Propane shortage hits home for Owensville family

The Knight's propane tank is about 20 percent full. They don't know when they'll be able to refill.

A national propane shortage is hitting home for one Owensville family.

"I freak out about it. You don't want to run out and have to leave your home, you know. And we have animals too, so we have to think about them and how cold [they are] and then pipes freezing or busting in this kind of weather," Ashley Knight said.

She and her husband Eric have two-year-old triplets, and need gas to do household tasks like giving baths, doing dishes and doing laundry.

As of Thursday the Knight's propane tank was 20 percent full. They say that should last them another month, but in the mean time they're trying to conserve.

"We have to conserve more on hot water we're using, so we have to make showers quicker," Eric Knight said.

"We've turned down our actual heat and then we've been using infrared heaters to heat the home. The kids have a heater in their room to keep it really warm in there," Ashley Knight said.

Good thing, because they are unsure when their next propane delivery will be. With demand high and supply low, prices are skyrocketing.

"For 100 gallons it was going to be $425 so obviously with triplets that's kind of expensive to do," Ashley Knight said.

A representative from the Missouri Propane Gas Association said the national shortage is a combination of things.

The supplier for much of the midwest in Conway, Kansas, had a low inventory at the beginning of the season. Since propane yields higher prices abroad, exports were huge in the beginning of the season. This year's wet crops required greater use of propane grain dryers and finally recent frigid weather increased demand.

Laren Haslag, owner of Capital Energy in Jefferson City, said his company has been able to keep up with deliveries but has seen a delay in their supply arriving.

He said the rising price is due to the disproportionate supply and demand.

"Propane is a commodity just like corn, cattle or anything. So when it gets short and in demand, it's capitalism at work," Haslag said.

Haslag said there's usually a propane shortage once per decade.

He recommends people plan ahead for next year by considering pre-buy options; his customers that did that this year have not been impacted by the shortage at all.

He also suggested customers look to cheaper energy sources, like electricity, until the supply rebounds.