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Gas Battles

Brrrrrr! It’s incredible how cold 13C can feel! Spanish homes are built for the hot summer, not the cool winter, and it’s not uncommon for it to feel warmer outside on the balcony than it does inside thanks to the tiled floors. With no mains gas here in Guardamar, many people rely on electric heaters, but they are incredibly expensive to run. Instead, we decided on a gas heater which can be wheeled around the flat to wherever it is needed. Anywhere else we have lived this is a straightforward procedure, but this is Spain!

First and foremost we needed a heater. We had looked in the windows of a few places and the cheapest one we could find was €99. That seemed like rather a lot as we only want a basic model to fire up for a few
minutes to take the edge of the cold. In the end we found ourselves in Leroy Merlin (it’s a bit like Homebase in the UK) in Torrevieja, looking for other things, when we stumbled across just what we were
looking for at a bargain price of just €49. Offers like that aren’t too common so good luck finding one!

Next we had to find a gas bottle. We called in to our local Repsol garage which had loads of them outside. The nice man inside said that we could get one there and sort out our contract with him. We didn’t have the required documents with us though so we went back with them later the same day. The afternoon shift said it was impossible to sort out the contract there and then. We would have to travel to Almoradí to do so. This seemed ridiculous, but a trip to another garage stocking the same bottles confirmed the news. They gave us a leaflet with the details on it.

A bit of online research suggested that we might pick up an empty bottle at a market. Having an empty simply means going to a garage to exchange it for a full one. Sadly neither Zoco Market nor the one on
the Lemon Tree Road could provide. Not to worry, we generally prefer to do things within the system the legal way.

So, here’s what you have to do to get a gas bottle if you live in Guardamar (or anywhere nearby).

1. Make your way to Almoradí. You need to go to Hnos Martí Pomares on Calle Canalejas. We had phoned in advance to check we were going to the right place.

2. Ignore the TVs, fridge freezers, microwave ovens and sales staff. At the back of the store you will find the Repsol desk. The ladies there only speak Spanish so take a friend with you if you don’t think
you can manage. The required vocabulary wasn’t too difficult though.

3. Hand over your NIE, Passport and Padron certificate then let the ladies do their job. A few minutes later (depending on how many phone calls they take in the mean time) they will hand you a contract, in
triplicate, and ask you to sign all three copies.

4. Pay for your bottle. At the moment they are not asking for a deposit. This seemed a bit strange as it made it so much cheaper than what the man at the Repsol garage had said it would be. Not complaining though!! The bottle cost just over €21.

5. Remember to ask for a regulator and rubber tube. Today I learned that the tube is simply called goma in Spanish, and not tubo as I had asked for. The clips to secure the tube are not called clip either,
they are called abrazadores, “huggers” in English! These cost a further €17 but with no deposit paid, it didn’t seem too painful.

Getting to stage 6 was a bit more problematic though. Armed with receipts I was directed out towards Dolores on the road out of town. The instructions were to turn right at the CEPSA garage 2 or 3
roundabouts away, and look for the almacen on the right. It was only a 5 minute drive but we were never sure we were going to the right place!

6. Having found the right place, park up near some gas bottles and either find someone or wait for them to find you. Hand over your receipt and they will give you a bottle. Be warned – it is service
without a smile.

7. Go home and struggle to connect the hose to your heater and regulator. Forget to put the “huggers” on and take the hose off again, put the “huggers” on and struggle once again to connect the hose. Tighten the “huggers” then connect the regulator to the gas bottle.

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If you have read the instructions which came with your heater you should now be in a position to enjoy warm evenings. Check your instructions so that you know how to turn the heater off afterwards!!!

This is all well and good but if you don’t speak Spanish and/or have your own transport, I’m not quite sure what you need to do. Ask a friend, perhaps!

When the gas bottle is empty we will have two options. We could take the empty to a garage stocking the orange Repsol bottle and exchange it. Otherwise we could phone the nice lady in Almoradí and request for
the gas man to come round with a replacement the next day. I guess it will depend on how quickly we want a new gas bottle. Still, for now, we are happy.

If you enjoyed this article, you can read more about Russ and his life in Spain at www.rrruss.com/mifotomundo or about his explorations of lesser known Spain at www.anythingbutpaella.com

Part of the This Is Spain Network. Operated by Costa Insider SL.