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State: Buy propane now and do your homework first

MADISON, Wis. (WSAU) -- State consumer affairs officials say now is the time for you to be shopping for your propane for winter.

Department of Agriculture Trade and Consumer Protection superintendent Sandy Chalmers says the time to buy or order your propane is the summer. "The energy experts at the state energy office are encouraging consumers and farmers to fill their propane tanks now while prices are low." Chalmers says there's a number of pros to doing it now. "That allows you to know your out of pocket expenses ahead of time, and also avoid those wintertime price spikes." That's because you can lock in that price now before more people are ordering propane and driving up demand.

But Chalmers says you shouldn't just go for the lowest price on the market. You should be asking about fees and and things that could change the price later on. "Make sure you ask about any add on fees, like delivery costs or trucking fees, whether delivery charges are higher on weekends or after normal office hours, because that can all have a significant impact on your out of pocket costs." Also make sure to keep a copy of your contracts for at least a year to ensure you have a good record of everything.

You should also do your investigation to make sure the company you're buying from is reputable. Chalmers says her office is still getting calls about the problems with dealers not delivering the propane they contacted for. "We still are getting a few complaints, it's very interesting. But obviously the complaints are not coming in as quickly as they were at the end of January and February."

DATCP has an online resource to finding the propane that's right for your budget. You can find that online here.