Saturday, April 10, 2010

Propane usage

One of the fuels I use is propane. Natural gas is usually a better deal -where it's available. It's not an option out here in the woods.

Twenty years ago the propane delivery guy used to top off the tank once a month. We were running a propane refrigerator, stove, and a hot water heater. A couple years later we took in my wife's friend and her daughter for what turned out to be 9 months. The friend could not believe we didn't have a dryer. All our clothes were dried on a clothesline, or in bad weather, on a wooden dowel drying rack. She bought us a propane dryer.

Over the years, the refrigerator failed. It was replaced by a small electric one. The propane water heater was replaced by a mix of water heating methods -solar, wood, and some electric. During the heating months, many meals are now cooked on the woodstove. I even bake bread using wood fuel. The dryer is still used, but not nearly as much.

Currently the propane tank is filled once a year. It could easily go two or three years, but I like to keep a reserve. In a year we use less than what we use to use in a month.

To be fair, some of the burden has been taken up by using more grid electric. The refrigerator situation will change. Not quite sure exactly which way I'm going to go on that. It's possible to super insulate the current moderately sized refrigerator. Also tempted to super insulate an even smaller refrigerator. Even thinking of building a spring house over the spring that feed my well.
The water heating mix will go completely to solar and wood. The alternative water heating methods have proven themselves and will be expanded. Moving the solar water bulk tank to a sunnier location should help. Another thing we plan on doing is to work around the sun. Long hot baths will be saved for sunny days. When solar energy is scant, short showers will have to do. Americans are not used to working around the weather, but I'm sure we can do it.

Laundry will be hung almost all the time. Dryer use will be saved for those rare cases when we just can't wait. The next time the dryer breaks, I may just get rid of it instead of repairing it.

There was a rumor two years ago that propane might become unavailable. So far it's been just that: a rumor. However, it did move me away from the fuel.

One bonus, I no longer have to shovel a path to the propane tank. That used to be a lot work for a once a month visit. Now that it's a once a year visit, I call for refills during the summer.

As things stand, I can currently get by without any propane use at all. It would be uncomfortable at times. My goal is to get off propane, but do it comfortably.



  1. I agree. The last propane I bought here in Mississippi(about a month ago) was $3.50 a gallon!

  2. I don't even know what it's going for around here this year.