Unplugged Energy Independence

Getting gouged by propane prices?

Posted by Kelsey Loeffler on Thu,Jan 30,2014 @ 09:54 AM

alternative heatingGetting gouged by propane prices? If so, you're not alone. Some 14 million Americans who rely on propane have been shelling out more and more to heat their homes while the strong demand has outpaced the already low inventories, energy officials say.

Now is a better time than ever to switch to alternative energy. Free yourself from the rollercoaster of fluctuating fossil fuel prices.

Don't just take our word for it. Here are some recent articles from around the U.S

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Scott Walker declares state of emergency on propane shortage.

Citing another wave of frigid weather bearing down on Wisconsin and dangerously low supplies of propane, Governor Scott Walker has declared a state of emergency. Walker directed all state agencies "to assist as appropriate" in helping residents deal with the propane shortage, which has sent prices soaring and left some users struggling to find a supplier who will provide fuel.

Nearly 250,000 Wisconsin homes heat with propane, many in rural areas not served by natural gas lines.

The shortage — attributed to a colder-than-normal winter, the shutdown of a key supply pipeline earlier in the season and heavy use of propane by farmers to dry grain last fall — has sent prices for many customers well above $5 a gallon. Read the full article here.

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Midwest faces propane emergency as more cold weather moves in.

Millions of residents in the Midwest and Northeast who rely on propane to heat their homes are facing a severe shortage and spiking prices as another wave of freezing weather heads east. Now, states across the region are deploying emergency resources as a result.

Blame for the propane shortage lies with the wetter-than-usual fall, which meant that farmers used more propane than usual to dry corn crops; an unusually cold winter; and a temporary shutdown of a major pipeline for maintenance this year.

As a result, propane prices are setting new records. The average price of a gallon of residential propane for the week ending Jan. 20 hit $2.96, according to the Energy Information Administration, up 60 cents from mid-October, the highest price ever recorded by the agency. Prices in the Midwest are even higher; on Friday, prices ended at $4.30 a gallon in the Midwest, down from a peak of about $5 a gallon. Read full article here.

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Propane shortage slams farmers.

A propane squeeze caused by January’s bitter cold has put the hurt on Minnesota’s livestock industry, as farmers scramble to find costly fuel to keep their animals warm.

Some turkey growers are being told by suppliers that the propane spigot might get turned off if the cold keeps up over the next week.

Shortage worries are particularly acute in the ­turkey industry, and Minnesota is the nation’s leading turkey-producing state, with about 250 growers.

Fuel suppliers have told some farmers that they have “five days left of propane,” said Steve Olson, executive director of the Minnesota Turkey Growers Association. “The big concern is availability.”

Farmers — along with propane users of all stripes — are paying huge premiums for the fuel these days. Wholesale spot prices in Minnesota have gone from about $3.75 per gallon a few days ago to just south of $5 a gallon. Last fall, the propane price was $1.55 per gallon, and most of the run-up since then has occurred this month. Read full article here.

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U.S. propane shortage hits millions during brutal freeze.

Millions of Americans are feeling the pinch of a propane shortage this week as brutal cold exposes the supply vulnerabilities of a fuel that heats homes, schools and businesses across wide swathes of the United States.

Prices of the fuel, a liquefied petroleum gas, have rocketed to all-time highs in Midwestern states, distributors are rationing supplies, and some schools have shut due to a lack of the fuel during this year's second bout of Arctic weather.

The U.S. Department of Transportation has issued emergency orders suspending the limits on the amount of time truck drivers can spend on the road for 10 Midwestern states and 12 Northeastern states, a rare regional order. Read full article here.

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Prolonged cold blast worsens propane shortage across Midwest.

America’s chronic cold is creating a significant propane shortage across the Midwest — leading Wisconsin to become the latest state to declare an energy emergency in advance of more arctic air blasting eastward this week.

Some 14 million Americans who rely on that type of fuel have been shelling out more and more to heat their homes while the strong demand has outpaced the already-low inventories, energy officials say.

Twenty-four states, including Ohio, Illinois and Alabama, have already declared energy emergencies — which helps to loosen transportation rules so that out-of-state truckers can drive longer hours to make needed propane deliveries. Read full article here.

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Now is a great time to research alternative heating products. Take the time to learn about the products available to you and the changes the EPA will be making to the wood burning industry.

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2014 Winter Outlook, According to the Farmers' Almanac

Posted by Todd Strem on Tue,Sep 24,2013 @ 10:59 AM

WoodMasterI generally do not consider myself as an old fashioned individual. Here at WoodMaster we believe we are open minded and constantly researching, developing and on the lookout for new and creative ways to use alternative, natural energy. But when it comes to the Farmers’ Almanac and the Old Farmer’s Almanac I do tend to be old fashioned. I suppose it’s from being raised in the Midwest in a farming community. Of course a main topic was always the weather and how it will affect the crops and of course the Almanac’s were always brought into that conversation. Even today when you go to the local coffee shop you hear the conversation center around the forecast that the Almanac’s have predicted.

Whether you read or believe in the Almanac’s is totally your choice. Personally this is one old habit I am not going to break. I have come to trust what they say because it at least gives me an idea of what to expect and if I happen to be a little over prepared because of it that’s OK.

What are they saying for this coming winter? Well the Farmers’ Almanac is using words like “piercing cold” along with “bitterly cold” and “biting cold.” Take a look at their map of the U.S. and you will get the idea.

Almanac

As for the Old Farmer’s Almanac according to Janice Stillman, editor “This winter is shaping up to be a rough one.” She goes on to say “Sweaters and snow shovels should be unpacked early and kept close by throughout the season.”

What I’m getting out of this is get ready for what may become a long cold winter and for those of you that like to play in the winter wonderlands’ you should have the snow cover to really enjoy yourselves. Here in the Midwest I’m sure we will be enjoying great skiing, snowmobiling and ice fishing if this forecast is accurate.

It’s still early enough to take a look at how you are going to heat this winter and if you need help in what’s available and how you can become oil independent just give us a call and WoodMaster can assist you. WoodMaster furnaces keep winter's harshest chill away. Tell old man winter to visit your neighbor.

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When to Choose Wood Heat

Posted by Kelsey Loeffler on Fri,Jan 25,2013 @ 10:50 AM

wood burning outdoor stoves

Every winter, those who choose to heat with wood devote time into cutting up logs, and every spring they split the logs and stack them in rows to dry in the hot summer sun. Why do so many households choose to heat with wood? Because firewood is a homegrown energy resource that helps families stretch their household budgets, strengthen their local economies and continue a generations-long tradition.

The Pros of Wood Heat

During tough economic times more people turn to heating with wood. The U.S. Energy Information Administration date released in October 2012 projects that more than 2.6 million households will heat their home with wood this year, which is a 3 percent increase over last year.

Wood as a Renewable Energy Resource

These days, there is plenty of debate over what to do about climate changing carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels. But firewood literally grows on trees, and the ability of a woodlot to regenerate is the secret to its status as a renewable energy source. Wood is about half carbon by weight, but its use as a fuel is almost carbon dioxide-neutral, because trees absorb CO2 as they grow. When trees fall in the forest, the same amount of CO2 is emitted when they decompose as is released when they are burned for heat.

Benefits and Costs of Heating with Wood

"Net Energy" is the usuable amount of energy left after extracting, processing and transporting the energy commodity to market. Natural firewood has a very high net energy ratio compared with most other options because it needs little processing, much of which can be done with human labor. This is why firewoods price is stable. Price stability is not likely for fossil fuels, because the net energy goes way down and the retail prices goes way up as easily accessible deposits are depleted. Declining net energy is the biggest reason oil prices are so high now.

Considering the rising cost of conventional fuels, households can save a lot of money by heating with a wood burning outdoor stove. A household that heats with wood trades its own labor for big savings in home operating expenses. Depending on climate zones and other available fuel options, a household that produces its own firewood supply can save $2000 or more each year.

Buy Local Fuel

A woodlot owner who produces and sells firewood provides employment and income to the area. If a household buys its winter fuel supply from a neighbor, the transaction has a multiplying effect by keeping the money circulating within the community, increasing local incomes and creating jobs.

Most people recognize that wood is humanity's original heating fuel. Heating with wood today is dramatically better than it was in the past. The efficiency of the average wood burning outdoor stoves has roughly doubled to about 70%. The EPA-qualified indoor and wood burning outdoor stoves have even higher efficiencies, some into the 90% range. 

Heating with wood burning outdoor stoves is about much more than home heating. Wood is the ultimate energy resource- and the most easily accessed and affordable of all renewable energies. People who purchase firewood create jobs close to home and strengten their local community. Those who utilize wood burning outdoor stoves know more about the cause-and-effect relationships of energy production and consumption than those who simply pay utility bills. And families that use wood burning outdoor stoves will find that the act of heating with wood is its own reward.

Topics: woodmaster outdoor wood-burning furnaces, affordable fuel, alternative energy sources, affordability of wood heating, affordability of heating with wood, wood heating, wood burning outdoor stoves, wood burning outdoor stove, alternative energy

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