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Year-round Advice for Using Propane Safely

propane safety north carolinaWithout question, propane is one of the safest fuels you can use in your North Carolina home. But to stay as safe as possible, you should always pay close attention to the operation of your propane gas appliances. The best way to keep all your propane equipment running properly is to follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for preventive maintenance. Be sure to consult your owner’s manuals for what’s required.

Here are five safety tips to keep in mind.

  1. Propane smells like rotten eggs or a skunk’s spray. Propane manufacturers add this smell to help alert consumers to propane leaks. If you have someone living in your household with a diminished sense of smell (elderly relative, etc.), install a propane gas detector as an additional measure of security. Please go here to read what to do if you smell gas.
  2. When appliances operate properly, propane burns with a blue flame. If you see yellow flames—or notice significant amounts of soot on any equipment–the gas may not be burning completely. This can create carbon monoxide. Please contact your propane service provider.
  3. Regularly check the outdoor vents of your appliances to make sure combustion gases flow unobstructed to the outdoors. Insects, birds and small animals have been known to build nests in vent pipes. To prevent any damage, use a broom or a soft brush to gently remove any obstructions you find in your vents.
  4. As a general rule, you should schedule your next delivery when your tank gauge reads 30%. You can make it 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.
  5. 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.

Source: Propane Education and Research Council.

Propane-powered school buses have a lot to offer

propane school bus north carolinaTo help make switching to greener, alternative fuels a more affordable option, the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality has allotted millions of dollars for school districts that want to replace old, air-polluting diesel buses with cleaner-burning options—including propane-powered vehicles that run out of propane autogas.

Additionally, The Clean School Bus Program–which was included in the recently passed federal 2021 Bipartisan Infrastructure Law— provides funding to replace existing school buses with low- or zero-emission school buses. Read more here.

Decreasing Emissions

A study done by West Virginia University’s Center for Alternative Fuels, Engines and Emissions showed that propane autogas is a proven way to dramatically decrease emissions of toxic nitrogen oxides (NOx).So, the more propane-powered school buses replace old, pollution-belching diesel-powered buses, the fewer NOx emissions our children will inhale. Studies have shown that, when compared with the old diesel buses they have replaced, buses with propane motors emit far fewer emissions.

Significant Savings for Schools

School districts across the country have already gained enormous fuel savings by using propane autogas instead of more expensive diesel fuel. Kids are also benefitting from a healthier ride to and from school.

In terms of fuel and maintenance costs, schools can expect to save an average of $3,000 to $5,000 per bus.

The Propane Education and Research Council estimates that if all older, dirtier diesel school buses across the United States switched over to clean-burning propane-powered buses, the savings would be enough to cover the hiring of 23,000 teachers!

And while there aren’t that many propane-powered school buses currently on the road in North Carolina, that number can be expected to grow by leaps and bounds, especially these days, when diesel fuel is more expensive than ever. See how North Carolina compares.

Safer and Quieter Rides for Our Kids

Propane-powered school buses perform better in cold weather than diesel-powered buses. They start more easily and heat the interior faster so that windows are defrosted quickly. The alternative fuel engine in a propane vehicle also is quieter than a diesel engine but packs the same power.

Safely transporting students to and from school while navigating through all types of traffic, weather and terrain is a major—and sometimes daunting—task for school bus drivers. Naturally, this job requires focus, so the fact that propane autogas engines are 50% quieter than diesel engines not only makes for a more pleasant ride but a safer one.

Additionally, buses fueled with propane autogas are crash-tested for impact in the side and rear, meeting rigorous motor vehicle safety standards.

Bottom line: now is the time for school districts and businesses to acquire affordable, low-emissions propane vehicles, especially since generous financial incentives are available and propane currently costs much less than diesel or gasoline.

Enjoy Your Pool More, Heat It with Propane

pool heaters north carolinaWith all of the sunny, warm days we enjoy in North Carolina, it may seem like a pool heater is an unnecessary luxury. But while average temperatures enable the typical swim season to last from May through September, we still have to contend with some below-average temperature days and evenings during that time.

And what will your plan be or the rest of the year—especially if you’re someone who enjoys a daily swim as a fun form of aerobic exercise? It seems a shame to travel elsewhere and just let that backyard swimming pool go to waste.

That’s where the best pool heaters come in. There are a few different types, each of which offers its own benefits to help keep your pool warmer when the temperatures cool down.

Our obvious choice is a high-efficiency propane pool heater (sometimes referred to as a gas pool heater). It’s a popular option because propane pool heaters can quickly heat your pool to your desired temperature. Many people feel that this is the best pool heater around.

If you rely on one propane fuel and service provider, they know your home’s heating source and can seamlessly integrate your pool heater and install it quickly and properly for you. Your propane service professional can also take care of annual maintenance to ensure your heater runs problem-free.

How a Propane Pool Heater Works

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 and spas.

The best propane pool heaters are:

Best Propane Pool Heaters Vs. Other Fuel Options

Propane pool heaters have distinct advantages over other pool heater types, including:

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 North Carolina propane service provider and they’ll be glad to give you advice.

Read more about how propane raises the bar on outdoor living.

Why Propane Gives You More Energy for Your Money

propane vs electricity north carolinaDid you know that propane generates a lot more Btu than an equivalent amount of electricity? This means you need much less propane to produce the same amount of heat energy. That’s a big reason why propane is better for the environment. Because the less energy you use, the greener you are.

To appreciate propane’s big advantage over electricity in energy efficiency, let’s take a closer look at BTU content.

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, a British thermal unit (Btu) is a measure of the heat content of fuels or energy sources. It’s measured by the quantity of heat that’s required to raise the temperature of one pound of water by one degree Fahrenheit–at the temperature in which water has its greatest density (approximately 39 degrees Fahrenheit).

What Propane BTU-Per-Gallon Tells Us

BTUs can be used to compare energy sources on an equal basis. To compare propane to electricity, we need to know that:

To make these two energy sources “equal,” divide 91,452 Btus by 3,412 Btu. Your answer will be:

Propane101.com makes this comparison to illustrate the efficiency of propane compared to electricity. A 100-watt light bulb left on for a full day–24 hours–will consume 2.4 kWh. If propane could be used to power the same light bulb. it would only use 9/100th of a gallon of propane.

Propane Vs. Electric Water Heaters

If you have an electric water heater, here are four excellent reasons you will benefit greatly by converting to a propane water heater. If you have an old propane water heater, it is highly recommended that you upgrade to a new, more efficient propane unit.

Four Advantages of Using Propane to Heat Your Water

  1. Propane water heaters provide more value – When you consider that a propane water heater has a lower cost of maintenance and lasts years longer than its electric counterparts, propane always wins. And if you want an easy way to raise the value of your home, switch to a propane water heater! Tankless models, especially, are highly desirable to home buyers because it improves your LEED and home energy rating (HERS) scores.
  2. Propane water heaters are more efficient – A propane water heater delivers hot water on-demand. In fact, it works twice as fast and heats much more evenly and efficiently as your old electric unit so there is no more waiting around for the water to get to the proper temperature.
  3. Propane hot water tanks are the green choice – Propane is endorsed by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as an environmentally-friendly fuel. Choosing propane means you will be lowering greenhouse gas emissions and doing your part to save our planet. An electric water heater simply can’t claim that.
  4. Propane delivers on home comfort and convenience – With a propane hot water tank, you most likely will never run out of hot water again, and you will enjoy a recovery rate that is easily twice that of an electric unit. You’ll also be able to reclaim all that space your electric hot water heater has been taking up as a propane system has a much smaller footprint.

Propane hot water heaters also have more accurate temperature controls and offer many more options in terms of size and where you can put them in your home.

Considering all of these great reasons to choose a propane water heater, the smart choice should be clear. Whether you choose a tank water heater or a tankless water heater for your North Carolina home, you will find superior value and convenience that offers greater home comfort. You may even qualify for a rebate that can help you save you even more!

Read more about how propane improves home energy efficiency.

Some Facts about Propane That May Surprise You

propane facts north carolinaDespite the fact that propane has been used to fuel appliances and gas heating equipment for about 100 years, there are still quite a few misconceptions about how safe it is, how it can be used and other wrong beliefs.

Propane Is Versatile

It’s amazing when you add up all of the ways you can use propane. First, propane can run your home’s heating system, heat your water, dry your clothes, power your fireplace and run stoves and cooktops. You can also take propane outside to fuel your backyard grill, patio heaters, fire pits, pool and spa heaters, outdoor fireplaces and more! Propane is also invaluable as a versatile fuel for just about any farm or commercial application. It is also widely used a motor fuel, known in this case as propane autogas.

Propane Is Remarkably Safe

Propane is perfectly safe when it is used with proper care, just like any other heating fuel. Propane has a remarkable safety record, due in large part to the stringent codes and regulations developed by the propane industry and the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA).

And in North Carolina, propane dealers and their technicians, drivers and staff comply with state regulations that require periodic testing and training in order to ensure your safety. Read about propane safety.

Propane Is Friendly to the Environment

Propane has a lower carbon content than fuel oil, gasoline, diesel, kerosene and ethanol – a big part of the reason it was added to the Clean Air Act as a clean fuel in 1990.

Propane also emits less than half the greenhouse gas emissions of electricity to produce the same amount of energy. That’s primarily because a lot of the electricity used in our country is still produced by coal-fired plants.

Propane-powered appliances are typically much more efficient than electric models of similar size and output. Less energy used translates to less environmental impact. Consider this: propane generates much more Btu’s than an equivalent amount of electricity. Put another way, you need much less propane to produce the same amount of heat energy. For example, just one gallon of propane equals 27 kilowatt hours (kWh) of electricity.

Read more about propane compared to electricity.

The propane industry remains strongly committed to using less energy and improving our air by way of carbon reduction, sustainable practices and diminishing—or eliminating—our carbon footprint. The advent of renewable propane is part of that solution. Read more.

Propane Is Highly Efficient

Propane heats fast and effectively, with many propane appliances reaching super efficiencies of 98%. And because propane is clean-burning, investing in propane equipment saves you money since your equipment will need less maintenance and last longer.

Facts about Propane in North Carolina

Here are some numbers and facts to give you a better understanding of how important propane is to the people of North Carolina.

Let’s end with a few more facts. 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.

Maintaining 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. It’s the Energy for Everyone!

Which One Burns Cleaner with Fewer Emissions?

propane efficiency north carolinaIf you use propane appliances instead of electric ones, you’re doing your part to help the environment. The average propane-powered home reduces carbon dioxide emissions by nearly 30% compared to all-electric homes. What’s more, direct use of propane for space heating, water heating, cooking and clothes drying reduces greenhouse gas emissions up to 50%.

A Critical Part of the Energy Mix

Propane is such a crucial part of the energy mix. American-made propane remains abundant and provides comfort and convenience and saves you money. And you don’t get propane blackouts or large groups of people experiencing service interruptions.

But despite all of this, there has been an aggressive push from those in government to champion the increased use of electricity in favor of other fuels, especially propane, natural gas and heating oil.

But this policy-driven electrification would increase the average residential household cost, result in minimal reductions in emissions and put a severe strain on the electric grid.

In contrast, propane is affordable and available to everyone everywhere, without requiring forced conversions to electric heat pumps, or overburdening the electric grid.

Clean-Burning and Efficient

Propane gas, like natural gas, is clean-burning and highly efficient. Modern propane gas furnaces are 90% efficient, meaning very little heating energy is lost up the chimney and into the atmosphere. This also means your home burns less fuel to stay warm.

It takes three units of source energy to get one unit of electricity into your home. That means more coal has to be burned to produce electricity, generating even more carbon emissions, to get electricity to homes.

Propane and Lower Emissions

The minimal number of emissions released by a propane-heated house are cleaner than most alternatives. Propane contains virtually no particulate matter–a known carcinogen–and releases significantly less carbon dioxide (CO2) than other energy sources.

Homes with propane-fueled furnaces emit up to 50% less nitrogen oxide and 82% less sulfur oxide than technologies fueled by electricity. These emissions contribute to acid rain and cause respiratory ailments.

The Future: Renewable Propane

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, carbon-neutral resources such as animal oils, plant oils, biomass, and other triglycerides.

As the renewable propane sector grows, more and more North Carolinians will be able to use it to lower their carbon footprint even further.

Please go to RenewablePropaneGas.com to learn more.

Advice about How to Avoid Running Out of Propane

propane safe use north carolinaYour North Carolina 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 during the rest of winter.

Avoid Run-Outs

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.

How to Read Your Propane Tank Gauge

Look for a round dial (like a clock face) on your cylinders or tanks. Often, the dial is under the lid of the cylinder or tank, although sometimes it’s located on the top of a cylinder.

Next, see what number the hand is on. That number is the percentage (not the gallon count) of propane in your cylinder or tank.

To determine the number of gallons, multiply the capacity of the cylinder or tank by the percentage. If you have a 120-gallon cylinder and the gauge reads 70%, multiply 120 x .70, which equals 84 gallons.

If the gauge reads 30% or less on your tank or cylinder, arrange for a delivery from your local propane company.

If you’re having trouble reading your gauge or don’t know the capacity of your storage, contact your local propane company for assistance.

Watch a video about how to read a tank gauge.

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.

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 as Recommended

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.

Clean, Affordable Energy for Everyone

alternative home fuel north carolinaDid you know that propane gas has a lower carbon content than fuel oil, gasoline, diesel, kerosene, and ethanol? That’s a big part of the reason the U.S. Congress designated propane as a clean-burning alternative fuel in the 1990s.

Because propane is created through the processing of natural gas or crude oil, it is a fuel that is largely a domestic product. In fact, about 90% of the American propane supply is generated right here in the United States! That abundant, right-at-home supply makes propane a reliable fuel choice for your North Carolina home, including all of its appliances, throughout the year.

If you use propane appliances instead of electric ones, you’re doing your part to help the environment. The average propane-powered home reduces carbon dioxide emissions by nearly 30% compared to all-electric homes. What’s more, direct use of propane for space heating, water heating, cooking and clothes drying reduces greenhouse gas emissions up to 50%. Read more about propane and the environment.

Propane as an Alternative Motor Fuel

According to the Alternative Fuels Data Center, 60% of alternative-fuel vehicles nationwide operate on propane, from buses to fleet trucks, forklifts, lawnmowers and farm tractors. It is the third most popular vehicle fuel, next to gasoline and diesel.

Autogas is the term used to describe propane when it is used as a fuel for vehicles. Autogas is the world’s most popular alternative fuel. In fact, there are more than 300,000 vehicles in the U.S. that have been manufactured or converted to use propane autogas.

Its popularity has led to an array of innovations in OEM-supported vehicles that use the fuel, including light- and medium-duty trucks, vans and shuttles.

Propane Autogas in North Carolina

There are now about 15,000 propane-powered buses in the country, including in North Carolina, that transport nearly one million children to school each day, and that number keeps increasing.

To help this movement further, the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality has allotted millions of dollars for school districts that wanted to replace old, air-polluting diesel buses with clean-burning propane-powered vehicles to transport children in our state.

School districts have gained enormous fuel savings by using propane autogas instead of more expensive diesel fuel. Kids are also benefitting from a healthier ride to and from school. Studies have shown that, when compared with the old diesel buses they have replaced, buses with propane motors emit far fewer emissions.

You can read more about propane autogas and school buses by going here.

Your Propane Company Is on Your Side

home energy prices north carolinaWe 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 With Propane Prices?

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 North Carolina 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.

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

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.

When the Electric Grid Fails, Let Propane Take Over

propane generators north carolinaThe fragile electric infrastructure in this country has failed us time and again, causing massive disruption, frustration, and discomfort. We’ve all experienced a number of uncomfortable power outages in North Carolina over the years.

In preparation, some folks keep gasoline-powered portable generators in their garage for power outage emergencies. But these units have the capacity to deliver only a limited amount of power. They can also be dangerous if not vented properly.

In comparison, a whole-house backup propane generator allows you to enjoy all the comforts of home and keeps you safe when power is disrupted. With a propane-powered standby generator, your power will restart automatically within seconds after an outage, and it will stay on until power is restored – all without the hassles or carbon monoxide dangers that come with using portable gasoline generators.

Permanently installed–similar to an outdoor A/C unit–and supplied by a propane tank–propane generators are available in a variety of capacities to fit the needs of any size home in North Carolina.

Protect your comfort

With a propane whole-house backup generator, you’ll get through a summer outage with your air conditioning keeping the house cool. If you lose power in the winter, your home will stay at a safe, warm temperature so you and your family will be comfortable.

Protect your loved ones

Is there someone in your home who relies on medical equipment such as oxygen, home dialysis, or an electric wheelchair? A propane whole-house backup generator keeps their vital equipment running.

Protect your food

Some of the foods in your refrigerator can begin to spoil in just a few hours after the power goes out. You could end up throwing out hundreds of dollars’ worth of food–from your refrigerator and freezer–without a propane whole-house backup generator.

Protect your electronics

A backup generator powers your laptop, phone, TV, gaming system and more. You can work safely from home; you and your family will stay entertained, and you can stay connected with loved ones and the world outside as you await updates on restored power.

Choosing the Right Size Generator

When it comes to whole house generators, it’s critical to identify your specific comfort needs up front. The size of a whole house generator depends on what you intend to operate during an outage. Electrical appliances in your home tend to fall into two categories:

Generators range quite a bit in size – and price – depending on which and how many of each category of appliances above you want or need to operate when the power is out. A small, five kilowatt (kW) unit, for example, can operate power essentials such as lights, a refrigerator, a television and other small appliances.

A large, 25-kW generator on the other hand, can easily run high-wattage heat or air conditioning units while still being able to turn on lights and appliances. Depending on what other high wattage appliances are being run, a 25-kW generator may only be able to power one air conditioning or heat pump system so it is best to consider what you want your generator to accomplish.

If you don’t have a propane generator yet and would like to explore your options, reach out to your propane company for advice. Since whole house generators need to be connected to both your home electric supply and a fuel source, you’ll need certified professional technicians to make sure the job is done safely – and done right. Your propane company can probably refer you to a trusted professional.

You can learn about safety during power outages here.