There are three main reasons a homeowner might want to have a propane tank emptied: if you are switching propane companies, if you are moving house or if you no longer wish to use propane. Whatever the reason, you will need to terminate your propane supply agreement.
Therefore, your first task is to check what your propane supply agreement says about termination or early termination, depending on what your situation is. Unless specified otherwise, most propane companies require 30 days notice to terminate a propane contract.
Cost of draining a propane tank
Propane is not allowed to be transported in a container until the tank propane level is 5% or below. If this is the case, a propane company is likely to charge a fee for administrative and labor costs associated to draining the tank. If the tank gauge level is above 5%, a propane company will probably charge a pump out (also called draining) fee at a certain price per gallon of propane removed from the tank.
On top of this, if your account is less than a year old you will not be reimbursed for the propane you have not used. If your propane supply agreement is more than a year old you will be reimbursed at the wholesale price. The propane wholesale price ($0.923 per gallon in November 2012) is significantly lower than the residential propane price ($2.409 per gallon in November 2012).
Lastly, if you have leased a propane tank, your propane dealer will charge you a tank pickup fee to cover further administrative costs.
Advice on emptying a propane tank
If you are moving but owned a propane tank, you might consider not only selling the propane tank as part of your property but also include leftover propane. For example, you could sell propane left in your tank at the price your propane company charged you or at a price you have negotiated with your successor. This will save you the costs associated with emptying a propane tank.
Also, if you are wondering whether to stop using propane as a source of energy, it is important to note that apart from natural gas, propane remains one of the cheapest and cleanest sources of energy on the United States market.
Certainly, propane price per gallon differs significantly depending on season, usage and location. It is therefore up to you to compare quotes from different companies when initially choosing a dealer and ensure you have the best package in terms of price, safety and customer care.