Friday, February 7, 2014

In the Red Zone

Everything I know about propane I have learned from Hank Hill of King of the Hill animated sitcom fame. Hank sells propane and propane accessories at the fictional Strickland Propane. Hank believes that selling propane through honesty and hard work is what life is all about.

We have a 250-gallon propane tank buried beside the cottage that fuels our stove/oven, our fireplace starter and our propane stove in the study. Oh, and it also fuels our generator. We chose to use propane as it is considered a clean, nontoxic fuel that doesn't contamine aquaifers or soil. At least that is what we were told. We are not alone, more than 12.6 million households use it – many of them in rural locations.

We have only had to have our tank refilled once or twice since we moved here three years ago. We've been watching the guage on tank dip lower and lower, while the price of propane inches higher and higher, up from $2.45 a gallon at the end of December to $3.85 as of last Monday. We were waiting to see if the price would come down before ordering a tankload.

Last Tuesday night an ice storm took down power lines and caused us to lose electricity. Not to worry, we have a partial house generator that automatically kicks on and fuels our refrigerator and freezer, allows us to keep a few lights on in our living area, and fuels the pump on for our geothermal heat/cooling system. But the generator eats up lots of propane.

Fortunately, we regained power a few hours later, but a check of our meter revealed that we were down in the "red zone," with only about 18 percent left of propane in our tank. I called today and was told that our local propane company was swamped, but they would be by the first week in March to refill our tank. We should have enough to last until them, assuming we don't lose electricity again. We've got our fingers crossed. Where is Hank Hill when I need him most?

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