Two important tax credits for propane, the alternative-fuel vehicle refueling infrastructure credit and the excise tax credit, are set to expire at the end of this year. This is no surprise, but it is important for us to highlight why keeping the credits is such a benefit for consumers and the propane autogas market.
Propane autogas is on a roll. It is a domestically produced, clean-burning fuel, with low upfront costs for customers to convert and with short payback terms. While the autogas industry is small compared to the one for gasoline powered vehicles, there is vast opportunity for growth. The tax credits, if they are extended, will help autogas continue to make strides and grow market share, while saving customers money: on average ~$1/gallon before tax credits.
PERC (Propane Education and Research Council) recently put out an excellent comparison between high efficiency propane furnaces and ground source heat pumps (GSHPs). Every consumer has their different preferences (comfort), concerns (upfront costs and annual heating costs), and constraints (price), so PERC broke down the differences to give them the most data available.
Beyond the above factors, two of the most important in choosing your system are design and location. A ground source heat pump transfers heat between your house and the ground or a nearby water source (which retain heat more than the surrounding air).
The system can work in reverse automatically, so it can either draw heat in on a cold day to heat your house, or suck the heat out to cool your house on a hot day. One key drawback to a GSHP is that is requires site-specific designs (both inside your house and out to reach the ground or water source), and this will add to the overall costs. On the other hand, propane powered furnaces are straightforward in design and installation, and the turnkey nature can translate into lower costs. HVAC contractors will also generally understand the more simplified setup of a propane furnace versus the specific challenges for installing a heat pump.
How many gallons of propane are in a 120-gallon tank? Some of you may recognize this as a trick question. The tank has a 96-gallon capacity. So why aren’t propane tanks ever filled up all the way? That has to do with the 80% fill rule.
The 80% fill rule is a preventative safety measure against the fluctuations that happen inside a tank. Propane, like water, will expand when heat is added to it. Propane, however, will increase in volume nearly 17 times greater than water over the same teperature increase. To allow for this expansion, propane containers are filled to only 80% of their capacity.
That means a tank that is 80% full on a mild March day, might register as 85-percent (or higher) at the mid-July cook out. It’s the same amount of propane, but it’s taking up more space. So the extra space in the tank is a cushion against the pressure that builds up in a tank when it’s hot.
Want to know the fill capacity of your propane tank? Multiply the tank’s total capacity by 0.8. Here’s a handy cheat sheet showing you total number of gallons remaining based on your tank size and current gauge level.
How about a 50% decrease in your total fuel cost and a payback on your investment of approximately one year? How about we also add in the fact that you are helping the environment, will not see any decline in vehicle performance, and will not inconvenience your employees at all? Here’s proof…
A recent article in FleetOwner magazine highlights Lake Michigan Mailers, a company operating in Michigan and Indiana that just upgraded to propane autogas and is seeing immediate benefits. They just upgraded seven vehicles with the Icom North America JTG II bi-fuel liquid injection system (~$6,300 each) and plan to do even more.
“Not only did propane autogas fulfill all of our requirements, but a study showed it would give us the fastest return on our investment,” said their president David Rhoa. The system allows their 7 Ford E-150 vans to run on propane and gasoline for flexibility, but the vast majority of the time they are run on propane. “The savings on a single bi-fuel vehicle running 25,000 mi. typically covers the conversion cost within the first year,” said Rhoa. “After that, the bi-fuel vehicle essentially pays back dividends to the company over the next three years.”
AmeriGas supports LIHEAP, the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, for customers who may be having problems affording their heating bills. LIHEAP is a grant that offers assistance in the form of a cash grant, sent directly to the utility company, or a crisis grant for households in immediate danger of being without heat.
Although it is a federal program, each state administers LIHEAP separately and you should apply directly to your state if you think you are eligible.
Here are details about LIHEAP heating assistance available in the state of Massachusetts.
Eligibility is based on household size and the gross annual income of every household member, 18 years of age or older. Household income cannot exceed 60% of estimated State Median Income (see chart below).
With the winter weather fast approaching, the Propane Education and Research Council (PERC) lists seven reasons why you should consider purchasing a propane generator:
Generators were hot items in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, and remain so in areas prone to weather- or capacity-related outages.
Fueling gasoline or diesel generators was another challenge. Customers faced long lines and dwindling supplies at the few gas stations able to operate in the weeks after the storm.
Such scarcity makes propane a compelling alternative generator fuel when the power grid fails. Here are some other reasons why:
1) Propane is easier to access during natural disasters.
Epic lines and exhausted supplies were the norm at scores of gas stations after Hurricane Sandy. Most stations couldn’t operate until power was restored, which took as long as 19 days in some areas. Unlike gasoline and diesel, propane can be stored on your property in a sealed tank or cylinder, giving you independence from gas stations.
2) Propane-fueled generators can be tailored to your precise power needs.
Posted in AmeriGas Propane, Commercial Propane, Residential Propane
Tagged amerigas, AmeriGas Propane, environment, green, propane gas, propane generator, propane tankless water heater, safety, water heating
(Photo courtesy of Google Images)
As the thermometer goes down, your preparation for inclement weather should go up. Make sure that you and your family have reviewed the important information that you need to know about propane safety before, during after winter storms. Taking a few simple propane-related safety precautions and discussing them with your family can help you all thoroughly enjoy the upcoming winter wonderland. The Propane Education and Research Council (PERC) has several precautions that you can review with your family now, before the snow begins to fall.
BEFORE: Be prepared for a winter storm.
Make sure your propane tank, whether it is located above or below the ground, is marked properly by a flag, pole, or stake that is higher than the average snow cover depth for your location. This will increase the odds of it being seen by someone such as a snowplow operator, reducing the chances for a potentially fatal accident.
Have an adequate supply of propane in your tank. AmeriGas recommends that you call for a delivery service when your tank is at 30% full. During and after a winter storm, roads leading to your home or farm might not be accessible for delivery. It is recommended that you establish a regular delivery schedule with your propane retailer.
Propane applications can be found anywhere you look. This safe fuel serves approximately 60 million people in the United States in millions of homes, industry, farming and more. At home, you can find propane powered appliances from your range top and oven, dryer, fireplace or furnace, to your backyard pool and spa heater, patio heater or fire pit. You use it for your grill and have a propane powered back-up generator if need be. Most of those applications are obvious, but did you know the most hot air balloons fly because of propane’s help? Hot air balloon pilots can control their ascent and descent by heating more air with “burners” or slowly releasing air allowing the heated air to cool off or by using a variety of vents located in strategic points on the envelope vent out the hot air. Or how about the ice resurfacer in your local ice rink? Probably powered by propane! Landscapers are turning to propane powered mowers and commercial fleets (law enforcement, taxis, school buses) across the country are converting to propane autogas. There are propane applications all around us, and if we think hard enough, we may even remember the formula for propane from high school chemistry (C3H8, you’re welcome!) but if you’re curious to learn more about this green and versatile fuel, here you go!
Posted in AmeriGas Propane, Commercial Propane, Residential Propane
Tagged amerigas, AmeriGas Propane, autogas, cooking, energy, environment, fleet, green, grill, metro lawn, propane, propane autogas, propane grill, propane heat, propane mower, water heating
If your business depends on forklifts to operate, you need to make an important decision: which fuel to use. You have three main options: propane, electric and diesel. Let’s start by taking a quick look at all three options:
Propane is an approved, clean fuel listed in the 1990 Clean Air Act as well as the National Energy Policy Act of 1992. Propane has always been a “green” fuel: far ahead of today’s trends. Propane is one of the lightest, simplest hydrocarbons in existence, and, as a result, is one of the cleanest burning of all fossil fuels.