyone about the dangers they pose. This will increase your electric bill, but hopefully it will be cheaper than a propane fill.
- Change your furnace filters. I don't know if this will save you a lot of money in the long run, but it can't hurt. Filters are supposed to be changed regularly and allow your furnace to run more efficiently. Right now, every bit counts.
- Shut off the hot water heater. If your water heater uses propane to warm the water, shut it off at the fuse box. About thirty minutes before you anticipate showers or laundry, turn it back on and let it warm up. When you are finished or have a tank of warm water, shut it down so it is not kicking on throughout the day. Our water heater will keep water warm for several hours during power outages.
- If you use your oven, leave the door open afterwards. You paid for the heat, you might as well use it!
- Slow cook it. Our stove and oven run off of propane- so I will be relying more on the trusty crock pot. Crock pots are very economical to use compared to a standard oven. Plus, I can throw in dinner at breakfast and forget about it until supper. It doesn't get any easier in my book!
- Insulate windows and electrical outlets. It might cost you a few dollars now, but hopefully it will help you keep that precious heat inside!
- Boil water or use a humidifier to put a little moisture in the air. The humidity will make your house feel warmer.
- Use electric blankets to keep warm at night. Your electric bill will probably go up, but you might be able to get a good night's sleep if your teeth aren't chattering from the cold.