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Providing non-judgmental and non-criticizing support for family and friends of end-stage alcoholics through one-on-one coaching, support groups, blog posts, workshops and public speaking.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Gas pains...

My refusal to be extorted by the local propane companies means the past couple of days have been difficult. I say “difficult” because it has not been impossible. The thermostat in the hallway reads 49 degrees. But, I reason with myself that the hallway is small without any direct heat and I should expect it to be colder there rather than the rest of the house. The thermostat on the living heater is reading 57 degrees. Now that’s more tolerable.

Riley sits in his favorite wing-backed chair with a heated throw over his lap. He is dressed in sweat pants, T-shirt with a sweat shirt over it, thermal socks and his fuzzy lined slippers. He has on his Santa hat to keep his head and ears warm. I keep him supplied with hot coffee. He had hot oatmeal with blueberries for breakfast and he’ll have chili for lunch. Dinner will be beef stew. So he’s doing pretty well.

I’m in my office which is registering 52 degrees overall, but I have a little heater under my desk that keeps my legs and toes warm. I’m also in a sweat suit with a little sweat-type jacket. If my ears get cold I simple pull up the hood. Yesterday I was able to work in here for about six hours. I’m hoping for the same today. If I get too cold, I’ll just transfer to my bed and crawl under my electric blanket.

We do have heat. We have a really nice electric heater in the living room, Riley’s room and my bedroom. When I cook or bake the kitchen warms up. If I build a fire in my office fireplace, I can heat the whole front portion of the house. Since the electrical system still has an old fashioned fuse box, I am careful not to overload any circuits. Heat is not impossible; it just requires some planning and caution.

I saw the weather report and was disappointed to see that the next week or so will be very cold. I’m starting to rethink my war with the propane companies.

My issues are that my landlord really doesn’t want me to get one of those huge tanks. I agree with him. The last time we had propane heat, I left propane in the tank when I moved. That tank lasted for a whole winter season and I used it for cooking as well as heat. Even if we had propane now, my thermostat would probably be set for between 65 and 68 degrees with it set down to as far as 60 after we go to bed. So I don’t want/need a giant tank because they will fill it all the way up.

According to the propane companies, the size of the tank is related to the size of the house. It doesn’t matter that I have the vents closed in the laundry room, halls, and small bathroom – they get enough overflow heat from the rest of the house. It doesn’t matter that I don’t feel I NEED that much propane. They want me to have a tank that holds more than 200 pounds.

So… if I say “Come on out and I’ll sign your papers!” The nightmare doesn’t end there. There is a fee for bringing the tank, a fee for setting it up, a fee for filling it up, and a deposit in case I decide to run off with the tank. The cheapest it will cost me to do all that is $400 and then the price goes up depending on what company. There won’t be an extra $400 in our budget until March.

But that’s only the tip of the iceberg. I have to sign a contract that I will use a certain amount so that they can come and fill the tank on a regular basis. I believe they come out about every six weeks and fill it back up to the top. If I don’t use a certain amount and they can’t refill – I have to pay a fee. I don’t feel I want to be penalized for being conservative with energy sources.

My landlord is talking about putting in a heat pump because he too has had a bad experience with the propane companies. That’s why he removed the last tank from the yard. This house was vacant and had been vacant for several months when the propane company came in and filled it without his knowledge. He then received a bill. A disagreement ensued which left the propane company with the task of crediting back the money (he had a direct payment plan) and removing the tank. I didn’t know I had called that company until they told me they would not do business with anyone at this address.

We just have to get through this winter. I’ll encourage the landlord to have the heat pump installed during the summer or fall. That will free me of being held hostage by the propane companies.

According to The Weather Channel the coldest days are in January. February is just a little more than a week away. I feel like we are marathon runners who are looking at that tape across the track and just praying we actually make it across the finish line.

How many days until Spring?


Wife Goes On said...

Hang in there! I understand so well the propane companies' demands and extortions. If you are able to be safe, then carry on. It sounds like you are doing okay with the residual heat you have around you. Perhaps just keep a fire going when you are awake if that helps keep it warm. We just had to get a new furnace and I still keep it set at 60 at night and 66 when we are home. That's why we have sweaters and socks!

Sharlo Leonard said...

I have gone round and round with propane people. When he was alive, it cost me $600 a month for propane!! The winters go below zero and last from early October until May....Hated those verbal battles...even called the president of the company at one point. Stay warm Linda!