Moving into a new home can be a daunting task. This is all the more true if the energy source is different to that of the previous house. With propane, however, there is no need for concern.
Propane appliances work exactly like appliances powered by other sources of energy such as heating oil, natural gas or electricity. The only difference is that your energy, propane (liquefied petroleum gas – or LPG), is stored outside your house, on your property in a propane tank. Your propane company will fill it when you need more propane.
Renting a house with a propane tank
Propane tanks are an integral part of the property so your propane supply might be included in your rent. Check with your landlord to find out if this is the case and, if it is, whether you are responsible for ordering your own propane (and check your propane tank level) or on automatic delivery (where the propane company keeps tabs of when to fill your tank).
If propane supply is not included in your lease you should check whether the tank is your landlord’s or a company. If it is your landlord’s, you should be able to choose a propane company provided you have his or her agreement. If the tank is owned by a propane company you will have to get your propane from that company (it is illegal to fill a company’s tank with propane from another retailer). There is more on tenants and propane tanks here.
Buying a house with a propane tank
Start by checking whether the tank on your new property belongs to a specific company. Since it is illegal to fill a company’s rented propane tank with another supplier’s propane, if the tank is rented you will have to use the company that owns it or have it removed before getting propane from another dealer.
If the tank came with the house and is no company’s property (for example, if it belonged to the person from whom you purchased the house), you are free to choose the company you want to supply you with propane. Among other things, when choosing a propane company you might ask about what they charge for propane, what additional costs exist and what delivery options they offer.
You could also want to check safety standards, contact your local regulatory agency for information about compliance and safety, check whether the company is a member of the National Propane Gas Association or your state propane gas association, find out about company policies (for example, out of gas procedures) and check with the Better Business Bureau for company history and reputation.
Buying a house without a propane tank but where you would like to have propane
If you buy a house without a propane installation but want propane as a source of energy (for indoor heating, for example), you will first need to decide whether to buy or rent a tank. In a nutshell, buying a propane tank means you are free to choose your propane where it is cheapest whenever you need it but have to pay for the tank and maintenance. Renting a tank ties you to a supplier’s propane for the duration of your contract but the tank is almost free and your installation maintenance is included. This is particularly interesting if you are concerned about safety, though unless you decide to do it yourself (not recommended) people whom you call for installation maintenance are the required safety expertise too.
Again, whether you buy or rent a propane tank, you will have to choose a propane company. Our recommendation is to spend time shopping for the best combination in terms of price, services, safety and reputation. For more information on choosing a propane company, look at our Propane Companies section.