How Pre-Buying Propane Can Help You Save

pre-buying propane

With yet another severe winter behind us, many homeowners are looking for new ways they can conserve both energy and money when it comes to home heating. Even the thought of the words “polar vortex” is enough to send shivers down the spine of any property owner. Thankfully, there’s a lot you can do to manage your home heating and keep your family within budget.

One of the first topics that comes up when talking about saving money on home heating is conservation … and rightfully so. Conservation can be one of the most effective means to cutting back costs, mostly because you’re limiting your family’s energy usage. This conservation comes in many forms, including lowering the thermostat at night while you’re sleeping and also while you’re away at work.

However, many families don’t realize there is another way they can possibly save. Pre-buying propane has become more popular with homeowners over the last several years. But before we discuss why, let’s first get a better understanding of the process.

What is Pre-Buying Propane?

Essentially, pre-buying propane program allows you to purchase your home’s propane gas at a set price in advance. This can be an extremely effective way of saving because you are able to take advantage of a rate that is typically lower during the beginning of the season and avoid the inevitable spikes that arise during the coldest months of the year.

Before deciding if pre-buying is right for you, it’s important to note that there is often a minimum buying requirement for the amount of propane you are ordering, and usually a limited number of gallons available for pre-sale. Estimating the amount of propane you’ll need for entire season can be tricky, but our Keystone Propane experts can easily help you determine how much propane is the right quantity for your family’s lifestyle.

By planning ahead and timing it right you can save hundreds of dollars a year by pre-buying propane. To find out more about the Keystone Propane Pre-buying Program, contact one of our experts today.

Summer Energy Savings

summer energy savingsAugust may be one of the hottest months of the year, but there’s a lot of you can do to beat the heat while saving on energy costs. Here are some helpful tips to help you keep your cool:

Turn on Ceiling Fans

Air conditioning is a great way to bring down the temperature in your home or business, but it will also drastically increase your energy bill if you aren’t careful. Consider using an air conditioner only in the daytime … and make sure you close your windows to keep the cool air in and the hot air out. When the temperature drops at night, it’s time to open those windows up and turn on your ceiling fans to get the air circulating.

Use Air Conditioning Moderately

Soaring temperatures may tempt you to crank the AC, but it’s important to remember that the lower the house temp, the higher the electric bill. Did you know studies show that for every degree you set your air conditioner below 75 degrees Fahrenheit, you are using approximately 3-5 percent more energy? Setting your air conditioning temp just a few degrees higher can help to shave more than just a few dollars off your monthly bill.

Try Temporary Awnings

If you don’t want to make awnings a permanent addition to your home, you can always install temporary awnings to keep the sun out of south-facing windows. This will help to keep your home cooler in summer, and then you can remove the awnings to let the sun shine in during cold winter months.

Get Casual

If you’re a small business owner, chances are you’ve experienced the sting of high AC bills during the hottest months of the year. One way to help alleviate the burn of high energy bills is to forget about casual Fridays and let your staff sport casual clothing all week long. Lightweight, comfortable clothing can help lower your AC bill and while making your employees more productive.

There are a lot ways you can save on cooling your home or business while also reducing environmental impact. If you have any creative ideas on how to beat the August heat with summer energy savings, please leave your ideas in the comments!

3 Tips for Hiding Your Propane Tank

hiding your propane tankThere are many reasons why homeowners use propane gas to heat their homes. Propane is one of the most versatile energy sources available, and has the ability to provide affordable home heating that is both environmentally friendly and efficient.

Propane delivery is an easy process that involves the expertise of courteous Keystone Propane personnel who fill your propane tank in order to meet your predetermined needs. Most propane tanks are located in the rear of the home, out of view from passersby. Although tanks generally aren’t seen by the public, many homeowners take the time to fully integrate their tanks into their backyard space for maximum outdoor beautification.

If you enjoy spending quality time outdoors an feel that your propane tank could use some extra TLC, here are a few tips to safely improve its looks:

Tip 1 – Landscaping

This is one of the simplest and most affordable ways to make your propane tank easy on the eyes. Some beautiful flowers or low shrubs can lessen the stark contrast the tank typically has against its organic surroundings. It is extremely important to avoid hitting any propane lines when landscaping as they are typically located no deeper that 12 inches under the surface. All plants, flowers, or shrubs should have shallow roots and should be planted a minimum of 3 feet away to avoid potential interference with the propane line when hiding your propane tank.

Tip 2 – Additional Fencing

Another very common trick is to create additional fencing that extends in front of the propane tank and blocks it from view. This is a very successful tactic as long as you are very careful about leaving adequate access to the tank and proper ventilation. Avoid completely enclosing the propane tank with fencing, but instead use your fence camouflage. This is especially important if you live in areas that have a snow accumulation, as the enclosed area can easily fill up, making it extremely difficult for your propane provider to access the tank.

Tip 3 – Create a Facade

If you’re feeling a bit adventurous, you can create a facade resembling the front of a small shed (or any object you’d like) to hide your propane tank. This is a project that can be fun for the whole family while keeping your propane tank out of view. This is also an excellent way to make sure your propane tank is still fully accessible and receiving an adequate of sun.

Any of these ideas for hiding your propane tank are great for making it look more at home its natural surroundings, but it is imperative that you always make sure there is enough ventilation for your tank and a lot of space to allow for easy access.

If you are unsure on how much access space or ventilation is required for hiding your propane tank, feel free to contact Keystone Propane and one of our propane delivery professionals will be happy to supply you with the info you need to make your propane tank project successful.

Create a Backyard Oasis with an Outdoor Propane Fireplace

Outdoor Propane FireplaceTransform your unused exterior space into an backyard oasis with a comforting outdoor propane fireplace. If you’ve been thinking about how you and your family can make better use of your outdoor areas and how you can spend more time in the fresh air, a fireplace is the perfect solution.

Since the dawn of time, humans have gathered around the hearth to enjoy the warmth of their fireplaces, but things have progressed a lot since then. There are many types of outdoor fireplaces to choose from, so it’s important that take a few minutes to figure out what it is that you want (and need) in your new unit. If it’s warmth and beauty you’re looking for without the hassle that typically goes along with owning and operating a wood burning fireplace, a propane gas outdoor fireplace is an ideal option.

There are several benefits to choosing an outdoor propane fireplace over a wood burning unit. Some of these benefits include:

  • eliminating the dangerous sparks that wood can throw off
  • eliminating the sizable clean-up that comes with burning wood
  • propane fireplaces are less harmful to the environment

If you do decide on a propane fireplace, it’s also important to remember that choosing a custom installation can be considerably more expensive than a regular unit. Keystone offers a variety of outdoor propane fireplace that offer easy set up, giving you a beautiful backyard oasis for a lot less time and money.

* Important Note: when setting up your new propane fireplace, always make sure that it’s away from trees, shrubs, or any other flammable materials.

Investing a small amount into an outdoor fireplace will also extend your outdoor enjoyment further into the cooler fall season, and let it begin sooner in the Spring. Keep the outdoor chill away in spring, summer, and fall, and get your family outside more often.

If you’d like more information about the propane gas fireplaces offered by Keystone Propane, click here and start building your cozy, backyard oasis today!

10 Big Green Egg Cooking Tips

big green egg cooking tipsIf you haven’t used a Big Green Egg before, you’ve never experienced everything it has to offer as far as convenience, flavor enhancement, and safety. The Big Green Egg reaches your ideal cooking temperature in just minutes, is extremely easy to start, and is much safer to use than traditional metal grills because its ceramic surface stays cooler.

Here is a list of Big Green Egg cooking tips that both new and experienced users will find extremely helpful:

Big Green Egg Cooking Tip #1

Use a complete load of Big Green Egg natural lump charcoal, and never use lighter fluid to get your Big Green Egg started.

Big Green Egg Cooking Tip #2

Keep all the vents open when lighting your charcoal, and don’t close the lid anytime during the first 10 minutes your grill is lit.

Big Green Egg Cooking Tip #3

Never open the lid without “burping” it first. Simply lift the lid just a few inches to release the heat to avoid a full blast.

Big Green Egg Cooking Tip #4

Light all of your coals for direct grilling meats like burgers, steaks, and pork chops. You can preheat to approximately 650 degrees and open the top and bottom vents completely. Sear your meat one minute on each side, then lower the lid to seal in moisture and infuse incredible smokey flavor into your cuts.

Big Green Egg Cooking Tip #5

Use the ceramic plate known as a convEGGtor for convenient indirect smoking and grilling.

Big Green Egg Cooking Tip #6

Add 3 hunks of hardwood like hickory to the top of the coals that are unlit to achieve maximum smoke flavoring.

Big Green Egg Cooking Tip #7

Pre-heat to 200 degrees after setting up for slow cooking in order to cold smoke your meats. Add ice to a pan and place it on top of the convEGGtor, and put the food you want to cold smoke on top of that.

Do you have any additional Big Green Egg cooking tips? If so, please leave your ideas in the comments below?

Top 5 Safety Tips for Grilling

safety tips for grilling Grilling is one of America’s favorite past times, especially during the summer months, but there’s a few important things to consider in order to avoid potential dangers. Check out our top 5 safety tips for grilling to keep the good time rolling and your outdoor cooking on track.

Tip One – Read the Manual

Whether you’re about to light up a brand new grill or are cooking on a grill you’ve owned for years, there’s a huge benefit to understanding its mechanics. You can greatly reduce the likelihood of accidents if you take time to read your propane grill’s owner’s manual. Every grill has a certain range of operation and safety restrictions that you should adhere to in order to maintain the highest safety standards possible.

Tip Two – Keep Food Cool

It’s extremely important to keep your food cool until the moment your ready to throw it on the grill. You may be surprised that bacteria can grow on all different types of food, and that the average person is more likely to get food poisoning than to catch the flu.

Tip Three – Grill in a Safe Location

Grilling in a location that is too close to the home causes hundreds of house fires every year. Be very thoughtful when considering where you are placing your grill when cooking and mindful of the minimum distance it should be from your home, garage, or shed.

Tip Four – Keep a Fire Extinguisher Accessible

Every home should have at least one fire extinguisher, and preferably one on each floor or in any location there could be a potential for fire. Keeping a fire extinguisher near the location of your outdoor grill is an obvious choice as it would come in very handy in the event of a small cooking fire.

Tip Five – Keep Your Grill Clean

Make sure you take the time to clean your grill thoroughly before you light it for the first time this season and between every use thereafter. Any build up of grease or fat will increase the probability that a fire may occur.

Most importantly, use your common sense and think everything through when cooking, cleaning, and storing your grill to make sure you and your family have the best summer cooking experiences!

Do you have any additional tips for grill safety? If so, please feel free to leave your ideas in the comments below.

Spring Cleaning – Home Improvement and Maintenance

spring cleaning - home improvement Spring is finally upon us, and it’s time to get your home in tip top shape. Don’t dread your seasonal home improvement and maintenance chores! Here is a helpful checklist to keep your spring cleaning on the right track, brought to you by Keystone Propane.

Air Conditioning Maintenance

You may be excited to turn down your home’s heat as the weather slowly warms up, but you should also consider some air conditioning maintenance before summer’s first heat wave takes you by surprise. Consider contacting a professional heating and cooling specialist to thoroughly clean the outside of your air conditioning system, and be sure to change the inside filters as well. A clean unit will have a much higher efficiency rate and save energy in the long run.

Roof Repair

Inspect your roof carefully as the snow and ice fades to see if there is any significant winter damage to your shingles. If you notice any shingles that may be cracked or broken, consider replacing them before the summer sun does even more damage.

Wood Trim Inspection

Take time to inspect any wood trim that surrounds your doors, windows, decks, and railings. This can be done easily with a screwdriver. Now is the time to repair or replace damaged trim before the spring rains make the problem even worse.

Look for Leaky Gutters

Those spring rains can create some serious havoc if you have leaky or loose gutters damaged by winter weather. Don’t let improper drainage cause basement flooding which can quickly multiply interior damage. Clean out all of the remaining dead leaves and debris from your gutters and make sure your the drainage is flowing away from your home’s foundation.

Prepare Lawn Equipment

Do a quick test to make sure your electric and gas powered lawn equipment is ready to go for your first summer session of maintenance. This will make your yard work easier and give you more time to enjoy some summer fun.

Do you have any suggestions to add to our spring cleaning home improvement and maintenance checklist? If so, please leave your suggestions in the comments below?

When to Upgrade Your Furnace

when to upgrade your furnaceWhether you’ve recently bought a house or have lived in your current home for many years, it’s important to take time to assess the condition of your furnace. There are numerous benefits to replacing an old heating system, and you’ll find that making such an investment will benefit your family in the long run. Some of these benefits include:

  • A high efficiency heating system will lower your yearly fuel costs.
  • You’ll get peace of mind replacing a system that has previously failed.
  • Higher efficiency means increased home comfort.
  • You’ll be increasing the resale value of your home.
  • A higher efficiency furnace will reduce green house emissions and is environmentally friendly.

But how exactly do you know when to upgrade your furnace? One of the most reliable signs is that your furnace has something known as a “high idle loss.” Simply put, a high idle loss means that your system is wasting a considerable amount of heat when the furnace is off. This high idle loss has an enormous impact on the amount of heating fuel you consume each year.

Signs of High Idle Loss

Although hiring a professional to assess the state of your furnace is recommended, you don’t need to be a heating and cooling expert to recognize the signs of high idle loss in your home. You can start by answering the following questions:

  • Is your furnace room hot? If so, chances are good you’re experiencing high idle loss.
  • Is the furnace hot when it’s not making heat or hot water? This is another sign of high idle loss, especially if it’s occurring during the fall or summer months.
  • Is your furnace sized correctly? If your propane heating system frequently cycles on and of during the coldest days, it likely has too much capacity making the furnace highly inefficient.
  • Does your furnace have a pilot light? Pilot lights are continuously using energy, creating a less efficient idle loss.
  • How well is your heating duct system insulated? A substantial amount of heat loss occurs if your duct work is not insulated properly, particularly in unheated areas of your home.

Once you have determined whether or not you’re experiencing high idle loss in your home, consider talking to a professional for information on the cost of replacing your current heating system. Upgrading your furnace can truly be a wise investment in your home, the environment, and your well being.

New Energy Saving Tool for Homeowners

energy saving tool Saving money on your home heating is now easier than ever, thanks to a new energy saving tool recently released by the U.S. Environment Protection Agency (EPA). The tool is designed to make recommendations to American homeowners for prioritized and customized home improvement projects that will have a positive impact on your home heating and your pocket book.

According to EPA Administrator, Gina McCarthy:

“As we enter the winter months, homeowners can use our new Energy Star Home Advisor to increase energy efficiency and save money while reducing greenhouse gas emissions that fuel climate change. When homeowners take advantage of this important tool and increase the energy efficiency of their homes, many families will notice savings on energy bills and improvements in the comfort of their homes.”

The tool gives you the opportunity for a DIY energy assessment, guiding you while you create an Energy Star profile for your home. The tool then uses this profile to create customized and prioritized home improvements, from which you can make your own checklist of projects to tackle including air filter replacements or insulation areas of your home like the attic.

As you make your improvements, you update the tool so that it can give you a clear view of your home’s current energy output and see first hand how the changes you’ve directly affect the environment. The tool will also give you additional recommendations and the opportunity to update your personal to-do project list.

The EPA released this new tool as part of its initiative to increase awareness of how energy saving home upgrades can help homeowners across the country save on energy expenses. You can try the Energy Star Home Advisor tool by clicking here.

The Winter Home Emergency Checklist

winter home emergencyWhether we like it or not, we’ll all be experiencing extremely cold temperatures in the upcoming months. The question is … will you and your family be ready? There are a lot of things you can do to make sure your home is prepared for winter weather emergencies, and Keystone Propane is here with great advice on winter weather home safety.

Be Aware of Forecasts

A big part of being prepared for inclement weather is knowing when to expect it. Although weather forecasts may not always be 100% accurate, it’s still a good idea to be aware of the week’s predictions. After all, knowing is half the battle, and it’s always better to be prepared for a possible emergency that never happens that being caught off guard.

Fireplace Maintenance

Nothing is as heart warming as a glowing hearth. But before you light your fireplace for the first time this season, you should arrange to have your flue or chimney inspected by a professional every year. If you’ve never had an inspection before and are unsure who to contact, reach out to your local fire department for a list of local recommendations.

Smoke Detector Installation

It’s an unfortunate fact that thousands of American families experience home fires each year, which is why it’s so important to make sure you install a smoke detector in any areas being heating by a wood stove, fireplace, or kerosene heater. You should also have a carbon monoxide detector installed in these areas, and always make sure your fuel-burning exhaust is being vented properly to the outdoors.

Additional Insulation

Many people add extra insulation to windows and doors to prepare for winter, but you should also do a quick survey to identify additional insulation opportunities. For example, you may consider adding extra insulation to any water lines that run along side your home’s exterior walls. This will reduce the chance of frozen pipes during bouts of freezing temperatures.

Pet Protection

When the weather is particularly frigid, be sure to bring your furry friends inside whenever possible. If it’s absolutely necessary to keep your pets outdoors, always provide shelter, warmth, and drinkable water.

Snow Removal

Chances are good you haven’t though about your snow blower since the last time you used it, but don’t wait until you’re buried in three feet of snow to make sure it’s working properly. Set aside time to inspect all of your snow removal equipment and have them serviced if necessary.

If you have any additional Winter Home Emergency Checklist suggestions, please leave your ideas in the comments below!

Avoiding Propane Shortages in 2015

propane shortagesSudden and unexpected propane shortages took many homeowners buy surprise last year. Luckily, there have been many precautions taken since that time to prevent future U.S. shortages and keep propane costs to a minimum.

Many programs have been implemented to help members of the farming community who rely heavily on propane to fuel their family businesses. Both the propane industry as a whole and farmers have recognized the immediate need for increased storage, and have worked together closely to forecast their supply needs. Strategic planning in conjunction with assistance programs to purchase additional bulk tanks and pre-buy propane under contract have greatly contributed to alleviating the squeeze on the farming community.

So what does this mean for the average propane user? Studies show that residential propane prices have dropped significantly in the Northeast Region, and industry experts predict that last year’s price spikes are unlikely to happen again. This optimism is credited to the fact that both consumers and dealers are being extremely proactive.

Propane dealers throughout the Northeast Region intentionally have a lot more propane in stock than they did this time last year. They have also strongly encouraged their customers to order their propane early, make pricing arrangements, and do everything they can to make sure that their homes are as energy efficient as possible.

As you well know, energy conservation has a multitude of benefits for the homeowners as well as the environment. Here are a few easy things you can do to upgrade your home’s efficiency today:

  • Check old windows for gaps that allow cold air in and warm air out. These can be fixed quickly with just a little bit of calking.
  • Eliminate drafts under doors by placing a long throw pillow along the floor in front of the gap.
  • Turn down the thermostat at the night while you and your family are sleeping, and again while you’re away at work and school.

At Keystone Propane, we value our customers and do everything in our power to provide you with outstanding service. We look forward to meeting all of your propane needs this winter and for many years to come! If you have any questions regarding your future propane orders, please feel free to reach out to us at any time.

Simplify Your Winter Propane Deliveries

propane deliveriesWe may be in the heart of the fall season, but like it or not, Old Man Winter is sneaking around the bend. As we enjoy the colorful foliage, it’s hard not to think about the freezing cold and snowy months in our immediate future.

We’d like to think that Winter’s beauty is the reward for all of the extra work we need to do in order to navigate through our normal daily lives. Everything from snow removal to dangerous road conditions changes the way we plan our days. And once you turn your heat on for the first time since the Spring, it’s also time to start thinking about how you can simplify your propane deliveries in the upcoming months.

Keystone Propane wants to help simplify your life, which is why we put together this list of tips to keep your regular propane deliveries on track.

  • Be aware of your levels. Try your best to keep an eye on how full your tanks are and check them regularly. This will reduce the risk of you running low on fuel and lessen the number of emergency deliveries you may require throughout the year.
  • Do your best to keep your driveway clear of snow during inclement weather to make it as easy as possible for the propane truck to safely make your deliver.
  • If there is a particular part of your property where the snow is heavily compacted, be sure to sprinkle salt and/or cinders. This includes driveways, sidewalks, steps, landings, and anywhere else you feel a delivery person may walk.
  • If there has been a particularly heavy downfall of snow at the time you’ve scheduled a delivery, it is advised that you clear a path through the accumulation so that your propane tanks are accessible to your delivery person.

By keeping these valuable tips in mind, you will greatly simplify your propane delivery service as well as ensure the safety of you, your family, and the Keystone Propane delivery staff. If you have any questions regarding Winter propane deliveries, please feel free to reach out to us at anytime.