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.

Preparing for Winter of 2015

winter of 2015If you thought last winter was tough, just wait until the winter of 2015. The foreboding forecast from the latest Farmer’s Almanac predicts that the upcoming winter will be equally as bitter as the last, and possibly worse.

Not exactly the news we’re looking for. And how reliable is the Almanac really? Can one speculate solely based on the rings around the moon, sunspots, the hair on the back of a cow’s neck, and wooly caterpillars? Our last treacherous winter made believers out of many East Coasters who suffered through the multiple polar vortexes that froze a majority of the nation.

Whether you choose to put credence in these predictions or not, it’s best to err on the side of caution and do everything you can to ensure you’re heating system is winter ready. The early fall heat wave will sizzle out when you least expect it, so don’t let the cold nights take you and your family by surprise.

Consider hiring a professional to come into your home to inspect and service your heating system to make sure everything is operating properly before you begin using it. Don’t wait to schedule your appointment … qualified professionals could potentially be booked up this time of year. A standard check up will give you peace of mind that your heating system is much less likely to falter during this harsh winter. Standard inspection and maintenance normally includes:

  • Changing or cleaning your filter after a thorough inspection
  • Closely inspecting your home’s thermostat
  • Inspecting your heating unit’s electrical controls and components
  • Checking air flow
  • Applying oil to the motor if necessary

There are also a wide variety of actions you can take to get prepared including:

  • Be sure to remove all flammable materials stored near your furnace or hot water heater. Give it appropriate room to perform optimally.
  • Improve air flow by cleaning filters yourself. Dirty filters typically reduce your air flow and your furnace’s efficiency.
  • Clean away any build up sediment around the base of your water heater tank to prevent damage to the interior lining.
  • Be aware when you turn your heating system on for the first time, and monitor for any unusual sounds and smells.
  • If you have difficulty with your heater initially, look first for the most obvious cause and solution.

By following these helpful tips, your home can be winter ready in no time, regardless of whether the Farmer’s Almanac prediction is right! Please feel free to reach out to us anytime and leave your winter of 2015 preparation advice in the comments below!


5 Affordable Ways to Winterize Your Home

winterize your homeWinter. Whether we like it or not, it’s right around the corner, ready to drop the temp while you crank up the thermostat. Don’t wait ’til the last minute to start thinking about winterizing your home. Fall can often bring low temps as well, and some day soon you’ll be giving in to the chill and turning on your home’s heat.

So, what can you do to help minimize your heating bill without breaking the bank? Here are 5 affordable ways to get a jump start on winterize your home.

1. Dodging the Draft

Many homeowners struggle with with cold drafts, particularly if they happen to own an older home. So, what’s the solution? You can thank your elders for this little gift. Introducing … the draft snake. This trend started during the Great Depression, and the best part is is simple and affordable. All you need to do is fill a fabric pouch with sand or just roll up an old towel to make your draft snake, then place it along the foot of your door. It will stop the warm air from rushing out and the cold air from rushing in.

2. Bring on the Bubble Wrap

Try to resist popping that bubble wrap (we know, it’s so much fun) and use it as a cheap insulation for your windows. It may look slightly unconventional, but we’ll see who’s laughing when you save a ton on your heating bill.

3. Redirect Your Ceiling Fans

This is one simple trick which eludes many homeowners. If you have ceiling fans, take a close look at what direction they are currently turning. A clockwise rotation will create warm air, while a counter-clockwise rotation will create cool air. When the temp outside begins to drop, make sure you have your fan set correctly and you could be cutting your heating costs by as much as 10%.

4. Set Your Thermostat

Don’t waste heat while you’re sleeping or away at work for the day. Be sure to turn down your thermostat at night to anywhere from 50 to 55 degrees and watch your heating costs drop as much as 10%. If you choose to upgrade, there are programmable thermostats available for purchase, or you can save by just remembering to be diligent.

5. Lower the Water Heater Temp

Most water heaters come with a default setting which most people never adjust. A typical water heater is initially set for 140 degrees, but lowering your setting to 120 degrees will still be a comfortable water temperature while saving you an additional 6-10% on your heating costs.

Keystone Propane is proud to provide our customers with affordable, dependable heating fuel and delivery. Please give us a call today for more information and find out why Keystone Propane is the only choice for your home heating.


Choose Your LP-Gas Provider Wisely

KeystonePropaneNewsletter-July2014-001Caveat Emptor … as you may have learned in your Economics Class in high school, this simple Latin phrase means, “Let the Buyer beware.” This philosophy should apply to every purchase you make, whether it’s a personal item or a consumable such as LP-Gas. When you first begin researching an LP-Gas provider, make sure that you do your homework. There are a wide variety of LP-Gas providers in most regions of the U.S. and their care, pricing, and attention to detail are just as various as their names.

Contact every provider in your area. Listen carefully to the information that they provide about their services and how their processes unfold. Beware of those that only discuss their prices and how easy it is to become a customer. They’re only interested in one thing, and that’s your money. If the companies you talk with don’t mention appliance inspection and system integrity testing, you should shy away from them. Your safety should be first and foremost to any company that you decide to purchase LP-Gas from.

Next, for the LP-Gas providers that you have on your short list, you should attempt to contact them after business hours to see exactly how difficult it would be for you to reach someone in case of an emergency. This is a critical part of any LP-Gas business … timely response to out of the ordinary conditions. If it is difficult to get a hold of them, would you want them responding to an emergency at your home?

One last item I would recommend is to talk people you know whom have LP-Gas. Ask them questions about their service and experience with the company that they are currently doing business with; even ask them how much gas a year they use and approximately what price they are paying. Then compare this information to the prices you were quoted when talking to those companies. A large disparity will tell you, the consumer, where your pricing will be in a couple of years.

We at Keystone Propane do our best every year to keep our customers competitively priced within their market segment. By doing this we establish a long term relationship with our customers and a trust that we will always attempt to look out for their interests. As an LP-Gas provider in NE Pennsylvania, we may never be the cheapest, but we will always be competitive. When it comes to service we go to great lengths to ensure that your system meets all Federal, State and Local codes. Our technicians take their time and explain safety procedures you should observe in the event of an emergency.

Whether you buy from Keystone Propane or another company, our hope is that you will buy from someone who has you and your family’s safety as their first priority, always.

Thank you,
Keystone Propane


How to Throw the Ultimate Summer Party

summer partySummer Fun for Everyone

Summer has finally arrived and Keystone Propane is here to help you get the party started! Celebrate in style this summer with some of our great outdoor party planning ideas. Invite your closest friends or the entire neighborhood … either way you’ll impress your guests while creating Summer memories everyone will remember.

Let’s Talk Appetizers

Naturally, the main course is what’s on everyone’s minds, but offering some mouth watering appetizers will hold your guests over ’til the burgers are well done. Although chips and dip are always a huge hit, don’t be afraid to opt for something a little more unexpected. Check out this amazing recipe for Fiery Grilled Shrimp with Honeydew Gazpacho on Epicurious. Introducing something with flair will definitely get your guests sending their compliments to the chef.

Find a Knife and Get Your Groove On

Carving a watermelon into a basket is an old trick, so why not kick it up a notch? You can easily create a cocktail keg by cleaning out the melon, then creating a hole that’s just a little smaller than keg shank. Insert the keg shank, fill the melon with your favorite pulp free beverage and … voila! You’re now the coolest party thrower on the block.

Super Simple Table Decor

You don’t need to be Martha Stewart in order to make your party table stand out. Instead of trying for something frilly, why not use some vibrant beach blankets to bring some color to your spread? Mix and match some great looks with strips, polka dots, and palm trees to give your party some personality while saving a few dollars on throw away items.

Fun Theme Parties

Why have a pool party when you can have a PIRATE pool party? Theme parties are entertaining for both the kids and adults in your life and they’re relatively inexpensive to pull off. There’s no shortage of great theme ideas out there. If you’re having trouble coming up with some of your own, check out this great list of theme party ideas.

Backyard Entertainment

You don’t need to hire a live band or dj to get your guests dancing and having a good time. It’s super easy to create a playlist on your phone to keep everyone moving to your favorite party music. Don’t be afraid to think out of the box. Pinata’s are perfect for the kids to enjoy and outdoor movie watching drive-in style is quickly becoming extremely popular in many neighborhoods.

Do you have any ideas on how to create an amazing Summer party? Please share your thoughts with us below!


Grill Safety Tips

grilling safetyThey say that Spring is finally here, and although the weather may not be fully cooperating, don’t let that stop you from getting outside and enjoying your grill! Nothing says Spring like the taste of outdoor cooking, but before you get started, there are some important things to consider to ensure your grilling goes as smoothly as possible. Grill Safety First

  • Always be aware if you are wearing loose clothing while cooking, and keep flammable materials as far away from heat as possible.
  • Whether you’ve purchased a new grill or are cooking on a grill that you’ve used many times before, it is important that you follow all of the manufacturer’s recommendations for set up, cleaning, and cooking.
  • Never leave your grill unattended under any circumstances. Accidents can happen quickly, and keeping a close eye on your grill could prevent problems from occurring.
  • Always have a fire extinguisher nearby in case of an emergency.
Grill Safety Tips for Gas Grills
  • One important thing to remember is not to overfill your tank. Be sure to leave enough room to allow the liquid to expand.
  • Take a close look at any hoses attached for signs of leaks or cracks that may allow for the escape of fuel.
  • Never even consider cooking indoors on your gas grill under any circumstances. You should also avoid using your gas grill under over-hanging structures such as awnings or canopies.
Safety Tips for Charcoal Grills
  • It’s common place to see people adding lighter fluid directly to the hot coals, but this can definitely create a dangerous situation.
  • When storing lighter fluid, take care to keep it away from small children and pets. Keep lighter fluid in a safe, cool place.
  • Always leave your charcoal lid open until you are ready to begin cooking.
  • Take care when disposing of charcoal ashes and always use a non-flammable container.

Whether your cooking juicy burgers, chicken, BBQ, or veggies, just as much attention should be paid to preparation and cooking safety as to your delicious meals. Follow these safety tips and enjoy cooking all your favorite foods this season.

Why Choose a Kamado Grill?

KAMADO Grill JOE CLASSIC 18If you are among the many grill enthusiasts who are always looking to improve your grilling techniques, you may be interested in learning more about the Kamado Grill. Kamado grilling is becoming an increasingly popular way to prepare your favorite foods, giving you juicier meats with the wood-fire flavor that makes mouths water.

What Is Kamado Grilling?

Originally used by the Japanese, the first kamados were ovens used for firing and cooking made from ceramics and other earthen materials. Modern grilling experts turned to the original kamado to create today’s version, which is considered by many to be the premium method for outdoor cooking. They are typically fueled by charcoal, however, there are also other versions that rely on gas or electricity. The ceramic construction of the kamado delivers an impressive amount of heat retention, making the kamado grill an extremely efficient means of cooking outdoors. It is also incredibly versatile in the types of foods it is able to prepare. The adventurous cook can do much more than strictly grilling, as the kamado grill is also well suited for not only smoking and roasting, but baking breads and pizza with the use of a pizza stone.

The Convenience of Kamado

One of the most attractive features of the kamado grill is that it can cook pretty much any type of meat you would normally cook in a conventional. Some kamado grills even offer a rotisserie option that will allow you to crisp your meat to perfection. Because most kamado grills usually use lump charcoal in lieu of the traditional briquettes, they burn cleaner and leave less ash behind. To keep the small amount of clean up as easy as possible, many kamados include a slide out tray to dispose of the little ash that is remaining after cooking.

Another great feature of many kamado grills is that they come with the ability to cook on multiple surfaces at the same time via an internal tray. The convenience of the internal cooking tray allows you to cook several foods at once, making it possible for your meat and vegetables to be finished cooking all at the same time. These separate heat zones are tremendous time savers for those of you looking for a quick and delicious meal.

Have you ever cooked on a kamado grill? If so, please feel free to leave us feedback on your experiences and don’t forget to visit our pages for Kamado Joe and The Big Green Egg for more information!