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Advice needed

Post in 'The Wood Shed' started by HollowHill, May 8, 2011.

  1. snowleopard

    snowleopard Minister of Fire

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    This seems like a wise suggestion, and I commend our PA friend for making it. Not living in coal country, I don't tend to think of that as an option, but I grew up with it as a child, and it worked well ('til my parents switched over to NG, and we were never warm again). There are many factors to take into consideration in living the wood stove lifestyle. If you're looking at the new Woodstock stove, it's going to be a major investment, and one that will need to make a big impact on your heating bill to be a practical one. If your husband's health issues are progressive, and if you are an older couple, you may be making a decision that you will find more difficult to keep up over the years. If there were two of you doing this, I wouldn't say that, but if it's just you, and this will not be the only responsibility you'll be shouldering, I urge you to consider this carefully. If you have family and friends that are available and looking for ways to help, then by all means take them up on this.

    Yes, there is a six-month guarentee, and they are confident for a good reason, but even if you love it, it's still going to be a more expensive stove than some. Dennis has pointed out that he and his wife are using a lot less wood with their Fireview than they did with other stoves, so that might be a non-issue.

    And--no offense intended--you mentioned you were stubborn. If you know this about yourself, you know to beware the decisions formed on the basis of, "I"ve got a plan and nothing will sway me from it". Why not take a little time now to look at all your options? Are there other ways to bring down heating costs? Are you in a large house where rooms could be shut off during the coldest months? Could you travel during the winter and leave the heat turned down? Is downsizing an option? Obviously, you don't need to answer any of those questions here--just trying to demonstrate that there are many choices available.

    I've got a bum knee, and it's just me and my teenage son, now that my daughter is away at college. This last year was a real struggle, as I had installed a stove for a backup, and my `just in case' happened in January--boiler went out, and I had to keep that fire burning from there on out. I'm going to be working hard this summer to make sure I don't have a winter like that again, but I'm just saying--if it was easy, everyone would be doing it already. Think things through, get on here and run your what-if scenarios as much as you want--and you'll find the right answer for your family over time.

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  2. SolarAndWood

    SolarAndWood Minister of Fire

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    +1. Coal is readily available in the area and a lot cheaper than buying wood for the same btus let alone the convenience of pre-seasoned fuel that produces long predictable burns.
  3. HollowHill

    HollowHill Minister of Fire

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    Ballpark I burn about 1500 gallons of oil. But, this is both heating and domestic hot water, I'm not sure how to split it out to just reflect the heating, so I used 1500. I multiplied this by 140,000 Btu/gal and multiplied that by .65 efficiency of oil furnace to get 136.5 Mbtu Annually. To figure wood required, I divided the 136.5 MBtu Annual need by (19.6MBtu/cord times .85 woodstove efficiency) and got 8.2 cords. Am I in the ballpark there, or did my math and assumptions take a radical wrong turn somewhere along the way? If the 8.2 is correct, and given that some of the 1500 was used for hot water, not heating, the 8.2 might then be more than I need, but I'm also figuring I might not be able to run the stove at top efficiency, so the inflated 8.2 need might offset the lack of optimal efficiency. Scientist I'm not ;)
  4. HollowHill

    HollowHill Minister of Fire

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    That is a good suggestion, and I have started looking into it. My limited experience with coal has been less than positive - thinking dirty in a black soot over everything type of way. I don't know of anyone around here that uses it and wonder why. I looked at the Harman coal stove and it has an air filter, which makes me wonder why is an air filter desirable, does it negatively affect indoor air quality (back to the black soot over everything idea)? Also, my husband is not in favor of its carbon footprint.

    There are others on this forum that don't process their own wood. I've looked at cost comparison and wood is always listed as one of the cheapest alternatives, even if you are purchasing it.
  5. HollowHill

    HollowHill Minister of Fire

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    I like to think of myself as not ancient yet ;) I'm 54, sturdily built, healthy as a horse, although not as physically fit as I should be. My son is 14 and anxious to help, at least at this point ;) I'm hoping that my husband's health problems will stabilize, but only time will tell. He'll never get to the point where he can help much, it's just not in the cards.

    I hear what you're saying about factoring in my stubbornness, not offended in the slightest, it's just the way I am and well known to most. I have been thinking this over for several years and pursued many avenues, most of which dead ended. Given a variety of factors (not least of which is lack of funds), this seems to be the most viable option. I work from home and only part time, am in an area where wood is abundant, have more than enough woodland to support a woodburning habit if I can get someone to cut it, and if not, bought wood is still way cheaper than oil. I do realize that I have a significant amount of hard work ahead of me, and I hope that I am up to it (hoping sheer stubbornness will carry the day, gotta try and utilize these whopping character flaws somehow).

    I must say I've been inspired by your story as I've followed it over the past year, as well as the other women on the forum who are getting it done. Hope I can join this elite group. If not, it won't be my first mistake, alas, but the return policy of Woodstock will take some of the bite out of defeat, and I think I ought to be able to save enough in oil to offset the cost of installation and wood purchase (I'm currently paying $787/mo year round on a budget plan, this monthly cost has been adjusted twice since the start of the plan due to spiking oil prices). But, the trepidation factor is building, I seesaw from hope to nausea to the point of oscillating ;)

    I really do appreciate all the input I've received. Please don't think it's going in one ear and out the other, it does take the scenic route and I am considering intently all that's being advised.
  6. snowleopard

    snowleopard Minister of Fire

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    ROFL about the elite comment, but welcome to the 'hood--we are kinda special, now that I think about it. You sound intrepid, and around here I don't thnk stubborn is seen as a character flaw. Determined. Persistent. It's all in the spin. Speaking of lack of funds, is there a municipal or county/borough or state program to help with heating upgrades? That tax credit was a deal-maker for me. I know there are other programs like that.

    Also, you may want to investigate hybrid stoves--ones that will burn coal and wood. I know they're out there--and that's about all I know about them--just ask around. If they're any good, then you've got more options open, and options are a good, good thing.

    I use a rougher rule of thumb for calculating wood useage. I look at people with similarly-sized houses and heating seaons and how much they burned in fuel oil, and how much wood they needed and what kind--not scientific, more like making chicken soup. I have a 2000sf house, use about 830 gallons of oil a year, and don't heat my DHW with it. I'm thinking I'll use about 4-5 cords of wood a year, if I have no other source of heat, but won't know until I have wood stacked in known quantities to use. By this time next year, I hope to be able to report just how much fuel the house took in terms of birch/poplar/fuel oil (assuming my boiler gets back online).

    I went with a mid-size stove and I'm glad I did. I can get overnight burns, but am not roasted out by this, and I think people who oversize with stove sometimes have problems with not consistently running theirs hot enough on a regular basis. Talked to a friend who went with a BK Princess for a similarly sized house, also superinsulated, and she said that it roasts them out--they can't build a fire in it for an overnight burn if they're going to be in it for the next 12 hours, because it cooks them out. I want to talk to her some more--Ithink there might be something wrong there--but it confirmed for me that the stove I had was the right choice. Oughta be, considering the mental blood, sweat, and tears that went into the decision-making process.

    I wish we had a database of that info here. We've got so much combined experience on this forum, I'd love to see that compiled. House size/climate (or degree heating days or some such uniform measure)/stove (or at least, stove size)/former fuel used to heat (annual useage)/current fuel use (whether wood alone or a combo, and if so, how much of which). As a new woodburner, would you find that sort of repository useful? What do the rest of you think?

    Great to hear that you have a jr. woodburner on hand to help. That tips the scale in your favor. I have a truck now (an F250 flatbed w/2WD--but the price was right) and a saw that I'm still pretty nervous about using. I've had other people cut with it for me, though, so it's good to have for that. I'll get there--I hope. I don't know why I'm so dang nervous about it--I've used chain saws before, including alone--now I wonder what I was thinking. But I've seen and heard about a few nasty accidents along the way, and have more respect for the what-ifs.

    ETA: I re-read your post, and yikes! if you are paying almost 10K a year for heating your house, I think you could call woodstock and order the monobeast in gold plating, air-freighted overnight, and keep a wood-burner on staff for those prices. No wonder you're crunching these numbers.

    Here's another thought. Get the best chimney you can afford, and put in a barrel stove with a steel barrel. Start putting aside the money you'd save on oil, and pay cash for that new stove in a year or two. It will give you plenty of time to get the wood thing sorted out, and learn more about what you want. Unless you are mandated to use an EPA stove by local regs or insurance, that is. (A barn will build a house, but a house will never build a barn.) Barrel stoves are more forgiving about what you can burn in them, giving you time to get some good seasoned wood up. They rock. And they're good learner stoves. And you're in Elm country (I tend to think of the northern east coast as a neighborhood, because we're a little spread out here), and those stoves are gorgeous and can sometimes be had inexpensively. Again, another option.
  7. mayhem

    mayhem Minister of Fire

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    I'm not sure I follow you 100%, I have no idea wht you mean by finding someone to cut and split on shares. Do you mena have someone help you make a bunch of firewood and then you guys split 50/50? Just get yourself some tools and get to work. You've got the wood and its already down from the sound of it.

    $240 a cord for wood is too pricey in my opinion. You can do better.
  8. bja105

    bja105 Member

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    Carbon footprint?!?! Ha, what is exhausted when you burn.... anything? Natural gas, oil, wood, it all makes Carbon dioxide, a basic building block of TREES! Seriously, what has more of a "footprint," coal mined by your neighbors in PA and shipped a few miles, or Oil drilled by foreigners who hate us and shipped halfway around the world? Or wood cut with a two stroke saw, split by a gas splitter, trucked in by a diesel,... Just playing devil's advocate.

    Off of my soapbox, coal is in no more dirty than wood. Not a bit more combustion waste than wood, no bark.

    If your concern for the earth is real, perhaps you need a smaller, tighter house. We heat our primary residence for under $200 a month all electric (coal fired electricity)! Its a small house for 6 of us, but a big house is not our priority. Good luck
  9. HollowHill

    HollowHill Minister of Fire

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    double post, sorry.
  10. HollowHill

    HollowHill Minister of Fire

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  11. SolarAndWood

    SolarAndWood Minister of Fire

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    We were at a similar point when we bought our house. The previous owner was going through 3-4000 gallons of lp a year and contract price was 4.25/gallon. Didn't take much to pay for the stove but we have gone through a lot of wood. I think your 8 cord estimate is probably a little light if you are using that much oil.
  12. Dune

    Dune Minister of Fire

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    Coal is the worst thing you can do to the enviroment. It is not O.K. to burn coal unless you have no other choice.

    Sounds like you have lots of year old tops. Get cutting. Anything under 6" or so doesn't need splitting. Smaller diameter branches season much quicker. Shorter rounds season faster. Cut all your wood shorter if you want it to season faster. I cut between 10- 14 inches. Shorter rounds are WAY easier to split.

    Buy a light but powerful chainsaw like a stihl with a 16" blade. Leave all the stuff that needs splitting till later, but stack it on pallets so it will season. When you have a massive pile, rent a splitter.
  13. Dune

    Dune Minister of Fire

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    Hi, pal. Good to have you here.
    Can you please limit your input to topics you have actual knowledge of?
  14. snowleopard

    snowleopard Minister of Fire

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    [/quote]

    The story goes that the Elm was born out of the same design-a-stove contest that produced the Vermont Castings Defiant. I would do the homework as far as safety and dependability are concerned, but I don't feel like I"m mis-steering you by suggesting you consider looking into this. Here's a link to get more info: http://www.vermontironstove.com.

    That would be another use for the database. You could use it to easily locate an Elm owner, perhaps even two of them . . .

    ETA: wkpoor has the Elm.
  15. bja105

    bja105 Member

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    How about some facts, instead of belittling. You come across as a teenager. I would welcome an adult discussion. I don't think this not so young lady and her not so healthy husband would benefit from the wood lifestyle we enjoy. The physical part to make their own firewood isn't going to happen for these folks. Yes she may be able to buy all of her wood and still save over fuel oil, but she would still be at the mercy of a supply chain, just like oil, coal, electric etc. The problem with the firewood supply chain seems to be that it is not so profitable, so it won't be as dependable. When you buy a gallon of heating oil, a ton of coal, a cubic foot of natural gas, a kilowatt hour of electricity , you know what you are getting, and delivery is dependable. With wood, not as much. Now, she might end up enjoying hunting down suppliers, negotiating, planning next years supply... It sounds fun to me.

    Original poster, is there any natural gas in your neighborhood? Natural gas prices are dropping and with all the new production in PA and NY, prices could stay low. One gas company man said the Shale gas will be made into propane, but I don't know if that is true, yet.

  16. HollowHill

    HollowHill Minister of Fire

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    Funny you should ask as we are in an area - Marcellus Shale - that has attracted a lot of drilling attention. They haven't started drilling by me yet, but I imagine they will at some point. However, since we live so far out in the boonies, there is no access to NG here, nor would I imagine there will be in the future, just like we won't get cable or cell phone reception :) I don't think I'll mind tracking down wood in the future, once I get ahead and have a little breathing room. I'd like to get one year ahead this year, 2 years ahead next year, etc. Of course, a little knowledge and experience in knowing what to look for, won't hurt either. Thanks for your suggestions.
  17. Dune

    Dune Minister of Fire

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    Facts;

    I am not a teenager, though I may act like one.

    My ONLY concern is for the earth, that is the reason I post on this forum.

    Coal is much dirtier than wood! That is an ir-refutable fact. Much more than CO2 is released from burning coal.

    When wood is burned it releases only the CO2 it collected during it's lifespan, maintaining a balanced level in the atmosphere.

    When coal is burned CO2 collected millions of years ago is ADDED to the atmosphere.

    Coal and oil are the building blocks of the chemical industry; when they are all burned up manufacturing costs will skyrocket.

    Products manufactured from coal and oil can be recycled retaining on average 95% of the mass, when burned no usable mass is retained.

    I did not belittle you, I made a statement of fact.

    Discuss.
  18. Exmasonite

    Exmasonite Feeling the Heat

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    Not sure if this was mentioned but what about a wood pellet stove and ordering a couple tons of pellets?
  19. HollowHill

    HollowHill Minister of Fire

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    Went that route with my mother. She has a Harman P68 and a tighter house than mine. She burns through 2 bags a day and gets negligible heat from it - mid 60s at best. So, I figure that is definitely a no-go in my situation. Some people around here swear by them, but you couldn't prove it by me.
  20. Exmasonite

    Exmasonite Feeling the Heat

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    Huh... that is very surprising.

    All i can say is that heat is heat... if a pellet stove can't get the job done, i'm not sure a wood stove is going to be more effective.
  21. Backwoods Savage

    Backwoods Savage Minister of Fire

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    Cutting on shares is indeed possible and we've done it ourselves. However, I don't know where you came up with the 50/50 split and for sure you would have no takers with that. I look at cutting wood the same as renting farm land. It is very common to rent land on 1/3 - 2/3. But with the firewood, the owner would not be furnishing anything other than the wood, then I feel a 1/4 - 3/4 is a bit more fair and it is entirely possible to find someone but it might also take some searching.
  22. Backwoods Savage

    Backwoods Savage Minister of Fire

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    I have a nephew who thought the very same thought and even tried his best to talk me into the same stove as his. However, I have to dress a whole lot warmer when I go to his place and I also notice how heavily they dress during the winter months. I'll stay with wood heat and they can buy their pellets. I ever recall one year when they could not find any more pellets and it was only the end of January! I like wood heat!
  23. Doing The Dixie Eyed Hustle

    Doing The Dixie Eyed Hustle Minister of Fire

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    Okey Dokey :p Boy am I late to this thread, although Snows been doing a damned good job for Da Sistahood ;-)


    Welcome the the forums, HH, and Da Sistahood! Sounds like it's time to get the ducks in a row, so to speak. I'm doing a thread review to post, so it might take a while :)


    And don't mind Dune and his current foe, that's an Ash Can topic if ever I saw one ;-P


    Sounds like you have the wood, just need to process it, which takes time, and help. Glad your son is willing to help (or am I thnking of Snows free labor ???? :p) Buying the wood was a smart move, I'd get more, myself. The price is what it is for what it is. It's still wayyyy cheaper than oil. It's money in the bank, if wood is your final decision. If it is not, you'll use the wood to get a coal stove going, so it's a win/win.


    Regarding the coal. It comes in 50 lb bags ( atleast it does here). We heated with it when I was a kid, 3 ton, delivered in September. Decent heat. It was dusty back then (70's oil crisis). It is my understanding that the new coal stoves are much tighter. They do make stoves that burn coal & firewood, that might be an option for you. Something to think about. I'm pondering a coal stove (amongst others) for a hard to heat area of my house.

    I like the idea that a coal stove or a wood stove will give you heat in a power failure, whereas a pellt stove would not, an issue to think about considering where you live.


    Again, welcome to the forums , hope we're helping:)
  24. Dune

    Dune Minister of Fire

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    Umm, thanks? Actualy Eileen, it is more of a Green Room, topic, it has been covered there many times in the past.
  25. HollowHill

    HollowHill Minister of Fire

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