If you are like most Americans you have probably noticed the escalating price of gasoline at the pumps. At the close of trading today, oil prices tapped out at $112.29 a barrel. Of course the high price of oil is directly affecting the price you pay at the pumps. Because we as a nation drive so much, every time you pas a filling station it is a constant reminder.
But oil is not just used to make gasoline. Propane is heavily dependent on oil because it is a by-product of natural gas processing and petroleum refining. So as you are seeing now, when the price of oil goes up, gasoline prices go up. The price of propane invariably goes up as well. But as a savvy tailgater you need to understand this and be aware of the warning signs you could be getting cheated next time you buy propane.
Did anyone remember back in Spring of 2008 when oil skyrocketed to close to $140 a barrel? Gas prices went through the roof and it was the first time in American history we were paying more than $4 a gallon. Strangely, propane prices were unaffected…. or so we thought. It came out in news media reports that many of the larger propane companies were “short filling” their propane tanks in order to keep consumer prices the same.
Instead of filling the tank with 18 pounds of Liquid Propane Gas (LPG) and selling it for $45 at one of those propane tank exchange places, they would fill it to 14 or 15 pounds and sell it for the same price. There was no news conference or press release on this tactic. They were just doing it without informing the consumer so as to still keep their profit margin. In all honesty, when you pick up a propane tank at an exchange place, can you really tell if the tank is short three pounds? Since the tanks are steel and painted white, there is no telling how much LPG they put in there. The consumer just had to trust they were getting a full tank and were not getting screwed by the big propane companies. We shared this video back in 2009 and although it a few years old, it still has some great information in it.
For those of you tailgaters who prefer to use propane in your grills while tailgating because of the speed, control and convenience over charcoal, you need to listen up. Now that oil is over $100 a barrel and continues to go higher each day, that is directly affecting the price of propane.
Back on March 25th, U-Haul Propane sent out this tweet on Twitter stating that the price of propane is still high and they had to increase their retail price to $2.89. Give it up to the U-Haul Propane people for being honest and forthright about what is really going on out there in the real world.
Whether the larger propane exchange companies out there want you to realize it or not, they are paying more for their propane right now. Of course they aren’t going to take this price hike on the chin all by themselves. No way. They are going to pass that along to you, the consumer. So here is what you need to do to fight back.
DO NOT go to the propane exchange places at your local gas station, convenience store or home improvement store. More than likely they are back to short filling these tanks yet the prices are the same as they were a year ago. Unless you like get cheated and paying more for less, avoid propane exchanges like a psychotic ex-girlfriend with a restraining order.
DO get your propane tanks refilled at a filling station. I take mine to a Chevron station that is around the corner from my house and many gas stations refill propane. By getting your LPG cylinders refilled, you will be paying for exactly what they put in the tank and not 25% of empty space in the tank.
DO get your propane tanks refilled now. Even though propane re-fillers have had to adjust their prices in response to rising oil commodity prices, the price of propane is still relatively low compared to gasoline prices. More than likely, the price of propane will get adjusted again because oil prices are still going up and up. Rather than put off refilling your tanks until closer to football season, you may save yourself some cash by doing it early. You’ll probably get a better price today rather than in four months. A bonus is that by doing it now, that is one less thing you have to do when football season arrives. It is not like propane will expire or lose its potency if it sits in your cylinder for a few months.
DO get some sort of measuring device that will alert you to when you are almost out of propane. Whether it be the Gas Watch meter, the Propane Gas-Minder or even the Clear View LPG Tank which allows to you see through the tank walls and see the propane sloshing around inside, these items will help you know when you are low on gas. You don’t want to refill unnecessarily and prematurely and you also do not want to run out half way through cooking your meal.
There is really nothing we can do about rising oil prices other than change the types of cars we drive. The same is true for propane. We can’t control the price of propane but we surely can change the way in which we buy it. The price may be going up but at least you know you are getting what you paid for.