Living in Andalucía - Utilities

BUTANO (Bottled Butane Gas)
By Dee McMath

Andalucia has grown up very quickly over the last twenty years or so, but there are some old habits and forms of energy supply that are still very much alive and being used in this part of the world. The large orange gas bottle, somewhat emblematic of a rather old-fashioned lifestyle still exists along side the clean lines of modern living, which are becoming more common now. Although it is not so evident in new buildings, many older properties still rely on replacement Butano gas bottles for cooking, heating and water heating. It is dying out mainly due to the inconvenience of constantly replacing the bottles. If you run out during the weekend or on a bank holiday - you could be left without hot water, heating or cooking facilities until another bottle can be delivered from the depot on a weekday.

Many traditional Spanish families still rely on the Butano lorry passing by to replace the empty canister with a full one.

If you buy or rent an older property in Andalucia, it may well have the Butano gas bottle in the kitchen, bathroom or even for the water heater. If this is the system in place, you should ask at the outset, where the local supplier is and how you get in touch with them.

There are centres of distribution of Butano Gas bottles in and around towns and villages in Andalucia and in order to be able to buy a continued supply or to use this form of energy from the beginning; you need to set up a contract with Repsol Butano S.A. It is possible to do this on-line, in the first instance. This is normally in Spanish, it may be simpler to find out where your local distributor is and go there personally to fill in the necessary details. To find out where to obtain these gas bottles, ask at any retailer who sells the heaters, which take the gas bottles. Ironmongers (ferreterías), electrical household appliance shops and also large department stores still sell a lot of these types of heaters.

To be able to have a contract for the supply of the gas bottles, you will first need to have an inspection of the dwelling and the gas installations, for health and safety reasons.

You will need various documents to hand in order to have your contract drawn up and approved:

  • Photocopy and original of your ID details (either passport or Spanish NIE number)
  • Photocopy and original of another utility bill from the same address for the Butano contract application
  • Certificate of the Technician who will have made a prior inspection of the installations. (You arrange this in preparation of drawing up the contract).

There is an initial cost attached to the new contract (approximately 80 euros) and there will be follow up inspections every five years at a cost today of around 40 euros. The present cost of the Butano gas bottle is just under 9 euros. Like the price of petrol and as with this type of energy resource, the cost fluctuates from time to time depending on conditions of supply.

There are also smaller Butano gas bottles specially designed fro smaller heaters and appliances. These are about a third the size of the regular container and cost around 12 euros each. You will be expected to sign a contract when buying the first full container, but you will not require having an inspection as with the larger version. The delivery trucks do not carry the smaller ones and only a few ironmonger shops sell them. You local Butano dealer will be able to tell you where they are available.

Although it is always advisable to follow these official steps for a safe and legal supply of gas bottles, you can sometimes find old empty gas bottles for sale at car boot sales or even on eBay for anything from 10 to 20 euros. In buying a used gas bottle, you can avoid the time and expense of the contract, by simply exchanging the empty for a full bottle when you next see the lorry selling full bottles in the neighbourhood. You should be aware, however, that if there is any accident or damage done, it will be your own negligence and you will be liable for any damages. It is surely better to be safe rather than sorry.

CEPSA (Propane bottled Gas)

There are also now newer versions of the more familiar orange Butano gas bottle. CEPSA, now offer another, similar product, in a more modern looking, aluminium container which weigh much less than the heavy orange Butano. You can pick up these containers often at some petrol stations or have them delivered to your door by contacting the CEPSA distributor in your area. A start up contract is required, but the deliveryman can draw this up with your initial purchase. There is a general CEPSA telephone enquiry line: 902416416 and website at www.cepsa.es - but both are in Spanish, so if you have a problem with the language and have an enquiry, it would be best to ask a Spanish speaking friend to assist.