Lakes Gas Blog

Fall is here!

The leaves are changing colors, football season is in full swing, and shorts and tank tops are being replaced by jeans and hooded sweatshirts.

The cooler temperatures will also inspire you to turn on your propane-powered furnace for the first time in months.
But wait!

Before you flip that switch, have your furnace and propane tanks checked. Unused over the summer, those devices could have sustained damaged without your knowledge. And damage can lead to gas or propane leaks, which could be deadly. 

How can you tell if there’s a gas or propane leak? Here are a couple of clues:

  1. You detect a smell of rotten eggs, skunk or dead animal. If you can’t find the source of an odd smell, call your furnace or propane service technician and have your equipment examined. If you smoke or have a cold, you may not immediately smell the gas. Sometimes the odor of propane can fade due to a rusted tank or the absorption of odor into building materials, fabrics, or soil (in underground leaks).
  2. You hear a hissing noise near a gas appliance or propane tank.

A propane gas detector installed in your home will notify you of a leak without any guesswork, so it’s a good idea to get one – especially at this time of year.

If you do find a leak, turn off the gas or propane, leave the house and call 9-1-1. Then, contact Lakes Gas to perform an inspection of your propane tanks before you return to your home. All leaks should be treated as serious, no matter how small. What may seem like overreacting might save your life.

Thunderstorms are generally associated with the spring and summer months, but warmer fall weather also can bring more frequent thunderstorms. Keep these tips in mind to ensure your safety around propane before, during and after thunderstorms. 

Preparation: Before a storm 

Use Your Nose: Propane has a very specific, unpleasant smell, reminiscent of a skunk or rotten eggs. Knowing the smell can help you detect potentially dangerous leaks that could worsen when a tank is damaged by a thunderstorm or other event. 

Have a Plan: Make sure you know how to turn off the gas and do so if you choose to evacuate your home. Thunderstorms could damage your propane tanks, resulting in leaks that could lead to combustion if the supply of gas or propane is not cut off.

During a storm: What to do 

Stay Safe: If you can, get inside. Stay as far away as you can from power lines and metal objects, including your propane tank. These objects conduct electricity and can be extremely dangerous during a thunderstorm. If shelter is not available, get to a low-lying, open area and avoid trees, poles and other potential electricity conductors. 

After a storm 

Inspect: Carefully inspect your home and the area around it for potential dangers. Storms can bring high winds, hail and downed trees and power lines — all of which could damage your outdoor propane tank. After a storm, check your tank and propane-powered appliances for signs of damage or exposure to water that could create a fire hazard. If it is dark, do not use candles to evaluate the area. The flame could ignite leaked propane. A propane gas detector will alert you if there’s a leak so you can take action without relying solely on your sense of smell.

If your propane tank or gas line appears to be damaged, do not touch it. Contact Lakes Gas or your energy supplier immediately. Our technicians will perform a complete inspection of your propane system and test for leaks. Do not use your propane-powered appliances until this inspection is completed. If you do smell gas, follow these tips

If it at any time you suspect a gas or propane leak, leave your house and go to a hotel or family member’s home. Do not return until your propane retailer, emergency responder or qualified service technician has deemed your house clear for reentry. When a gas or propane leak is suspected, it’s important that you and your family are safely away from your home until all risk has been eliminated.

If you run a landscaping contract business, there’s no doubt your lawnmowers get a lot of use over the summer. The high price of those pieces of equipment might stop you from replacing them when they fall into disrepair.

What if you were paid $1,000 for each new mower you bought? Would you update your fleet, then?

It’s not theoretical: The Propane Education & Research Council is offering $1 million in incentives for landscape contractors to update their lawnmowers to models that use propane. The program runs through the end of the year.
You can receive $1,000 for each new propane-powered commercial mower you buy, and $500 for each commercial mower you convert to run on propane. There is a limit of 25 mowers for each applicant, but they can be a combination of new purchases and conversions.

The program, originally launched in 2012, fulfilled 300 incentives before it was extended in January.

Not all mowers are covered. They must meet certain guidelines to be eligible. New and converted mowers must have a 36- to 72-inch cutting deck, and converted mowers must have fewer than 250 hours of operation. Conversion kits also must meet Environmental Protection Agency emissions requirements.

If your equipment qualifies, you won’t just receive an incentive; you’ll continue to save money just from owning the mowers. Propane is less expensive than gasoline, and propane mowers are generally easier and quicker to fill.
For more information, and to apply, go to http://www.autogasusa.org/mower-incentive/.

Rising temperatures, an increase in 100-degree days across the country, droughts, “super storms” and other severe weather last year raised the debate about pollution and its effect on climate change.

In June 2013 , the White House released President Obama’s “Climate Action Plan,” to cut carbon pollution, and calls for sweeping expansions to renewable and clean energy use, including natural gas. It also includes incentives for use of alternative fuels.

Though propane use was not specifically outlined in the plan, the National Propane Gas Association released a statement following the plan’s debut that outlined propane’s standing as a clean gas and why it should be considered as a critical tool to help lessen reliance on foreign and less energy-efficient fuels. Here are some of the highlights:

Propane is:

  • Derived from natural gas
  • Clean
  • Made in the United States
  • Readily available in every state
  • The world’s most used alternative fuel, with more than 9 billion gallons sold in the United States in 2011.

Propane also lessens greenhouse gas emissions by 64 and 52 percent respectively when compared to electricity. That’s an easy way for many to go green.

For more information on propane and the Climate Action Plan, go to http://www.npga.org/i4a/pages/index.cfm?pageid=1840.

It’s summer, and that means grill season. Most barbecue fans line up in one of two factions: The propane proponents and the champions of charcoal. If you’re undecided on which type of grill is best, consider several reasons to choose propane.

  • Ease of use: Anyone who’s tried to light a charcoal grill knows it can take a few tries — and a lot of patience. Cooking with propane, however, is as easy as turning a knob.
  • Constant heat: Charcoal grills are unpredictable. Your flame may dwindle or completely die out. Propane grills deliver constant, even heat. No relighting required.
  • Cleanliness: You won’t get a huge mess with a propane grill. Not only does propane itself burn cleaner, it’s also easier to clean up. After cooking, you’ll just need to wipe down your grill to clean off excess food. You won’t have to empty out messy briquettes.
  • Taste: Charcoal devotees love the smoky flavor that can come with charcoal grilling. Use too much starter fluid to light your grill, though, and traces of it will be present on your food. Propane does not transfer flavors to food, so your burgers will taste like beef instead of butane.

Next time you’re in the market for a grill, you’ll be more prepared to make your decision. And if you’re looking to pick sides, there’s always room on Team Propane.

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