BANTAM, CT. – Bantam Home & Energy, which has been offering propane as a clean-burning, safe and affordable energy alternative to its customers for more than 25 years, has now converted the first of its own fleet of vehicles to run on propane.
In August, the company converted one of its 8-cylinder E-250 Ford service vans into a dual-fuel vehicle that can use both gasoline and propane, according to Peter Aziz, the company’s president. The driver can select which fuel the van uses by simply throwing a switch.
The conversion, which was performed by North American Equipment Upfitters of Hooksett, N.H., cost Bantam Home & Energy about $6,000, but Aziz is convinced the benefits of running the vehicle on propane far outweigh the conversion cost, both from an environmental and a business perspective.
“Running the vehicle on propane decreases harmful emissions, lowers our operating cost, improves engine performance and increases engine life,” he said. “We think converting that van to a dual-fuel vehicle was a very sound and practical decision. It’s a winning proposition no matter how you look at it.” Aziz calculates that the propane-fueled service van will save his company about $4,000 per year in fuel costs alone.
Over its first few months on the road, Aziz has noticed that his dual-fuel service van tends to “operate more smoothly and have better acceleration” when it is running on propane. Statistically, propane vehicles require less maintenance, promote longer engine life and are less harmful to the environment, because propane burns cleaner than gasoline with fewer emissions.
Calling the current dual-fuel vehicle his “beta test,” Aziz said he has been monitoring and collecting data on the van’s performance through the winter months. Should it continue to perform well, he will gradually convert his entire fleet of 10 service vans into dual-fuel vehicles over the next few years.
Propane, a by-product of petroleum refining and natural gas processing, is a versatile fuel that has many applications. Aziz estimates that one of every four homes in Northwest Connecticut, an area that does not have natural gas service, uses propane either as a home heating fuel or as a fuel to cook with, produce hot water, or power dryers, grills, fireplace inserts and generators.
He said the company’s vehicles will continue to use both propane and gasoline into the foreseeable future because there are no convenient propane fueling stations in Northwest Connecticut at the present time and he doesn’t want to run the risk of a van running out of fuel while making a late-night service call to a remote location on a cold, snowy night.
“I think propane is going to prove to be the way to go, and I’d love to be running the entire fleet on propane alone at some point in the future, but we plan to take it one step at a time,” he said.
Bantam Home & Energy, which was founded in 1930 and acquired by the Aziz family in 1979, serves about 6,000 customers in a 20-town region that includes most of Litchfield County and a portion of western New Haven County.
For more information go to bantamhome.com or call 860-567-9431. Aziz said he would welcome queries and comments from anyone interested in learning more about propane-fueled vehicles.