Lakes Gas Blog
Propane can be a great cost-effective way to heat your home in the winter. Heating with propane tends to be cheaper than heating with electricity, and propane heat systems tend to last about 30 percent longer than electric heat pumps, and could pay for themselves in a few years, according to the Propane Education and Resource Council. And following a few simple steps can help you save even more money with propane during cold weather.
- Change your furnace filter regularly. It is recommended filters be changed every month. Clean filters increase efficiency and airflow, and can help reduce dust and other allergens in your home, so you don’t need to plug in your air purifier.
- If you have a tank-style water heater, drain it every six months to remove mineral deposits and increase its efficiency.
- Use kitchen, bath and other ventilating fans carefully. In as little as an hour, they can pull out all the air you’ve just spent money to warm. Turn them off as soon as you’re done using them.
- Make sure your vents are not blocked. Arrange furniture and draperies so they do not block vents or baseboard units. Unobstructed vents create good airflow, which will heat rooms using less energy.
- Have your heating system inspected and serviced every year by a qualified technician. A well maintained heating system is more efficient and will save you money.
- Invest in a furnace thermostat timer. You can set it to lower your homes temperature while you’re at work. Even a drop of 7 degrees can save you 10 percent on your heating bill every year. There’s no need to spend money to make an empty house toasty warm.
- Keep your warm air inside. Use caulk and weather strips on windows, doors and ducts to protect against drafts. You’ll keep the cold outside and the heat you paid for inside.
- Consider switching to a propane water heater. They can save you up to one-third on your energy bills over time, and they recover hot water twice as fast as electric water heaters.
Yesterday we posted the Minnesota Propane Association's official statement regarding the propane gas industry crisis, and today we're sharing the Wisconsin Propane Gas Association's press release regarding Wisconsin's Governor Scott Walker and his declaration of a State of Emergency.
Governor Scott Walker has declared a State of Emergency in response to the propane shortage that is impacting Wisconsin in advance of the extremely dangerous temperatures expected to move across the state in the week ahead. The declaration directs all state agencies to be on alert and to assist as needed.
Emergency Hotline: The Wisconsin Department of Administration, Division of Energy Services has established a hotline for citizens affected by the propane shortage, which is 1-866-432-8947.
Additional LIHEAP Funds: Governor Walker has directed the Division of Energy Services to release $1.5 million in additional Low Income Home Assistance Program (LIHEAP) Crisis Benefit dollars to the 49 counties and tribes with a high percentage of propane households.
Keep Wisconsin Warm Fund: has increased their income limits and will allow households to receive two benefit payments in a year.
WI National Guard: Authorizes the National Guard to assist civil authorities and
authorizes the Adjutant General to utilize personnel called to state active duty pursuant to this order.
Click here to read Executive Order #130.
Click here to read News Release
On January 27th the Minnesota Propane Association (MPA) distributed a statement regarding the propane supply crisis Lakes Gas Co. and the rest of the propane gas industry is currently experiencing.
Like all MPA member companies, the association itself is doing its best to respond to the current supply crisis facing the industry. The MPA has fielded dozens of calls from the media seeking input about the industry response. The MPA has also fielded calls from concerned legislators and angry propane customers.
The MPA remains committed to working with the media to educate them and the public about the situation. The MPA continues to work with policy leaders on transportation and logistical assistance. The MPA continues to try and assist your customers with timely information and tips.
Following is a quick status update:
- Minnesota is currently under an emergency hours of service waiver at both the state and regional level. The most recent Minnesota waiver that was extended by the Minnesota Department of Transportation allows for driver hours of service requirements to be waived until February 7, 2014. The regional waiver expires February 11, 2014.
- The Minnesota Energy Assistance agency announced that ‘crisis’ funding for propane and fuel oil recipients has been doubled from $500 to $1000.
- The NPGA is working with pipeline operators and rail transporters to prioritize propane shipments.
- Ample supply exists in Texas. Last week, Texas waived its driver restrictions enabling trucking companies to seek fuel there.
The MPA has worked with our Washington DC, legislative delegation, and they have sent a letter to President Obama requesting the following:
- Extension the Regional Hours of Service waiver
- Request pipeline operators prioritize propane shipments into the Midwest and the Northeast
- Call for a temporary restriction of propane exports
- Increased funding for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP)
The MPA encourages all members to remain as calm as possible and be mindful of how you deal with propane deliveries to the less fortunate in times of extreme cold weather. Our propane industry needs to remember the human element of this crisis and make everyone aware of all the different avenues of help available for customers who are struggling to stay warm during this extreme weather. Remember, it only takes one bad incident to ruin the industry reputation in the eyes of the general public, regulators and legislators.
The MPA also offers the following advice to all propane companies to share with your customers:
- Turn down your thermostat 5-10 degrees.
- If you have a propane hot water heater, reduce hot water usage.
- Do not heat any rooms or building that do not have to be heated.
- Reduce stove use if you have a propane stove.
- Avoid calling your propane supplier until your gauge shows you are below 25%.
- Do not use your grill cylinders inside your home for any reason.
- Do not try to hook your grill cylinder to your home heating tank as this exposes your home to an extremely unsafe and illegal situation.
- Keep a path clear to your propane tank. This will help propane delivery drivers get to your tank easily, refill quickly, and get to the next home.
- Create your own energy plan.
- Work with your propane company to get your home on a regular delivery schedule.
- Discuss payment plan options with your propane retailer. Some retailers will help you spread your projected annual cost of propane over many months, spreading out the cost of seasonally higher bills.
- The federal government is offering tax credits that are available for certain home improvements. These include high-efficiency heating and cooling equipment such as propane water heaters and furnaces. For more information visit www.Energytaxincentives.org.
Finally, as Minnesota continues to experience colder than normal weather and snow covered roads, we cannot stress enough the need to safety for all working through this crisis.
The MPA can be reached at 763-633-4271.
It’s a new year, and Lakes Gas is unveiling an updated Tradeshow look!
Our new display for shows in the Minnesota, Wisconsin and South Dakota communities showcases all the many aspects of our company, from residential and commercial propane service, to propane supplies and equipment for the agricultural, industrial and construction industries, as well as retail and wholesale sales and fuel for forklifts and unoccupied homes.
Lakes Gas Co. and the entire Midwest is experiencing an unprecedented situation in propane supply at the present time. Several factors have contributed to the current crisis:
- We experienced a greater-than-predicted consumption of propane during the grain drying season.
- It was an early season with a longer-than-normal cold spell.
- The Cochin pipeline, one of our major suppliers that provides propane from Canadian refineries, was shut down.
- There were railroad delays in getting contracted propane rail cars to our rail facilities. Currently there are approximately 90 cars behind.
These factors all contributed to the current shortage of product that we’re experiencing. In order to continue providing propane to our customers, we are short-filling customer tanks to make sure we have enough to go around. In addition, we are limiting all non-essential deliveries, such as those for garage heat and dispenser operations, among others. During this supply crunch, Lakes Gas Co. is focusing on residential heat accounts as our priority delivery.
We request your understanding during this situation. As always, Lakes Gas Co. will continue to put the customer first, and we’ll strive to keep delivering sufficient propane to keep you and your family warm during these cold winter days of short supply.