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Ready or Not #83: Alternative Fuel and Gas Tips

Updated: Jan 4, 2023

I have a wood/coal burning stove in my basement that keeps my house toasty warm, but it only works if I have dry, split wood that is stacked and ready to burn. If you cut the wood this year, it won’t be ready to burn until next year. So basically, if you intend to use wood for a heat source, you need to have two years’ worth – a stack that is already dry, and another stack that will be cured for next winter. If possible, it is best if you can store the wood in a covered area, or at least under a lean-to. Store coal in the same way, covered.

My trailer has a really warm heater that runs off of propane, but again it won’t do me much good if my propane tanks aren’t full. Make sure that you top your propane tanks off, and that includes the tank on the barbecue. Also make sure that you service the furnace in your house yearly, so you won’t have any surprises.

If you have a kerosene heater, have kerosene stored. I do hope that you have an alternative heat source planned in case there is a problem with the gas or electricity and that your choice IS SAFE! Do not rely on unsafe heating options, like your barbecue or briquettes or something else that can burn your house down or asphyxiate you and your family. Those are good alternative cooking sources, but not good heating sources.

As a last resort to stay warm you could get in your car and drive to grandma’s house or a motel, but then you would have to make sure that the car tank is full of gas. Just ask all of those people in Salt Lake City last year that lost all of their electricity for about three or four weeks. They had it rough. One more thing – If you are unable to keep your house warm, you will likely have broken water pipes. It just gets worse and worse. Consider buying an alternate heating source and fuel for a Christmas gift this year.

As long as we are talking about fuel sources, I received an email about tips on filling up your car. I am going to pass them on because they sound reasonable, but keep in mind I don’t even know how to check out the accuracy of this information. So just use your common sense and keep the tank full.

“Gasoline tips (email article, by an anonymous author)

  1. Fill up your car or truck in the morning when the temperature is still cool. Remember that all service stations have their storage tanks buried below ground; and the colder the ground, the denser the gasoline. When it gets warmer gasoline expands, so if you’re filling up in the afternoon or in the evening, what should be a gallon is not exactly a gallon. In the petroleum business, the specific gravity and temperature of the fuel (gasoline, diesel, jet fuel, ethanol, and other petroleum products) are significant. Every truckload that we load is temperature-compensated so that the indicated gallon-age is actually the amount pumped. A one-degree rise in temperature is a big deal for businesses, but service stations don’t have temperature compensation at their pumps.

  2. If a tanker truck is filling the station’s tank at the time you want to buy gas, do not fill up. It is most likely that dirt and sludge in the tank is being stirred up when gas is being delivered, and you might be transferring that dirt from the bottom of their tank into your car’s tank.

  3. Fill up when your gas tank is half-full (or half-empty), because the more gas you have in your tank the less air there is and gasoline evaporates rapidly, especially when it’s warm. (Gasoline storage tanks have an internal floating ‘roof’ membrane to act as a barrier between the gas and the atmosphere, thereby minimizing evaporation.)

  4. If you look at the trigger you’ll see that it has three delivery settings: slow, medium and high. When you’re filling up do not squeeze the trigger of the nozzle to the high setting. You should be pumping at the slow setting, thereby minimizing vapors created while you are pumping. Hoses at the pump are corrugated; the corrugations act as a return path for vapor recovery from gas that already has been metered. If you are pumping at the high setting, the agitated gasoline contains more vapor, which is being sucked back into the underground tank, so you’re getting less gas for your money. Hope this will help ease your ‘pain at the pump’.”


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