Propane is stored in a large tank on your property. As such, it is delivered directly by a bobtail truck (that has its own propane tank to carry propane being delivered) and pumped into your propane tank at each delivery. This means propane companies require access to your property for each delivery. If they cannot access your property, they cannot deliver propane.
Therefore, propane companies often encourage propane users to ask them to deliver propane automatically – this is often referred to as automatic delivery. This implies that your propane company delivers propane directly without your needing to work out when you need it or even being at home when the delivery is made.
Including automatic delivery in quotes
The decision between calling in each propane delivery (also known as Will-Call) and automatic delivery is something you should consider as you choose your propane retailer and request quotes from different companies to decide on which company best suits your needs in terms of pricing, tanks, deliveries, services, safety and customer care.
Factors influencing propane prices
Concretely, propane companies will initially work out your propane usage. Consumption depends on several factors:
- How well insulated your home is: the better the insulation, the lower your propane usage.
- How cold your region is: the colder the climate, the higher propane usage will be.
- How many occupants the home has: the higher the number of occupants, the more propane the household will use.
- How many appliances run on propane: the more appliances use propane to function, the higher the volume of propane needed at each delivery.
National propane price trends between 2010 and 2013 winter seasons. (Source: US Energy Information Administration)
How automatic delivery works
On the basis of your usage estimate, propane companies will work out when you are likely to need propane, taking into account seasons and weather conditions. Unless you are on a fixed price plan, you will be charged the company’s market price for the day the delivery is planned.
Advantages of automatic delivery
Automatic delivery is convenient for propane users who do not want to keep monitoring their propane tank level or who have a secondary home they do not use regularly. Selecting automatic delivery also means you will never run out of propane (saving you the hassle of the mandatory leak test required at each gas flow interruption).
Advice regarding automatic delivery
However, automatic delivery means that you do not control your propane price since the daily propane price automatically applies. Therefore, just as will-call customers are encouraged to enquire regularly to plan propane deliveries at the best times in terms of pricing, automatic delivery propane customers should monitor their propane tank levels once in a while and enquire with their propane company to ensure they are being charged prices that are in-line with market trends.