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Pondering Propane

December 29, 2011

I woke up around 4:30 am thinking we had finally run out of propane.  But apparently, last night, I switched the thermostat from Heat to Cool. When the overnight temperature is 30 degrees, that’s not a good thing.  I could say that I’m still learning the thermostat in the motorhome, but that would be misleading.  I never did well with the one in the sticks and bricks house, either.   Fortunately, we had the little electric heater in the hallway, aimed at the bedroom, so the worst time was when we got out of bed this morning.

With temperatures getting down at or around freezing at night, we’re going through propane at a rate of roughly 17 gal every three weeks.  At Gierisch Brothers Motor Company aka NAPA Auto Parts in Roanoke, we’re paying $2.90 per gallon.  I’m still trying to get a handle on how much this propane tank holds.  The Owner’s Manual says 27 gallons.  When we filled it last time, the gauge at the tank said we were at 1/4 tank.  We paid $51.62 for 17.8 gallons.  From what I understand, a propne tank is only filled to 80% capacity, and the propane guy said we were cutting it close at 1/4 tank.  I’m taking his word for it.

Today, after three weeks, it’s sitting at just over 1/4 tank, so I’m taking it to be filled later in the morning.  My calculations say we’re spending a little under $69 per month for propane so far during the winter.  We still have to get through January and February, which will be colder during the day at times, so it may run a bit more than that.

Our electric bill for one month was slightly under $30.  So we now know that,. during the winter months in the Dallas/Fort Worth area, we’re going to spend slightly more than $100 per month for gas and electric.  It seems like a safe bet that those should drop to nominal amounts once we get above winter temperatures.

Nell is at work, so I’m on my own for the propane run today.  Shortly, I’ll start clearing off the kitchen counter, pulling artwork off the walls, and laying a couple of things down that are what I call the “fall-ables”.  It doesn’t really take long for “breakdown” and “setup”, and it reduces the number of loud clunks and clanks one hears back there while driving down the road.  I’ve pulled out a plastic tub that fits into the large side of the kitchen sink, and will just pile everything into it with a couple of dish cloths.  The coffee pot will go into the small sink.

I’ll write this in two sections.  The next section will come after I get back.

*     *     *

Back at the RV Park.  The propane tank took 16.7 gallons this time, but I went one day short of three weeks, so if I had waited until tomorrow, it might have taken close to the exact same amount as last time.  So, in 6 weeks, part of November and all of December, we’ve spent $100 on propane, and most of that was for heating.

NAPA Auto Parts in Roanoke is only about four miles from the RV Park, so the whole round trip takes less than an hour. That’s my third solo drive in the motorhome, and it was actually pretty uneventful.  Getting out of the RV site took a while, because I kept forgetting things that needed to be done, mainly inside.  It took three tries to get the TV antenna down (I count each time I had to step outside and look up to see if it was down as a “try”).  The third time I stepped out, Barry, my RV Technician neighbor across the street was at the door to tell me “that did it”.  He had apparently seen me outside looking up, and figured out what I was doing.  He was headed over to remind me that the ring around the inside crank has to be pointing straight back, which I had finally figured out.  Barry’s a good guy.  He showed me how to get the antenna working, has poked around at some things and given me advice, even talked me through how to replace the microwave, and has refused to take a dime for his time.

So after unhooking the electrical service, the water hose and the sewer line, and raising all the miniblinds so they won’t rattle, I headed out of the park, turned onto the main highway, and rolled on down the road.  The route I selected last time made it a really easy solo trip, and I managed to pull into the driveway at NAPA, and turn and park by the propane tank without any adjustments.  The return trip was just as uneventful.  In fact, I backed into our site on one shot, got within a few feet of the levelling pads the tires had been on, then finished backing up and put the tires right where they were supposed to be.

Everything is hooked back up, the TV works beautifully, and I’m sitting after lunch with windows open in cool, comfortable, environment almost ready to doze off.

It’s a tough life…

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