(WMC-TV) - Electricity is not the only way to heat your home. Some people use propane, but nationwide, there is a shortage, forcing people to pay a lot more to stay warm.
The propane shortage has some Mid-Southerners taking drastic measures to stay warm and comfortable in this bitterly cold weather.
DeSoto County resident Michelle Carpenter uses propane for just about everything.
"We use propane to heat our home, use it for the cook top, and use it for the hot water heater," she explained.
The shortage has some people paying as much as $3 and $4 per gallon for the gas.
It cost Carpenter $1,200 to half-fill her 850 gallon propane tank on Monday.
"All is due at the time of delivery or within 30 days, so appreciate Memphis Light, Gas, and Water," she said.
Local propane distributors like AmeriGas and Ferrellgas say the demand for propane is at one of its highest recorded levels.
Ferrellgas says while the U.S. is producing more propane now than ever, the challenge comes in transporting the propane to the thousands of people who need it.
"We enjoy living in a rural area. I'd trade it for nothing but had we known about propane, our furnace would have been electricity, our water tank electric," said Carpenter.
The U.S. Department of Transportation issued emergency declarations to allow drivers additional hours on the road to make propane deliveries.
Meanwhile, customers like Michelle Carpenter are doing whatever it takes to stay warm, without spending more money than necessary.
"If that means setting our thermostats at 68 degrees, that's what we do," she said. "If that also means putting on sweat pants or a hoodie, then that's what we'll do."
Ferrellgas and other Mid-South companies released more information about the shortage and when propane prices might go down.
To see what Ferrellgas has to say, click here: http://www.ferrellgas.com/PropaneSupplyandDistribution
To see what Amerigas says, click here: http://www.amerigas.com/pdfs/CEO-Winter-Letter.pdf
Below is a statement from Amerigas' Simon Bowman on things you can do to make life easier while propane gas prices are high and as you wait on your delivery:
"Thanks for your inquiry to AmeriGas. We have had lots of questions in recent days about propane supply, prices, and if there is anything consumers can do to manage their energy usage during this severe winter.
AmeriGas delivers propane to over 2 million customers in all 50 states. We are currently rationing deliveries to customers in a select few service territories. However, we are working hard to alleviate these supply issues and ensure that all of our customers are taken care of. AmeriGas's size, purchasing power, supply and logistics team, and our fleet of long-haul transports enable us to quickly get propane supply to the areas currently in need. Our goal is to ensure that everyone stays warm and safe this winter.
Propane is generally priced based on the wholesale price of the product, the distance involved in transporting it, the quantity purchased, and any price protection or budget plan the customer may have in place with AmeriGas.
Important steps that consumers should take to stay safe and ensure they will be able to get deliveries:
1. Clear snow and ice from around your propane tank, chimneys, flue pipes and vents. Use a broom rather than a shovel, and clear these areas frequently to reduce the possibility of carbon monoxide poisoning. If pipes freeze and crack, gas can leak out and cause potential danger.
2. Keep a path clear to your propane tank. This will help our delivery drivers to get to your tank easily, refill quickly, and get to the next home.
3. Alert Snow Plow Contractors. Make anyone hired to perform snow removal be advised that a propane truck is much wider than your car or pickup. The drive must be plowed out wide enough for the truck to back in. Also remind the plow operator of the presence and location of your tank (whether it is aboveground or underground). Accidental contact of snow removal equipment with tanks could cause a serious safety hazard.
4. Use extreme caution when operating portable generators. Never use a portable generator (gasoline, diesel, or propane) indoors or in enclosed areas. This can result in carbon monoxide poisoning or death.
5. "Button-up" your home to conserve energy. If you haven't already done so, check caulking around doors and windows, seal air leaks around openings where plumbing or electrical wiring goes through walls, floors and ceilings, and secure storm windows throughout the house. Conserving energy is a smart thing to do all the time, especially when it is cold.
Call your local AmeriGas office with any questions about your propane tank or to be sure your tank is kept full. Above all, be careful in this severe weather."
Here is additional info from the National Propane Gas Association: http://www.npga.org/i4a/pages/index.cfm?pageid=1857
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