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When Should You Top Off My Propane or Oil Fuel Tank?

Late spring and early fall are popular times for fuel providers to urge their clients to top off their tanks and cap their fuel prices, and HB McClure is no different. Whether you use oil or propane, these are typically the best times to fill up and get the best price, but what we’d like you to understand is why.

You don’t need a lengthy lesson in economics to understand fuel pricing. While there are many complex factors that affect fuel prices, the simple principle of supply and demand still applies. Mid-autumn is typically the time of year when the homeowners in our area start turning on the heat, and the demand for propane and oil begins to increase as usage increases.  As we move into the winter months, demand continues to grow as temperatures drop lower and more fuel is consumed in the heating of our homes. As the demand grows, the supply shrinks, and the price rises.

So, should you top off and cap your price now?

The best answer to this question will come from a trusted, established local fuel provider. When you choose an established local provider, you’re choosing someone that knows your area and is a part of your community. A local provider will have a much deeper understanding of fuel usage patterns and trends in your region and will also have experience with seasons that haven’t followed a predictable course. What you’ll get is invaluable wisdom and experience that you can call on to inform your decisions about your home heating fuel needs.

A reputable provider will look at your historical fuel usage patterns and factor in both past seasonal temperature patterns and forecasts to determine an estimated amount of fuel you can expect to use. A trustworthy provider will also advise you on when is the best time to top off your tank and cap your price. Just remember that predicting fuel prices is like predicting stock prices; there are no guarantees, and uncontrollable events, such as a hurricane or a political crisis, can sometimes affect fuel prices overnight.

In addition to topping off and capping your price, your provider should also be able to work with you to create a budget based on your estimated fuel usage. Most providers offer a choice of payment plans so you can spread out your payments and avoid paying a lump sum at each fill up. Your usage pattern can also be used to create an automatic delivery plan. Most homeowners prefer automatic delivery because it relieves them of the burden of having to monitor their fuel supply and removes the risk of running out before delivery can be scheduled.

Don’t Pay a High Price to Save a Few Cents

A lot of smart homeowners mistakenly choose a fuel provider based solely on the price of the fuel. Think of it this way. Have you ever driven across town, miles away from home, to save three cents on gas? Yes, you got the best price, but you also spent more than what you saved driving the extra miles.

Fuel providers work much in the same way. Some may lure you in with a great price per gallon, but are you really saving money if they aren’t there when you really need them? If you look at your fuel provider choices, often you’ll see that the difference between the cheapest price and the highest price is merely pennies. If you’re only picking based on price, you may end up with a provider that doesn’t offer other critical services that will cost you far more than pennies in an emergency.

The best fuel company choice is a full-service provider—one that has the resources to reliably supply your fuel, meet your routine maintenance and repair needs, and respond to you in an emergency. Not all fuel providers have these resources. Make sure you choose one that does. You may be paying a few more cents per gallon, but you’ll save much more in peace of mind.