Changing From Natural Gas Service to Propane Service
Many rural community residents enjoy living 'out in the sticks'. Among the benefits, rural homeowners typically enjoy natural scenery, living away from common noises of the city, and living near wildlife and the tranquility of nature.
At the same time, rural community dwellers may face a number of challenges. For example, rural residents, may encounter an occasional bear stopping by to raid the garbage can for lunch, being at a higher risk for fire damage, higher expenses tied to gasoline for longer commutes to their place of employment....and home heating costs.
While rural residents typically have multiple options for home heating, many times primary heat options are narrowed down to heating electricity or propane gas. Many times the primary heating fuel systems are supplemented by firewood, wood pellet and other less common options.
Many folks that have sold a home in the city and relocated to a rural community have moved away from natural gas lines. Therefore, if the preferred method of heating is gas, propane is the likely replacement for city natural gas heating.
Propane service can be quite different than natural gas service. In most cases, propane is delivered by supplier truck and is stored onsite in a propane tank near the home structure. Natural gas is typically transported via underground gas lines from the natural gas plant to your home.
Between these two enegy sources, propane was in the headlines in many times during the past winter due to a variety of reasons. Propane price spikes, propane inventory shortages, export issues that strain domestic supply, sudden absorption of propane fuel used in the agricultural industry due to crop drying during processes during harvest season that also impact available inventory for home heating...among other issues.
If home heating with propane is subject to the challenges outlined above, will these factors impact the demand for rural homes that typically use propane for primary home heating in the future. Will propane become a fuel that is less desirable as a primary home heating source in the future? That is a key question moving forward. While natural gas lines extend to some unserviced communities over time, not all homes can be serviced by natural gas in a cost effective manner in the future.
There are also other considerations for someone considering a purchase of a propane fueled home in a rural community. Propane suppliers typically do not openly post current propane prices to make it easy for customers to compare current propane pricing among multiple suppliers. In many cases, without a propane price protection agreement, a propane consumer does not have a clue regarding his or her propane price per gallon until AFTER a supplier has delivered the propane. This can be a recipe for propane price gouging since most consumers may be unaware of his or her propane price until AFTER a delivery has arrived.
When someone is considering a move to a rural community in the future, it is important to consider these questions. At minimum, a homeowner would be wise to factor in some additional costs associated with adding alternative heating fuels to reduce reliance on propane as a primary home heating source.