Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Como Oil and Propane Offers Solutions to Help People Manage the Temporary Rise in Heating Fuel Costs

Duluth, MN – With heating fuel prices temporarily on the rise, Como Oil and Propane aims to help customers better understand what is causing the current situation and offers energy saving tips everyone can benefit from.

With this winter being one of the coldest on record, it is easy to understand the current increase in demand for heating fuel however, propane suppliers began seeing higher demand for propane early this fall due to chilly, wet weather.  The unseasonably cool temperatures increased the demand for propane used for crop drying all across the country.  This, followed by the recent Polar Vortex in January,  pushed the demand for propane to record levels. 


Nationally, we are hearing news of a propane shortage.  While the increased demand for propane has stressed our Country’s propane supply, Como urges customers remain confident given their 68 years of reliable performance.  “We are diligently monitoring our propane supply levels every day,” said Joe Stariha, Co-President and Chief Financial Officer of Como. “We have been in this business for 68 years and have a trusted network of over ten different supply points spanning the Midwest."

Often, with increased demand, comes an increase in fuel prices. “People may be assuming heating fuel companies are taking advantage of the severe cold and making more money when prices increase,” said Stariha.  “The truth is, while the wholesale price of propane has increased nearly 125%, our margins on propane have not increased and we are doing everything we can to ensure our customers receive the heating fuel they need at a fair price.”

While customers may understand the economics of supply and demand, many are still concerned with how the increased heating fuel prices will affect their household budget.

“This has been a difficult winter for everyone,” said Will Norman, Co-President and Chief Operations Officer of Como.  “We want to make sure our customers and the community at-large are aware of a few key energy saving tips they can use to help reduce their individual fuel demand.”

Helpful energy savings tips from Como Oil and Propane:
          Protect against drafts by caulking and weather-stripping around windows, doors and other openings such as ductwork, fans and vents.
          Keep vents and air returns clear of obstructions such as furniture, lint, dust, or pet hair.
          Turn your thermostat back 10 to 15 degrees before you leave the house for work each day.
          Check to make sure your furnace filters are clean. Clean filters will increase the efficiency of your furnace.  
          Turn down your water heater from the standard 120 degrees to 115 degrees. You can save more than 10% on your water-heating bill.
          Contact your heating fuel supplier to have your heating system inspected, cleaned and tested for efficiency and proper operation. A heating system that runs well is more efficient and will save you money.
          If you are considering replacing your heating system or water heater, buy the most efficient model available. Energy savings over the life of the equipment will easily justify the higher initial cost.

With the recent spike in propane demand, many may be wondering what the future of the propane industry looks like.  “The long-term price trend for propane is very stable,” said Stariha.  “The domestic supply of natural gas and oil, key ingredients in manufacturing propane, are at very sustainable levels. Spikes in propane demand, like the one we are experiencing, are usually temporary events and the long-term price trend for propane appears to be very reasonable for the foreseeable future.”

Founded in 1946 and celebrating 68 years of delivering a lot more than fuel, Como Oil and Propane is the largest regionally owned oil and propane delivery company.  Como serves more than 22,000 industrial, commercial and residential customers through nine local offices in Duluth, Barnum, Two Harbors, Grand Marais, Hibbing and Tower, Minnesota as well as Ashland, Cable and Minong, Wisconsin.

For more information, visit www.comooilandpropane.com.

Contact: Joe Stariha
Como Co-President & CFO
P: 218-722-6666
E: jstariha@comolp.com



Friday, December 6, 2013

Propane Safety and WINTER STORMS


Heavy snow, extreme cold, sleet and ice, and near-blinding blizzards may all be part of winter, but being unprepared for them shouldn’t be. Winter storms can cause extended power outages and hazardous travel conditions. Access to fuel, and emergency and medical services may be limited once a sever storm hits a region. Implementing a winter safety plan now is essential to help reduce your risk.

10 Things You Can Do to Keep Your Family Safe

If your home uses propane to generate heat or run appliances, there are a few simple steps you can take to keep your family safe and avoid potential dangers. These steps can also help you conserve fuel costs – maximizing the value of your energy dollar.

1.    Make sure you have an adequate propane supply. Discuss with your propane retailer the possibility of scheduling regular winter visits so you always have an adequate supply of propane in your tank. This will avoid running empty in times of heavy snowfall when roads may be inaccessible for delivery. 

Be sure to clear a path, free from snow and fallen branches, to your propane tank or oil fill pipes. Your delivery driver will greatly appreciate the help.

2. Mark the location of your tank with a flag, pole, or stake that is higher than the average snow cover depth for your location. If you already have markers, make sure they are planted firmly and highly visible. These markers will help you avoid plowing or shoveling rooftop snow on top of your tank. Should your tank become covered with snow, use a broom to clear it.

3. Make sure your heating system and appliances are running efficiently. Before the start of each heating season, have a qualified service technician inspect and service your appliances and propane system. This will ensure that your appliances are running as efficiently as possible, conserving fuel and saving dollars.

4.    Create an emergency preparedness plan and review it with everyone in your family. Post a list with contact information for your propane retailer and emergency services (fire department, etc.) along with instructions for turning off propane, electricity, and water. If you do need to turn off your propane, contact a service technician to inspect your propane system prior to turning it back on.

5. Prepare a family disaster supply kit
with several days worth of water and canned foods along with a can opener, extra clothes and blankets, flashlights, and batteries. Include a battery-powered NOAA weather radio so you can stay informed as conditions change. Make sure to keep rock salt, firewood, and snow-removal equipment accessible from inside.

6. Check your chimneys, flue pipes, vent connectors, and propane tank for damage, blockage, or debris caused by snow and ice. Use a broom rather than a shovel, and clear these areas frequently. This will help reduce the possibility of carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning due to blocked or damaged chimneys, flues, and vents.  Also, be sure to keep your regulator free from ice and snow.

7. Consider installing UL-listed propane gas detectors and Carbon Monoxide (CO) detectors. These detectors provide you with an additional measure of security. Be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions regarding installation, location, and maintenance.

8. After the storm passes and it is safe to do so, check the entire area for downed power lines, damaged gas lines, or damage to your propane tank. Immediately call your local utility company or propane retailer if any of these hazards exist. Do not attempt repairs yourself.

9. Never use a stove for space heating and never use outdoor propane appliances indoors or in enclosed areas, particularly in the event of power outage. Proper ventilation is necessary for their safe operation, and carbon monoxide (CO) fumes emitted can be lethal. Only use appliances indoors that are designed and approved for indoor use. Never store, or use a propane cylinder indoors or in enclosed areas.

10. Exercise sound judgment. As with any challenging situation, your composure during winter storms will ensure you don’t take unnecessary risks or create additional dangers to your family and home. Stay calm; use radios, television, and telephones to stay informed and connected. Remember, winter storms can last several days and roads may be inaccessible for fuel delivery. Conserve fuel by keeping thermostats down to 65 degrees during the day and 55 degrees at night, and close off any rooms that don’t need to be heated. If any questions arise, contact your propane retailer or local fire department.

Como wishes you and your family a warm and safe winter season.  Stay tuned for our next blog containing tips on how you can save money on your heating bills this year.



“Propane Safety and Winter Storms”. http://www.usepropane.com/