Davey, NE-- The bitter cold and a tight supply of propane gas has many people worried, leaving them with no choice but to cut the heat in their homes. Some 7 million American households, mostly in rural areas depend on propane for heat Now, with a problem of supply and demand, propane prices rose from a little over a dollar, to five dollars per gallon.
"The shortage started last fall, with grain drying, and pipeline under construction. Now the shortage is being exacerbated because of extreme cold in the upper Midwest and North East," said Nebraska Propane Gas Association Executive Director, Lynne Schuller.
“People budget propane, but what you got now is a budget buster,” said business owner, Chad Lechtenberg.
Lechtenberg uses propane on a daily basis for his truck service company and heating, but with prices spiking up—it’s changing the way he lives.
“Right now I drop the thermostat to 45-to- 50 degrees,” Lechtenberg said, “it’s inconvenient for everyone. You bear down and you make changes in what you have control over and wait for the storm to be over.”
The Nebraska Propane Gas Association says prices have never been this high, but a similar increase happened in the early 1990s.
“It’s horrible for the average homeowner. It’s not sustainable. Hopefully it's going to get back up,” said Schuller.
Solutions will not come easy, because they are relying on something they cannot control.
“The weather being more mild and temperatures goes back up will help,” said Schuller.
And the best advice for homeowners, “Just conserve a lot of what you can. We tell people not to buy any [propane] unless you have to. Hopefully when it’s over, it’s over and we get back to normal,” said Otte Oil and Propane owner, Jake Otte.
For the time being, Chad is using other alternatives to help him get by.
“I’ve got a forced air heater,” Lechtenberg said, “that uses off-road diesel. Especially now that it’s cheaper than propane.”