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Buying a Home with Propane Heat? 5 Things You Should Know

Written on: August 4, 2018

If you’re about to own a propane-heated home for the first time, you probably have questions. How does it work? Is it better than gas or oil? What are your responsibilities as a homeowner?

To make sure you’re fully prepared to fill, use and maintain a propane tank, we compiled a list of the top five things you should know:

1. It’s an Environmentally-Friendly Heating Option

It definitely isn’t the most popular home heating option, but it is a top choice if you have the environment in mind. Many propane-fired heating systems have an efficiency rating of 95%, meaning 95% of each propane gallon consumed is used as heat within the conditioned space while the remaining 5% is exhausted through a chimney or direct vent outside. Propane heat can reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 68 percent – a substantial amount.

Of course, this also depends on the age of the systems depending on the propane fuel to function, not just the type of fuel itself. If your furnace and appliances are older than 15 years, it might be time to start planning replacement in order to take full advantage of propane’s efficiency potential. Furnaces over 12 years old and boilers over 30 years old that are heated with propane are eligible for MassSave’s Early Heating and Cooling Replacement program, which can give homeowners up to $3,250 towards a purchase of a more energy efficient system.

2. You Can Rent or Own Your Tank

Some homeowners own their propane tank outright, while others rent it from their propane provider. Before you purchase a property, ask how the current owners operate. Remember – just because the past homeowners either rented or owned, doesn’t mean you have to follow the same path. Once you own the property, you are free to make a change.

3. Ask for Service Records, and Keep up with Maintenance

If you rent the tank, the company that owns it should be maintaining the equipment and keeping it hazard-free. On the other hand, if you own your tank, the maintenance is up to you. Before you say goodbye to the past owner, ask for maintenance records for owned propane tanks so you know its lifespan and when it needs its next professional service appointment.

Propane tanks, especially buried propane tanks, should have cathodic protection put on the propane tanks to help prevent against steel corrosion. Some companies recommend every three years for this to be performed. If you own the propane tank this is your responsibility (and we can help); if you rent the propane tank make sure your provider is doing their safety-focused due diligence. Always safety first with propane gas!

4. Get the Lowdown on Size

Propane tanks vary greatly in size, from as little as 120 gallons to over 1,000. Knowing size is important, since this allows you to calculate when you’ll need a refill and budget accordingly. The size of the tank most often depends on the number of appliances using the gas as well as the overall size of the home if using for heat and hot water.

Remember, all propane tanks are considered full at 80 percent capacity as a safety measure. With a larger tank, you’ll be able to purchase more propane at once, but this means you’ll pay more per fill-up as well since the volume will be greater.

5. Find Its Location

Propane tanks are located either above or below ground. If the tank is buried, make sure you know where it is in order to direct your energy company accordingly. While you’re at it, make sure you map out where the lines leading to the home are as well, especially if you’re planning on doing any renovations and/or use an outside landscaping company. This will help you avoid disaster!

Williams Energy prides itself on solid service, year after year, for 100 years. We’re committed to keeping your propane tank full, your home safe and your family warm.