Households should be buying propane now for the coming winter


It's only July, but those who use propane to heat their homes are going to want to start buying it now.

After brutally cold temperatures this past winter, there was a propane shortage across the state, which lead to some extreme price hikes.

The problem was so bad Governor Walker wrote to President Obama asking for help.

The shortage is far from over.

It's easy to remember how hard last winter was -- especially if you were trying to stay warm from propane gas.

"People were concerned about the price, and they were concerned they wouldn't get the propane they needed," said Sandy Chalmers the Administrator in the state Division of Trade and Consumer Protection.

If you don't want to be reminded this coming winter, now's the time to prepare.

"As a whole for propane in the Midwest, it's still at lower levels compared to averages," said Adam DeLawyer the Executive Vice President for Energy at Landmark Services Cooperative.

The inventory isn't as bad as last February, but DeLawyer says fill up your tank sooner rather than later.

"It allows the industry to fill up more tanks, which causes less of a supply crunch when everybody needs it," said DeLawyer.

If everyone fills up their tank before winter hits, there will be more room in the tanks retailers, like Landmark, store their propane this winter.

To prepare yourself from another shortage, and to save money, get on a contract. It comes with a word of caution, the fine print is what kept some families from getting the heat they needed.

Some contracts allow you to lock in a price.

"They won't have something happen like last year where the prices spiked. They'll have the same price throughout the winter," said DeLawyer.

"Just make sure you read the contract and understand it," said Chalmers.

"Whether you're supposed to call when you want to fill or whether they do that on an automatic basis."

Find what fits for your family. Ask about filling up on weekends or what happens if there is short supply. That's where many lost money and heat when temps dropped last winter.

"Last year a lot of suppliers ran out of propane, voided contracts," said DeLawyer.

The best way to keep the heat in your home and not in your temper is to find someone you trust.

"Make sure you're getting propane from a supplier you trust and are comfortable working with," said DeLawyer.

The Department of Trade and Consumer Protection has put out some information to help you figure out your propane needs for the winter. and those questions you should be asking your supplier at datcp.wi.gov


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