It is possible that your propane contract is no longer suited to your usage or that you want to shop around for a better deal. The following guidelines should help you make the best choice given the many issues to consider when looking for a propane company that will enable you to reduce your propane expenses.
Finding a company with competitive pricing
Price will be an important factor if you are looking for a cheaper retailer. The propane market in the United States is not regulated so propane companies are free to set the price at which they sell propane to residential customers at a given time. Of course, it is in their interest to remain competitive but it means that the propane residential market price or spot price does not entirely determine what companies charge.
Factors affecting the prices retailers offer
Propane prices vary on a variety of factors such as supply and demand (the more people want propane, the higher the propane price), climate (propane is always more expensive in winter), and location compared to where the major supply sources are (Midwest and Gulf Coast). Given how many elements companies take into account when determining propane prices most dealers do not publish prices on their website. However, if you are shopping around for a cheaper propane retailer it is recommended that you call the propane companies to find out what they charge for propane and the services they offer.
Company prices, options, fees and discounts
Another factor influencing your decision when looking for a cheaper propane retailer will be options such as automatic delivery (where the propane company decides when to deliver propane, rather than you having to monitor the level in your propane tank and ordering a delivery when it falls below a certain level), fixed prices (where you negotiate a price for propane for a certain amount of time rather than depend on the fluctuating market price), budget plans (where you can spread payment for filling your propane tank over several months).
It is recommended that you call the alternative propane retailers you have selected and enquire as to the different fees they might charge and that are not always clear on company websites. For example, Suburban Propane, one of the largest propane suppliers in the United States, has a list of fees and charges: safety practices & training fee, tank rental fee, transportation fuel surcharge, restocking fee, tank pickup fee, minimum monthly purchase requirement, system leak test fee, reconnect fee, will call fee, appliances diagnostic fee, installation fee, early termination fee, special delivery fee, late charge, returned check fee. It is in your best interest to find our which would apply in your situation to have the best perspective of what alternatives you have to your current propane company.
When looking for a cheaper propane retailer you should also enquire as to whether they offer any discounts to new customers. For example: Do they offer a certain amount of free propane or propane at a discounted price? Does the company reward prompt payments or customer referrals? Ultimately, it is up to you to ask as many questions as possible and find the company that best suits your needs in terms of customer care, delivery options, maintenance, pricing, etc.
Choosing a cheaper propane retailer with high safety standards
Although it is a safe and highly regulated source of energy, propane is a flammable gas so safety should be your first consideration when selecting a different propane retailer. You should select a company that offers Gas Appliance System Checks (GAS Checks) or a recognized inspection program to inspect your propane appliance system and reduce leak risks. Similarly, ensure that the propane retailer you select has a 24-hour emergency service with trained and certified staff.
Checking on a propane company’s reputation
Choosing a reliable propane supplier is easier if you enquire about the company’s reputation. The Better Business Bureau places Amerigas at the top of the three largest propane companies (ahead of Suburban Propane and Ferrellgas). Depending on your location and needs, Propane One, United Propane Gas, Southern States Cooperative, Lakes Gas or Thompson Gas also have reputable reviews. Your Attorney General’s office should offer you more detailed information on a company’s business reputation in your area.
Selecting a cheaper propane retailer that is not too far from your home
Selecting a cheaper propane retailer also implies finding out how far the company’s storage facilities are to your home and where the company’s closest outlet would be. Distance makes a difference if you need propane delivered or if your propane appliance system needs maintenance sooner rather than later.
Propane tank ownership
If you own the propane tank on your property, changing propane suppliers is simple since you are free to shop around for the best deal and have propane delivered directly. On the other hand, if your current propane supply agreement includes leasing a company’s propane tank, you are not allowed to fill this tank with propane from any company other than your current supplier. Therefore, before selecting a new and cheaper propane retailer, you should check what your current supplier charges for tank removal and what alternative supplies offer in terms of tank installation prices.