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Your Propane Gift Guide!

No need to shop around this holiday season, AmeriGas has done that for you! Check out this list of propane products we put together

  • Gas Grill: Perfect for that grill master in your life. Surprise them with some new equipment for the upcoming grilling season!
  • Fire Pit: Those chilly winter nights will feel so warm and cozy sitting by your new propane powered fire pit!
  • Generator:  No one likes it when the power goes out! Keep comfort on your list this year by purchasing a propane powered generator. A generator will keep your cozy when an unexpected or severe storm hits. Don’t be left in the cold when the power goes out.
  • Patio Heater: Here is a gift the whole family will love! Extend your patio season with a propane powered patio heater and turn those chilly winter nights into a cozy outdoor experience!
  • Propane from AmeriGas: Obviously you need to power all of your awesome new gifts with AmeriGas Propane! Pick up a tank at your closest location.
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The Perfect Cookie Every Time

The Holidays are almost here, which marks the unofficial start of the baking season.  Personally, my favorite Holiday treat is a classic—the chocolate chip cookie.  I mean, who doesn’t love chocolate chip cookies?  Biting into their warm and gooey goodness brings me back to my childhood.  The problem?  Baking is not my forte.  When I attempt to bake my all-time favorite cookies, the bottoms come out black while the tops are practically raw.  Just as I was about to give up I realized something:  maybe it’s not how I bake them but what I bake them in.

In my research I found that I’m not the only one inept baker in the world.  Many frustrated bakers have complained about similar issues time and time again, all of which had one thing in common—an electric oven.  Coincidentally, I too was using an electric oven.  As it turns out, this is a common issue with electric ovens.

Propane ovens, on the other hand, offer you more control in regards to precise temperature.  Propane ovens also distribute heat evenly, giving you that perfectly browned color every single time.  No more charred cookies for me!

So fire up that propane oven and get prepared for the Holiday baking rush!  We’ve even included our (ok, my) favorite cookie recipe below to get help give you a head start on baking this year.

Looking to make the switch to a propane oven?  Learn more about the benefits of cooking with propane by speaking with one of our propane experts! Call your local office or contact one of our appliance specialists.


Best Chocolate Chip Cookies

Prep Time: 20 min  |  Cook Time: 10 min  |  24 Servings

Ingredients

1 c. butter, softened
1 c. white sugar
1 c. packed brown sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 c. all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. hot water
½ tsp. salt
2 c. semisweet chocolate chips
1 c. chopped walnuts (optional)

Directions

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2.  Cream together the butter, white sugar and brown sugar until smooth.  Beat in the eggs one at a time, then stir in the vanilla.  Dissolve baking soda in hot water.  Add to batter along with salt.  Stir in flour, chocolate chips, and nuts.  Drop by large spoonfuls onto ungreased pans
3.  Bake for about 10 minutes in the preheated oven, or until the edges are nicely browned.

 

*Recipe and photo from allrecipes.com

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Welcome Winter Grilling Season!

If this cold weather has you thinking it’s the end of grilling season, think again! If you can’t imagine life without your delicious grilled food, we have tips for you diehard winter grillers.

Winter grilling is not as simple as just throwing a few burgers on the grill and braving the elements. So we have provided some basic tips to get you started and keep you safe.

  • Clean out the snow around your grilling space to help efficiently preheat the grill and prevent slippery conditions.
  • Let the grill warm up for about 5 minutes longer than usual. With colder temperatures, it takes longer to heat the air in and around the grill.
  • Avoid windy conditions, and look for a grilling space near a windbreak of some kind. The wind will blow the heat you need for cooking away.
  • Keep the lid closed as much as possible. Every time you open the grill, cold air rushes into the cooking space and will need to reheat once the lid is closed again.
  • Dress for the weather, but avoid hanging fabrics such as scarfs that could catch fire.

When you are gearing up for some winter cookouts, always make sure you are following our safety guidelines when handling AmeriGas propane. It is a good idea to check for gas leaks before you fire up that grill.

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In the Community: Holiday Edition

The Holidays are a joyous time when families set everything aside to be with one another. It’s a time for singing, celebration and—of course—presents. Unfortunately, many families in the United States barely make ends meet, which makes Holiday shopping virtually impossible. Financial hardships are especially heartbreaking for families with children.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, approximately 9.4 million families (11.6%) live below the poverty level in the United States. The children in these families receive very little, and even though their parents may want to give them the world this Holiday, it’s just not feasible. That’s why we take our Toys for Tots drive very seriously.

At AmeriGas, we believe that every child should have a gift to open up this Holiday season.  We want to do whatever it takes to make this goal happen, that’s why we support gift drives and charitable organizations such as the U.S. Maine Corp’s Toys for Tots.

The U.S. Marine Corp Toys for Tots Foundation is a not-for-profit charity. The Toys for Tots Foundation provides toys to families in need during the Holiday season.

The mission of the Toys for Tots Foundation is one that’s very near to our hearts. We aim to make a difference within the communities that we serve.

We’re proud to say that we not only collect donations at our corporate headquarters, but we also collect donations throughout the country in our local offices. The nationwide initiative will help thousands of families in need this Holiday season. These local-sponsored events include collecting coats, food toys and games, items for shelters, hosting blood drives, and more.

Interested in learning more?  Give your local office a call to learn about the initiatives within your local community.

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Day in the Life: Ice Road Trucker

I recently had an exciting opportunity to speak with one of our drivers, Gus Hoagland.  Gus works in our Fairbanks, Alaska office and he isn’t your typical driver.  Gus is AmeriGas’ one and only Ice Road Trucker.  He goes above and beyond to ensure that the individuals living Northern Alaska have the propane they need to survive the frigid living conditions.

Explain your role at AmeriGas
I’m a Bulk Transport Driver here in Alaska.  I drive a tractor trailer to make deliveries to customers all around Alaska.  When I’m not on the road, I’ll typically jump in wherever help is needed in the office.  I enjoy helping the customers at the counter by providing them with information about our products and services.

How does your role differ from that of a typical bobtail driver?
The interesting part about my job is that I’m one of the only Bulk Transport Drivers in the company.  The rest of the drivers are Bobtail Drivers. One of the major differences between my job and a typical Bobtail driver is that I driver a lot more highway miles.  My trips are also a lot longer than the average bobtail driver.  One of my deliveries is located in North Slope, Alaska—the most northern borough of Alaska.  This is a 500 mile drive and takes me an entire week just to get there due to the inclement weather.

What is it like driving through Alaska?
The roads are a lot harder to maintain in Alaska, which results in harsh road conditions and a more challenging drive.  The weather is also very unpredictable and changes drastically, which adds to the challenge.  Weather conditions can change within a 150 mile radius.  You can easily go from driving in rain to sleet to snow to sun—all within that 150-mile drive.  Although it’s a harsh environment, nothing compares to the beautiful Alaska landscape. 

What is your favorite delivery?
My favorite delivery is definitely the fire training facility.  This facility is where the fire and airborne teams of Alaska attend their training.  I don’t get to visit the facility too often, as they only receive deliveries about 3 times a year, but when I do visit I’m in awe.  The people training at this facility are great individuals.  They’re very warm and welcoming people.  I’ve even had the opportunity to sit in on some of their training.  Seeing what these men do on a regular basis is truly astonishing.

What was the most challenging delivery you’ve ever had?
The inclement weather here in Alaska has definitely resulted in some challenging deliveries.  The one delivery that sticks out the most would have to be this delivery I once made to Homer, Alaska.  It was snowing particularly hard this day, which was challenging enough.  The snow was coming down so hard that my truck got stuck as I was driving on the highway.  I had no other choice but to get out on the middle of the highway to put chains on my wheels. It was very nerve-wracking as I couldn’t see anything due to the weather, which means it’s pretty likely another car wouldn’t have been able to see me.  I moved as quickly as possible to put the chains on my truck so that I could move my truck to safety.  I always try to watch the weather forecast prior to making my deliveries, but more often than not those forecasts are incorrect. 

What’s your favorite part about your job?
Prior to working for AmeriGas, I worked in construction.  I’ve always enjoyed working outside and being able to take in the in the fresh air each day.  What I really love about my current role, which I never really got to experience before, is that I get to go somewhere new every single day.  And nothing can beat the landscape of Alaska.  I see everything from moose trampling down the road to wolves and coyotes running in front of my truck—wildlife that you can’t see in most other parts of the country. I also love the freedom my job gives me to spend time with my family—something I didn’t get at my previous job. 

Have you acquired any hidden skills/talents from your current role?
I wouldn’t classify this as a hidden skill, but I’ve definitely learned a lot about propane and propane safety from my current role.  I think the most valuable lesson I’ve learned in the five years I’ve been at AmeriGas is to take my time and be patient.  At my previous job, everyone was always in a hurry; trying to meet deadlines as quickly as possible.  Since working at AmeriGas I learned to not be in such a hurry all the time, especially when it comes to safety.  If it’s a safety issue, that should be—and is—the number one priority. 

So I hear you’re a second generation AmeriGas employee.  Can you tell me a little more?
Absolutely!  My dad worked at AmeriGas for 30 years and he just recently retired from his role as District Manager.  My dad was actually the one who suggested my career change.  He knew that I wasn’t truly happy in my previous job and let me know about the new position opening up at AmeriGas.  He told me that the current Bulk Transport Driver was going to retire and suggested I try it out—and I’m glad I did!  The previous Bulk Transport Driver worked at AmeriGas for 25 years and was an amazing instructor.  I felt confident taking on the role after his retirement.  At the time, I thought this would be a temporary role, but I ended up falling in love with my job.  

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Holiday Decorating Safety Tips

It’s that time of the year again—the most wonderful time that is!  I’m sure you’re ready to start trimming the tree and unraveling the lights, but before you do make sure you check out our Holiday decorating safety tips.  After all, safety is our top priority!

 

TREES.  If you decide to go with a real tree this Holiday season, be sure the tree is fresh.  You can determine whether or not the tree is fresh simply by looking at the needles.  Fresh needles are difficult to pull from the branches and will not break when you bend them.  Real trees aren’t your thing?  No problem!  Most artificial trees are fire resistant.

LIGHTING.  Always be sure to check each set of lights for broken or cracked sockets, regardless how new the lights are.  To prevent an electrical fire, never use more than three standard-size sets of lights per extension cord.  Be sure to steer clear of electric lights on your metallic tree as they may cause electrocution.  Lastly, always remember to turn off all lights when you go to bed or leave the house.

CANDLES.  Never use candles on a tree or near any evergreens.  When using candles (away from your tree of course), make sure you’re always using non-flammable candle holders.  Avoid any potential fire hazards by making sure your candles are kept away from children and that you never leave a candle burning unattended.

TRIMMINGS.  Always avoid decorations that are sharp or breakable, especially in homes with small children present.  Keep trimmings away from children, especially those with small removable parts, as they can be easily swallowed.  Also be sure to avoid any trimming that resemble candy or food, as a child could easily eat them.

FIRE PLACE.  It just wouldn’t be the holidays without a cup of hot chocolate and a warm fire to cozy up to.  But before you start that fire; be sure to remove all greens, papers and all other decorations in the surrounding area.  To avoid a fire hazard, you’ll also want to make sure you keep your fireplace screen closed while the fire is burning.

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Heating Tips for the Winter: Put Safety First

A guest blog from Dan Rich, Service Manager, ServiceMark Heating, Cooling & Plumbing.

Cold nights signal that the winter weather is not far behind. As our customers (and ourselves) turn on home heaters for the first time this season, what should we all be thinking?  It’s more than just the thermostat setting!

Take a few minutes to review what we should be doing to promote the safe operation of the heating system and other appliances in the home and promote efficiency. This involves not only our homes, but the homes of our valued customers.

First and foremost, families should have a licensed and fully trained and insured technician make a complete system safety check and inspection. This not only saves energy and prolongs the equipment life, but often identifies mechanical and safety concerns that could be a big problem later.

Double check and clear any materials or flammables away from the heater or water heater.

Check the furnace air filter and make a note to re-check and replace those “throw-away” filters monthly.

Make sure that the outside intake and exhaust piping from high efficiency gas heating systems and water heaters are free from any obstructions, including children’s toys, tall weeds, shrubbery and more.

Replace the batteries in your smoke detector and thermostat, if applicable.

Replace batteries in CO monitors where needed. Consider buying “long life” batteries and make sure a monitor is located by the heater and near bedrooms.

Remember, everyday common sense is the best tool at your disposal; use it!

For more home safety and energy saving tips visit ServiceMarkSolutions.com/blog

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Top 8 Energy Saving Tips

(Photo courtesy of Google Images) 

Conserving energy during the cold winter months may seem like an impossible task.  With the temperature dropping, and that heat blasting, it seems that your high energy use is inevitable.  But that doesn’t have to be the case!  We’ve compiled some helpful energy saving tips so you can reduce your energy use and potentially minimize your energy bill this winter!

1.  Caulk around windows and doors
This will prevent cold air from leaking  into your home during winter months.  Without caulking, you’re forcing your furnace to work overtime by attempting to heat a never-ending flow of cold air entering from the outside.

2.  Replace your furnace filter monthly
Your furnace air filter is going to get dirty—that’s what it’s there for.  The air is unable to pass through the filter as the dust and dirt naturally accumulates, forcing the furnace to work that much harder.  By simply replacing your furnace filter each month, you can save approximately 5-15% on your energy bill!

3.  Invest in a furnace thermostat timer
Thermostat timers are great for reducing your energy use.  These timers will lower the temperature in your home when you’re not there.  You can even reduce your energy bill up to 10% by installing a thermostat timer on your furnace this winter.

4.  Consider a fireplace makeover
Propane fireplaces are known for their ability to distribute heat evenly throughout your home, burning more efficiently and cleaner than standard wood-burning fireplaces. Propane fireplaces also provide 5 to 6 times the hearing capacity of an electric fireplace.

5.  Run your appliances with full loads
When it comes to washing, be sure to only wash full loads of dishes and clothes.  This not only helps to save water but you’ll also run your appliances less often, saving you time and energy.

6.  Lower your water heater to 115 degrees
Reducing the temperature of your water heater to 115 degrees may reduce your bill by 10%.  At this setting, your water heater is still heating your water adequately while saving energy.

7.  Invest in a propane water heater
There are a lot of benefit s associated with propane water heaters, especially when compared to their electric counterparts.  Propane water heaters are more efficient and are less costly to operate.  Tankless propane water heaters also provide a continuous supply of hot water with a more accurate temperature adjustment. Don’t forget, experts suggest replacing your water heater every 8-12 years. Is it time to replace yours?

8.  Save money with a flow restricting shower head
Improve your energy efficiency by investing in a flow restricting shower head.  These showerheads have a flow rate less than 2.5 GPMs, but don’t let that concern you!  With these showerheads, you get the best of both worlds.  They reduce the overall water flow without compensating your water pressure!

Want more information on how to reduce your energy usage this winter and how propane can help?  Give your local office a call, or contact one of our energy experts.  We’re more than happy to help!

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Deep Fry That Bird!

It wouldn’t be Thanksgiving without the perfect turkey! We all know there are many different ways to cook a turkey other than the conventional oven method. If you are looking for something different this year then keep reading! We will be breaking down the perfect technique to using your propane powered turkey fryer.

Remember turkey fryers are for outdoors use only. Not in a garage or under the dry pine tree, and definitely not too close to the house. Safety should always be your number one priority before you fry! Make sure you find a spot away from anything which could easily catch fire. Don’t forget to cover the ground in tarps, cardboard or whatever else may absorb the oil that can boil out. There’s a significant 5 foot radius of splatter and you should have an 8 foot radius covered to protect concrete from acquiring permanent oil stains. Keep a fire extinguisher on hand just in case and wear long pants, long sleeves and closed-toed shoes. Also, be sure to use a long oven mitt.

In addition to having a turkey pot and the burner you will definitely need your AmeriGas propane tank and a long-stemmed thermometer. If you are planning to deep fry multiple turkeys make sure you have 2 or 3 AmeriGas propane tanks on hand. Set the AmeriGas tank as far away from the burner as the connection permits.

The most common oil used for turkey frying is peanut oil. Fill your pot up to the max fill line, or a little below depending on how large the turkey is. It should take about 30 minutes to prepare your oil for frying, depending on the outside temperature. Bring your oil to 375° F because when the cool bird is dropped in, the temperature will drop approximately 50°.

Pre-prep your turkey the night before however you see fit. One note to keep in mind is to thaw out your bird for at least 24 hours. Make sure your turkey is patted dry both on the inside and out, this is a critical step in making certain your turkey is cooked properly. While your turkey is waiting to be fried you can be roll it in a plastic bag of flour and pepper and place it on the spindle awaiting its turn in the oil bath. Once your oil is ready remove the plastic bag and use twine to tie the legs and wings to the body.

 

Bring your turkey to the pot and slowly lower it into the oil. No matter how slowly the turkey is lowered there will always be some oil spill. Make sure you know the proper weight of your turkey and follow this rule; for every pound the turkey is, cook for 3.5 minutes. Make sure to keep an eye on the temperature at all times.

The internal temperature of the turkey should be 165° in the breast and 180° in the fattier part of the thigh.

If this is your first experience with fried turkey you will discover the skin is to die for, the meat is succulent and it does not taste the least bit oily. This Thanksgiving, why not try this technique and show off your frying skills! Everyone at your table will be asking for seconds! For more tips on ways to prepare your turkey this Thanksgiving, check out our Facebook page and our blogs.

 

AmeriGas wishes you as safe and Happy Thanksgiving!

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