What to know when switching propane companies
Switching propane companies shouldn’t be difficult. A couple of phone calls, schedule an appointment and voilà, new propane company! Unfortunately, the big internationally corporate giants don’t play by the same rules as your local, family owned propane suppliers. The big guys make up the rules as they go along.
One of the oldest tricks in the book: A customer calls propane company 1 to let them know they are going to discontinue service. They are switching to propane company 2. Company 1 – a super big greedy international propane corporation – decides to FILL YOUR TANK the day you call to say, “please stop deliveries”. They say you didn’t give enough notice, the delivery order was already dispatched, big pump out fee, etc. The easiest way to prevent this is to mark the tank with a big sign and take photos as proof in-case they filled it anyway.
Many consumers stay with their current propane supplier simply out of the ‘unknowns’ with how-to change regardless of how much that company may be overcharging or how bad their service has become.
We’ve also seen where some of the big Wall Street owned national propane corporations have scare tactics and hidden fees they want to charge if a customer attempts to change providers. If you’re looking to possibly change companies – here are some frequently asked questions:
Q: Is changing to Combined Energy Services a simple process?
A: Yes. It all starts with a call to our customer service reps who may be able to set it all up on the phone or we can have a field customer service / sales rep stop by your property for a no-obligation consultation. Very often it’s easier to have a rep look to see what you currently have, what we can do and any recommended changes. We make it all very simple and painless!
Q: My current tank belongs to another supplier. Does CES provide loaned tanks or do I have to buy one?
A: Yes! We have tanks of every size and even offer a variety of colors to choose from. No, we do not sell tanks. Find out why we prefer to lease tanks by reading this article.
Q: I have a buried propane tank owned by another supplier; can I still change to CES?
A: Certainly! We lease buried propane tanks (500 & 1000 gal common sizes) for $1 per year when used for central heating. We swap out your existing tank from another supplier at no cost to you. CES has our own fleet of excavation equipment and your new tank will be protected from corrosion with new sacrificial magnesium anode bags as required by code.
Q: What does it cost to change to CES?
A: Nothing. We install our loaned tank at no cost and typically provide the pressure regulator on the tank and any outside connections. If you’re heating with propane, we often can install the tank up to 100 feet from your home at no cost using buried plastic propane piping that will never deteriorate, the same that’s used for natural propane.
Q: Do I need to wait until my propane tank is empty before changing to CES?
A: Normally no. Depending on the jurisdiction we’re able to pump your propane over from the existing tank into our newly installed one. Some of propane companies have a “cancellation fee” or “tank pump out fee” for any propane remaining in your old tank so it’s best to consult with one of our sales professionals to see how best we can assist you. The one thing we’ve learned is make sure you put a big sign inside the tank lid of your old tank if you don’t want a refill since it’s a common trick for the super-big nationwide companies to immediately FILL YOUR TANK the day you call to say stop deliveries. It’s often a tactic to keep you as a customer by adding expense to the switch. If you’re making a move – put a sign under the lid and even take a photo of it. This way if they come and fill it, you don’t have to pay for the propane and they then must remove a full tank.
Q: Does CES have repair service for my propane burning appliances & heating system and are they available after hours?
A: Absolutely! Our service staff is available 24/7 so any time you have a problem we’re just a phone call away any time night or day!
Q: How can I be sure you’re not just like the other companies and I’m going to hate you as well?
A: This is the great part about dealing with a local, family owned & operated company. We’ve been servicing propane customers in the region since 1968 and have thousands of satisfied, long time customers. To read some of what our customers have to say -click HERE.
To learn more about becoming a CES customer, to find out what we offer, pricing plans and what makes us different from all the competition, feel free to give us a call at 800-874-1975 or complete the form below.
Let’s start with what automatic delivery entails. When you sign up for automatic delivery, Combined Energy Services monitors your fuel consumption. We use a three-point system to determine when you need fuel. This isn’t something arbitrary. We don’t just stop by when we’re in the neighborhood or wait until fuel prices are the highest, hoping that you’ll be empty. A lot of planning goes into automatically scheduling your delivery.
Step #1 – Heating Fuel Usage History
Your individual fuel consumption plays prominently in our automatic delivery calculation. If we don’t have a household history, we may look at a previous resident’s consumption if that information is available.
We also consider how the fuel is being used. Is it for heat or do you also use it for water heating? Maybe you have a propane stove or a space heater too. What temperature do you like to keep the home? A toasty 74°F may cost more than a chilly 62°F. How well your home is insulated, dictates your home’s heat loss, and this is HUGE in the amount of heating fuel you are going to burn.
Step #2 – Heating Degree Days
CES monitors heating degree days. What are heating degree days? They are the difference between the daily temperature mean – the high temperature plus the low temperature divided by two – and 65°F. If the temperature mean is below 65°F, you subtract the mean from 65 and the result is heating degree days.
Calculate the mean
- Daily high temperature is 42 and the low is 28.
- 42 + 28 = 70
- 70/2 = 35 is the mean daily temperature
Calculate the heating degree days
- 65 – 35 = 30 heating degree days
Heating degree days are calculated for each day of the month and then added together for the monthly total. Adding these days up is a good predictor of what your heating bills will be. The higher the degree days, the higher the bill and vice versa.
According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), the average number of heating degree days for our tri-state region is 5,910. These days are typically distributed in a bell curve shape over the months of September through April, with January and February typically being the coldest months. It’s during these months that you will also see your highest heating bills.
Step #3 – K-Factor
K-what? Yes, K-Factor! K-Factors are calculated by taking the amount of degree days between deliveries divided by the amount of fuel delivered. This is your “miles per gallon” for your home. The higher the K-Factor, the longer you can go between deliveries. The lower the K-Factor, the more often you need deliveries.
Here’s an example:
If 1,000-degree days are between deliveries and you use 200 gallons of fuel, your K-Factor would be 1,000/200 = 5. Using the example degree days from above of 30-degree days, you would divide 30 by 5 and the resulting 6 gallons is what you would use for a day with 30-degree days.
Ideally, we would have several deliveries to determine an accurate K-Factory portrayal. It’s why initially, we do manual checks and adjust as necessary. This is also why when there are changes in your consumption (i.e. A lot of company or unseasonably cold/warm) that your K-Factor might need to be adjusted.
So, after reading all that goes into determining an automatic delivery plan for your home or business, what is holding you back from enrolling in automatic delivery? Based upon everything above, you will need heating fuel anyway. Take one more thing off your worry list and let us plan your deliveries. Not only will you avoid fees associated with a run-out, but you will also become a priority delivery during bad weather.
Sign up today! Call us at 800-874-1975. Have your current fuel gauge reading available for our customer service representatives. They will determine when you need a delivery and place your account on automatic delivery moving forward.
*Please note: Automatic delivery is not fail-safe and is NOT a guarantee that you will never run out of fuel. Many factors come into your home’s energy consumption. If you suspect that your consumption is higher than normal, check your gauge. If necessary, call the office and arrange for a delivery.
Regardless of how you use propane in your home, deciding which propane supplier is the best for you, your home heating needs and budget, can be difficult. It’s important to find a supplier that provides the best value for you along with reliable deliveries and professional service. The following tips will help you evaluate and compare which propane supplier is the best fit for you.
Always compare the following when researching a new propane supplier:
- Assess the product and service options to see if they meet your needs;
- Check pricing plans for options and flexibility that work within your budget;
- Weigh delivery options to decide what is the best for you;
- Evaluate their payment options. Are online and phone apps available for your convenience?
- Do they have a standard of safety in delivery and operations? The welfare of you and your family is paramount.
Familiarizing yourself with service and product offerings that your local propane providers offer is key to selecting your best choice. These are some of the more common services and products offered:
- Propane delivery and fill-up
- Emergency service and repairs
- Installation of indoor and/or outdoor appliances
- Purchase or rental of propane equipment, including propane storage tanks
- Heating systems – Furnaces or Boilers
- Water heating systems – Storage or Tankless
- Fireplaces & log inserts
- Generator fuel tank sizing & fuel
Many propane companies offer two different propane delivery options and you need to make sure which is best for you.
- Automatic delivery – Propane deliveries that keep your propane tank or tanks full regularly based on your estimated propane usage, degree days and K-Factor.
- Will Call deliveries – You call your propane company when you need a delivery, which works best if you like to monitor your own propane usage. Be aware that restrictions can apply with this option. It could be a minimum gallon amount or what your tank gauge reads.
Always ask any potential propane supplier the following questions about charges and compare supplier prices among different companies.
- Storage Tank Installation Fees
- Do they have a fee for installing and setting up a new tank?
- What are the monthly lease or rental fees, if you do not own your own tank?
- Do they sell propane tanks?
- Are there minimum monthly/yearly purchase requirements? If the answer is “yes,” do you meet the minimum?
- If the answer is “no,” what are your options?
- Is there a cost for propane deliveries? Or fees for transporting propane? If suppliers charge these fees, they usually involve the number and volume (gallons) of propane fuel you need at deliveries.
- Are there fees for disconnecting and/or tank removal, if you change suppliers or fuel type? Many propane suppliers have personnel costs for service closeouts and removing propane tanks without no possibility of continuing cash flow from soon-to-be formerly active customers.
- Are there any fees if you have a fixed-term contract with your supplier and terminate it early? And specifically, what actions may lead to these fees? Contract language should specify these charges, which are now pretty much standard charges for most propane delivery firms.
- Ask about any company policies such as out of gas procedures, and what fees are attached.
Always make sure that you have a propane supplier who is always ready and able to be there when you need them – quickly! At least ask these questions:
- Do they provide 24/7 customer service and support?
- Will you talk to a live customer service representative when you call, whatever the time?
- Do they offer emergency services after hours?
- What service limitations, if any, exist for emergencies, such as gas leaks, heating system repairs, and water heating systems?
- Evaluate Safety Records and Customer Satisfaction.
- Is your propane company local? Do they have the facilities to deliver during a storm or other emergency?
Purchasing Propane Checklist:
- Always carefully read any written contract from a propane company. You both need to understand any/all products and services they may offer.
- It is critical to consider pricing, delivery and service commitments that you have agreed to with any propane company. If you think that you have a good deal with your provider, that won’t matter when they cannot be there for you on the coldest night of the year.
- Try to find a propane supplier with trusted, reliable service and, if possible, automatic delivery service.
Don’t consider just pricing, but delivery and service commitments. This is probably the most important consideration, whether or not your provider is “cheap” won’t matter much when they fail to deliver on a cold winter’s night.
When you’re looking for a trusted, local, family owned propane gas service provider, Call CES @ 800-874-1975 now to ask any questions or submit the form below.
Don’t visit your vacation home in the Catskills, Poconos or Northern New Jersey often in the winter? Too busy to keep an eye on your propane guage? Afraid you’re going to run out of propane and have your pipes freeze? We have several options that can help alleviate your stress and make you winter visits more relaxing.
First and foremost: SIGN UP FOR AUTOMATIC DELIVERY! With auto delivery, CES takes on the responsibility of making sure your tank stays full. We pay attention to degree days and schedule deliveries at the optimal fill time when your tank is at 30%.
Second – DOWNLOAD THE SMART PHONE APP! With both Apple & Android applications, the CES app is a great way to manage your account. You can view the estimated amount remaining in your tank, look at historical data (both payments & deliveries) and pay your bill. All with just a few swipes on the phone. Get the app from the Apple Store or the Google Play Store. You do need to know your account number to register (Located on a delivery receipt or bill). To use the app to pay your bill, you will also need to set up a billing profile. Don’t forget you can also use our website and both the app & the website use the same login credentials.
Finally – CONSIDER A REMOTE TANK MONITOR! CES offers our customers that heat with propane a cellular monitor that tells us how much propane is in your tank all times. Therefore, there’s no need to have to worry about calling for gas again. These monitors are especially great for weekend homes and those with sporadic heating schedules. Effectively eliminating the fear of running out of gas.
The tank monitor is available for FREE if you use 600 gallons of propane per year. Otherwise, there is a $139/year fee. Look at this as $11.58 per month for peace of mind. Frozen pipes caused by running out of propane and the cost of repairing the damage could go well into the thousands of dollars. For less than 40 cents per day, you can take that worry off your plate.
Contact any Combined Energy Services office and find out how you can take advantage of our cutting-edge technology. CES moving forward, remembering our history – 50+ years of serving local families & businesses. A trusted community partner.
Introducing the Combined Energy Services App!
Bringing Account Management Directly to Your Finger Tips
The Combined Energy Services App shares everything you need to stay on top of your CES account and be a smart energy consumer. Pay your bill with ease, monitor your deliveries, and more, all with a few simple swipes. Simply download the app and create your account. You will need your account number, so have a bill or delivery ticket handy. When the registration is completed, you will then have access to all of your billing and delivery information. The log in you create can also be used on your computer via our website.
Take care of your propane or home heating oil account from anywhere.
- Pay your bill
- View billing & payment history
- Tank info & estimated tank level
- Delivery history
- Add payment methods
- Manage multiple accounts
- Manage alerts
Download the CES app on the Apple Store or Google Play Store: