When it comes to heating your home, electricity isn’t your only option.
About 10 percent of American homeowners use propane to heat their homes—and for good reason. It’s an incredibly affordable and efficient way to stay warm even during extreme weather. However, you need to invest in a propane tank to hold all that fuel throughout the year. You can either buy the tank and own it outright or rent one from your propane company.
Both options have their advantages, but deciding whether it’s worth paying the full propane tank cost or making monthly rental payments isn’t always easy. Here’s what you need to consider to make the best choice for your home and your budget.
Think About the Propane Tank Cost
When you rent a propane tank, you pay a low monthly fee in addition to the cost of the fuel refill. This makes it ideal for homeowners working with a tight budget and those without hundreds of dollars set aside in a savings account. However, those monthly payments won’t stop unless you buy a tank outright.
Though buying a propane tank can save you money in the long-run, it’s expensive to get started. You have to pay the full propane tank cost upfront at the time of purchase. There are no monthly payment systems to break up the cost.
Before you make the decision to rent or buy, weigh the new propane tank cost against the price to rent a tank from your propane provider. If you can afford the full price upfront, buying may be a good option as it will save you money the longer you own your home.
However, if you’re worried about spending a large sum of money upfront on a tank that may only degrade over time, renting will be a better choice.
Consider the Maintenance It Will Need
When you own your own tank, you’re responsible for keeping it maintained. This means hiring an experienced propane repair technician to inspect and repair your tank throughout the year. If you neglect those maintenance tasks, you might be putting your home and your health at risk.
If you choose to rent a propane tank, the rental company handles all maintenance and repairs for you. The rental fee covers those costs and the tank gets inspected each time you schedule a refill.
Think about the amount of maintenance the tank may need. If tanks in your area need frequent maintenance, renting the tank may be a better option. If you’re confident in your ability to stay on top of maintenance and aren’t worried about frequent appointments, buying a tank is a great investment.
Ask About Fuel Discounts
Believe it or not, some propane providers offer discounts to customers that own their propane tanks. This is because the company isn’t having to pay for maintenance costs or worry about replacing the tank if it gets damaged. If you’re the type of homeowner that uses a lot of propane each month, those discounts can easily outweigh the costs of regular maintenance.
That said, homeowners that only use a small amount of propane every month may not benefit as much from the discounts. If you’re one of them, the rental fee that covers the cost of maintenance and eventual tank replacement may be a better value for your budget. Think about the amount of propane you tend to use or have used in the past. If you’re not sure where to start, check out this blog post for some insight.
If you don’t use much or only have to schedule refill appointments a few times a year, renting will be a better option.
Consider How Long You’ll Stay in the House
Installing a propane tank takes time. Once it’s in place, the last thing you want to do is pay the full propane tank installation cost again if you move to a new home. For people who tend to stay in one place for years at a time, buying a tank may be a better option.
Once you get the tank installed, it can stay put for years. If you move and choose to leave the tank on the property, you’ll increase the value of your home and may be able to get a higher asking price.
However, if you move frequently or aren’t planning to stay in your home long enough to see the benefits of owning your own tank, renting is best. Once you move and cancel your account, the propane company will come to pick up the tank for you.
Know Who You Want to Buy Propane From
Propane prices vary from company to company. When you own your propane tank, you’re able to compare prices and choose the company that fits your budget best. However, when you rent, you’re locked into using the company that you rent the tank from. If you want to switch to a different provider, you’ll need to switch to a different tank, too. Depending on how long you’ve been with one company, you may end up paying an early cancellation fee on top of the regular rental fee.
Before you decide, consider how you want to shop for propane. If you want the most convenient option and don’t mind paying a slightly higher price over the years, renting is a great choice.
However, if you prefer to shop around and want to be able to choose providers based on price, owning your tank is the better choice.
Is Owning Better Than Renting?
Ultimately, deciding whether to pay the full propane tank cost or rent one from your propane provider is a matter of personal preference. If you’re willing to pay the full price of the tank, tank installation, and ongoing maintenance, owning a propane tank is best. You’ll end up saving money over the life of the tank.
However, if you’re looking for convenience and don’t want to have to worry about scheduling maintenance, renting a tank will be a better fit. Think about how you use propane and your overall budget when making your decision.
Looking for more insight into how to get the most out of your monthly home maintenance budget? Check out our latest posts.