Propane can be an easy, green way to provide energy for anything from your pool heater to your backyard barbeque to your whole house. But we have seen many different propane prices in PA, sometimes even just from store to store or town to town. What exactly determines propane prices, and how can you get the best deal? Here are the five biggest factors:
- The market. One of the main things that impacts propane prices is propane production around the world. Propane is typically found mixed in with natural gas deposits, and new deposits that are found can cause prices to fall while increased demand can cause prices to rise. We find that the best PA propane prices come from companies that adjust their rates according to the market—giving you a lower price when the market is low, and only raising your price if their own cost goes up. This allows them to give you lower rates much of the time, whereas “fixed price” propane companies always have to charge you as if the market is high, to cover their costs.
- The size of tank you use. This is the biggest factor in your month-to-month propane costs. Another way to put this is, “How much propane do you use?” If you buy bigger tanks or go through propane more quickly, you will pay more. However, even two households using the same amount of propane will pay different prices if they use different tank sizes. Generally, the larger the tank you use, the less you’ll pay per gallon of propane. If you’re torn between two sizes, go with the larger of the two.
- Whether it’s delivered or not. For low to moderate propane usage, it may make more fiscal sense to drive in to a filling station rather than get at-home delivery. Even 100 pound tanks are relatively easy to move to a vehicle and bring in for refilling, and if you combine the trip with a weekly grocery run you won’t use extra gas. Refilling your own tank means no delivery fees.
- Whether you own or lease the tank. For larger tanks, you can potentially save money if you own your own tank. However, be aware of two things: first, we recommend this only for individuals who understand propane tank maintenance, and secondly, there is an upfront cost to buying your own tank, which may pay off in the long run and you keep your tank in good condition. If you’d rather avoid the hassle, you can simply rent/lease a tank (often at no cost to you).
- Discounts. A good propane dealer will give discounts to long-term customers, often with a multi-year agreement. This should just mean you agree to buy your propane from them—it shouldn’t lock you into a set price (see #1, above!).