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Old 02-22-2011, 06:21 AM   #21
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Thank you everyone for your insight. A buried, owned, 500 gal tank is quoted at $5900 stubbed to the house.
Might be worthwhile checking various suppliers. I was able to buy a 500 gallon tank for $500 from a new supplier if I agreed to a 2 year contract (just like cellphones!).
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Old 02-22-2011, 06:49 AM   #22
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We have a 500 gal tank. That is as big as we can get in our area of California. We pay $90 per year to lease the tank. Last fill up was early December, not quite 100 gallons, $2.65 per gallon. I couldn't stomach the price of the buried tank.

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Old 02-22-2011, 07:02 AM   #23
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Old 02-22-2011, 08:02 AM   #24
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We have a rented 500 gal tank. Last fill 2.35. We use between 400 and 500 gal a year, depending on weather. We have two in attic heaters, (main and guest house), tow hot water heaters, gas stove, and dryer. We also have three outdoor connections, however, none are in use now. Normally the tank reads 60% in March, and will not require any gas until November. The home heating eats up the gas. While I have never compared it with the neighbors, hard to do as homes in this area are custom, but I would say the cost is just about a wash. I would most likely consider a heat pump if the AC's needed changing.
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Old 02-22-2011, 08:15 AM   #25
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Just for the record, here in southern Ohio, during the 8 years we had the propane heated house we averaged between 1,000 and 1,300 gallons per year. Heat/hot water only, we had an electric stove.
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Old 02-22-2011, 08:24 AM   #26
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I had propane in my last house, which had an exterior packaged unit for heating and cooling. In 2009 we replaced the unit, which was on its last legs, with a high-efficiency heat pump that qualified for the tax credits. I work with HVAC engineers who taught me how to calculate the expected cost of heating with each fuel (sorry I don't have the exact methodology any more). I believe comparing a heat pump with propane was fairly complicated, but that the heat pump would beat it hands down. For the emergency heat, it was a matter of comparing electric resistance heat to propane. You have to convert the price per kilowatt-hour and the price per gallon of propane to dollars per BTU. Then, using the efficiency of each method, determine the price per BTU delivered to the house. (I believe electric resistance heat is 95%+, and propane was around 80%. Anyway, the bottom line was that electric resistance heat was cheaper than propane in my case, which surprised me.

But I went with the propane for backup heat simply because their was already a propane line running to the unit, and electric would have involved adding a new circuit or possibly an upgraded service, which would have been prohibitively expensive.

So, I used up all the tax credits and moved a year later. Go figure! But it felt good for that one year to see the tank get filled only twice in the season instead of once a month.

On another note, I concur with owning the tank. I inherited a rented tank with the purchase of the house and the agreement was such that it could only be terminated on January 1 of a given year. Would be kind of inconvenient to switch out a tank in freezing weather.

I also replaced the 15-year-old water heater with a tankless, which I loved. That was expensive, too, considering it couldn't be installed in the old location. OTOH, if it were new construction the choice of tankless would be a no-brainer, IMHO. Most of the savings, I found, were in the expected longevity of the unit instead of energy efficiency.
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Old 02-22-2011, 11:48 AM   #27
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Rent a 500 gallon above ground propane tank for $12 / year.

Was running on propane but switched to natural gas. Have propane for back up heaters should the NG supply fail. The system was already in place when I bought and it costs next to nothing to keep it. Heaters are not covertable to NG.

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Old 02-23-2011, 10:28 AM   #28
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We rent a 250 gal propane tank which feeds the stove and the 16KW back-up generator in our new house. Own the propane tank in the second house which runs the furnace and water heaters, but not the stove (go figure). Would strongly recommend owning the tank if there is competition amongst gas suppliers in your area.

Just one note - in both areas burying a tank is not allowed due to potential corrosion problems and difficulty in inspecting the tanks. I planted pampas grass around one, azaleas around the other to visually mask them, but they are still not the most attractive feature in a landscape.....

An associated, but slightly off-topic point - throughout the U.S. (esp in the midwest) there is a huge problem with old buried gasoline tanks. There was a boom in building new gas stations in the 50's and 60's, and after 50-60 years, those old steel tanks are rotting away, leaking gasoline into the ground. Serious problem and very expensive to remediate.

Granted, it could be 50 years down the road, but steel + groundwater in an oxidizing environment is not a good recipe to contain flammable material under pressure.
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Old 02-23-2011, 12:12 PM   #29
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I purchased a used 500 gallon tank when I purchased my house and then they put natural gas in my neighborhood so I switched. I then sold the tank to my sister in law and it is still in use. the tank has a plate that said it was made in 1954. granted that if it was buried it might not last that long but if you replaced it every 30 years, the cost would have only been about 33 dollars a year. you can buy this tank new for 1000. I guess it depends on how much time you spend on decorating around the tank. you can bury a tank where I live in Iowa and a lot of people do.
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Old 02-23-2011, 12:17 PM   #30
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heaters are convertible to natural gas, you just have to change the orifices and adjust the flame, still for what you are paying I would do what you do. keep them both. don't they require that you purchase a minimum of gas to leave the tank for 12 a year?
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Old 02-23-2011, 12:43 PM   #31
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Whether you can bury a tank all depends on where you live and what the applicable codes are. In Arizona, (ie., arid southwest) no problem. In southern Louisiana, where the water table is sometimes just inches below the surface, not so good.

I agree - the aesthetics are MUCH better getting it out of sight.
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Old 02-23-2011, 08:48 PM   #32
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heaters are convertible to natural gas, you just have to change the orifices and adjust the flame, still for what you are paying I would do what you do. keep them both. don't they require that you purchase a minimum of gas to leave the tank for 12 a year?
Leased tanks require a minimum annual purchase. Owned tanks usually do not (unless you have a contract with the propane company for a price guarantee).
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Old 02-24-2011, 09:22 AM   #33
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Leased tanks require a minimum annual purchase. Owned tanks usually do not (unless you have a contract with the propane company for a price guarantee).
That's not true here.
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Old 02-24-2011, 09:23 AM   #34
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I agree - the aesthetics are MUCH better getting it out of sight.
I'm not sure I totally agree: I still have such fond memories of riding my big white horse as a child that seeing these things still make me smile....especially the one that is still behind mom's house.

Seriously though, it was behind a shed/yard-barn and you couldn't even see it from the house. Just a thought.
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Old 02-24-2011, 10:02 AM   #35
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I prefer all electric but wanted something better than the standard water heater. At first I was going to get a tankless electric water heater but after researching it decided not to. They have very high electrical requirements and don't work that well.

What we did buy was a hybrid heat pump water eater. We bought the one made by GE. They are more expensive but we had an immediate drop in electric costs. We've been very pleased with ours.

Hot Water Heater, Heat Pump Water Heater, Water Heater Electric | GE Appliances
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Old 02-24-2011, 10:09 AM   #36
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The most important thing if you choose to use propane is fill it up as full as they will let you before winter. I swear in the winter they have more rates than a dog has fleas, and they were all outrageuous. I went to buy when I ran out and saw three bills from customers that day on a desk all with different prices (and non of them were cheap) from the same day. They couldnt give me a straight answer when I asked why mine was higher. And like another poster said, dont let them come by and "top it off" in the winter unless you ask for it!
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Old 02-24-2011, 10:35 AM   #37
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katsmeow: interesting about the heat/waterheater. what part of the country do you live in? I live in the midwest and the winters here get very cold. are they units like you have recommended for anywhere in the country?
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Old 02-24-2011, 10:51 AM   #38
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katsmeow: interesting about the heat/waterheater. what part of the country do you live in? I live in the midwest and the winters here get very cold. are they units like you have recommended for anywhere in the country?

I live in Texas. Rheem has a map of efficiency zones for their hybrid hot water heater:

Efficiency Zones - Rheem Hybrid Electric Water Heater Featuring Heat Pump Technology
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Old 02-24-2011, 12:09 PM   #39
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the aesthetics are MUCH better getting it out of sight.
In an area where everyone has one, it's something you get used to. However, it's easy to put a nice fence around the tank.
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Old 02-24-2011, 12:59 PM   #40
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katsmeow: interesting about the heat/waterheater. what part of the country do you live in? I live in the midwest and the winters here get very cold. are they units like you have recommended for anywhere in the country?
Remember, this thing is going to suck the heat from the air around it to move it to the water, and it expels that colder air. If you then end up heating that air again, I doubt there is any gain in overall efficiency.

Standard Electric water heaters are very well insulated and essentially 100% efficient. But Natural Gas (if available) is far cheaper per unit of heat, even after some efficiency loss.

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