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Burning Wood Is More Expensive Than Gas!?!?!

Post in 'The Hearth Room - Wood Stoves and Fireplaces' started by SufficientSelf.com, Nov 7, 2010.

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  1. OhioBurner©

    OhioBurner© Minister of Fire

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    I doubt the whole house is that temp, in our house with two stoves I have yet to get the 'new side' of the house with the Rockland over ~71*F and thats with it burning at 600*. Thats in a large great room. The 'old side' of the house with the freestanding stove will get the stove room into the 80's with a good burn but one room away and your dropping pretty quick.

    We dont turn on the A/C when it gets into the 80's either, well except for the one window unit in my sons bedroom (finished attic) since it gets very hot there (if it was 80 out it would probably be 90 in that room). We have one other window unit that we have put in different rooms the last two years but it doesnt run much at all. I like having it cool when I try to sleep during the day in the summer (when I'm on nights) since its so hot in the day and I need my sleep but I can't stand the noise... unless its a 90* day I tolerate the heat better than the noise.

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  2. OhioBurner©

    OhioBurner© Minister of Fire

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    Wish I was as lucky with buying wood... in the Columbus craigslist I often see many in the $100-150 and I have tried 3 different ones and will never go back to any of them. Not full cords, not seasoned, cut to all sorts of unequal lengths, some rotten pieces / bug infested etc. Then there are some I see that are $200+ per cord, maybe those would be better, but I cut my own now.

    The only good quality honest wood seller I have found is my neighbor (retired farmer) and he only advertises by a small handwritten sign in the yard. $60 for level 8' bed full, you haul. Length and size are so consistent I swear he must measure each piece with a ruler and re trim them or something. He didnt cut any this year though, so his good 1yr seasoned stuff is almost gone (maybe 1 more truckload) and then next year his stuff wont really be seasoned.
  3. shawneyboy

    shawneyboy New Member

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    I collect my "free" wood myself. I can get at least a few cords a year from neighbors and friends so I have no need to buy wood. In my area what they call "seasoned" Oak, which needs another year to truely be seasoned goes for 150 delivered. I guess I am lucky to be in an area that Oak is abundant. I can't imagine buying wood but if I needed to even still at 150 a cord, wood would be far cheaper than heating oil. When I bought this home 10 years ago heating oil was less than a buck a gallon. Needless to say, that isnt the case anymore. The cost of heating oil and almost all fuels is going to fluxtuate but the general direction is UP, UP, UP.

    With the devaluation of the US dollar, (QE2) it will only continue in that general direction. I have my oil consumption over the last 4 years, before I got my stove, I have experience burning with other appliances( an insert at my Father's house) so I am not a complete newbie to this, although my current house is. I will be tracking average historic usage and this years true usage. I know that the other expenses, i.e. time, tools, mess, need be factored in on the end but I fully expect my fuel oil to be at LEAST 1k to 1.5k lower this year with prices where they are compared to what I would have payed.

    If my estimates are correct, the stove will break even after a few years, and be all "money in the bank" after that. To me the stove is a finacial investment for heat, with a long teerm pay off. Plus the added other benefits of having my house warmer than it otherwise would be, and I truely enjoy the "work", I consider it exercise.

    The payoff is obviously extremely subjective to ones individual situation, but for me, I know I will see not only financial benefits, but also health and comfortability benefits as well. I don't think there is any one answer to this that you can apply, unless you factor in all of the individual factors, which are obviously as widely different as we on the forum are.

    I do know as others have stated, there is a gigantic self satisfaction looking at my oil bill, or lack there of, in a nice warm comfy house, then looking out back at my stacks and knowing that is just money i the bank.
  4. op_man1

    op_man1 Member

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    Eastern Ontario
    In my areas, a facecord is sold for anywhere between $80-125. So a full cord would be $240-375... Of course, I have never paid for wood but it seems that this is the market rate around here...
  5. Lumber-Jack

    Lumber-Jack Minister of Fire

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    Thanks for the reply Op-man, If I could get that kind of money for firewood I might consider getting into the business. But I guess firewood is just too plentiful around here.
    I don't see how anybody could justify heating their homes at those costs, perhaps they mostly sell to places like fancy ski lodges, or resorts that re-sell small loads to their clients for use in their rental unit fireplaces or something like that. If it is purchased by private individuals I'm guessing it's used for occasional mood ambiance, rather than ongoing domestic heating.
  6. partybob99

    partybob99 Member

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    Loc:
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    In our area, natural gas is around 50.5 cents per CCF (100 cubic feet).
    1 CCF = 103,000 BTUs

    From the data obtained here: According to this chart: http://www.chimneysweeponline.com/howood.htm
    A cord of Red Oak contains 24,000,000 BTUs

    It requires 233 CCFs of natural gas to equal the amount of BTUs in the cord of red oak. The price for this would be about $117.67. This is assuming both the furnance and stove are 100% efficient. At this price it's definitely cheaper to heat with gas.

    Incidentally, the price for NG is as cheap as I've seen it in many years and about 5 years ago it was around 1.25 for a CCF!

    Of course there are certain "intangibles" that come with wood heating.. and I agree, when you got the stove going, the temps in the room are far higher than I'd ever run my NG furnance.
  7. madrone

    madrone Minister of Fire

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    If I lived in the Bay Area with those prices for cord wood, I'd probably go with a gas stove. There are some pretty nice stoves out there, and efficiency keeps improving as well as the look of the flame. I'm nowhere near giving up my wood stove, but I had a gas stove in a rental years ago and loved it. Makes you feel good, but you can turn it on and off with a remote. I have many other reasons for burning wood, but at $300/cord it would be over for me, personally.
  8. 70marlin

    70marlin New Member

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    I've saved no matter what, The biggest reason was to never give the LP man a cent ever again!
  9. Lumber-Jack

    Lumber-Jack Minister of Fire

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    Well one thing that is quite tangible is that if you keep the room tempurature higher in your house, you are using your heating fuel up at a faster rate. No problem if your fuel cost are dirt cheap or free, but if it cost you, it's gona cost you more with warmer room tempuratures, and wood heating is no exception.
  10. Battenkiller

    Battenkiller Minister of Fire

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    I have the same kind of house structure that most everyone has, and I could never stand to be that hot. Christ, even the good Lady BK doesn't want to hang out in the basement where the stove is, and she's a warmth freak. She gets nauseous at that 85-90º temp down there.

    72ºF is just perfect for us, and I get it that way basically all through the upper portions of the house. Even my exterior walls usually read close to 72º on the IR gun, so I guess my house structure is doing OK.


    FWIW Jotul has a handy calculator that you can use to compare estimated fuels costs, based on both the cost of the fuels in your area and the supposed efficiency of your burner:

    http://www.jotul.com/en-us/wwwjotulus/Tools/Fuel-Calculator/

    I don't like to look at it because I'll just get upset that I can't get NG here. Interesting, though, is that they say with a 70% efficient stove I will burn 5.42 cord/year. Well, I burn just under 6 cord now, so why should I invest thousands of dollars to save half a cord/year? Funny, because the local Jotul dealer is trying hard to convince me I'll only burn 2-3 cord per year in an Oslo compared to 6 in my Vigilant. Maybe he should run those numbers through the Jotul calculator.
  11. Badfish740

    Badfish740 Minister of Fire

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    Haha...even the 77 degree picture I posted was too much for me! That was the first night I burned my add-on furnace-needless to say, controlling the temperature in the house has a bit of a learning curve. My wife was cursing me because it was too hot to sleep :lol: We've solved that problem by closing off the vent to the bedroom and keeping the door shut so that even when the rest of the house is at 72 (through much better control of the air supply to the furnace) or so the bedroom remains a nice 66-68 which is perfect for piling on the blankets. If it's extremely cold outside and I've got the add-on cranked up we'll even crack a window overnight just to make sure we don't wake up sweating.
  12. Grisu

    Grisu Minister of Fire

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    My coworkers were complaining when our employer declared to heat only to about 69 to 70 F but apparently do not mind the AC cooling the rooms down to 68 and below in the summer. I usually dress appropriately for the season and freeze to death in the summer and was previously roasted in the winter. (Now it's ok.)

    I am not an insulation expert but when your exterior wall is as warm as your interior, are you sure your house has good insulation?

    The Vermont Public Service Board has a publication comparing the cost of heating with different types of fuel. http://publicservice.vermont.gov/pub/fuel-price-report/10sept.pdf When you follow their assumptions, wood is still a bit ahead of gas. Btw. the going rate for "seasoned" firewood on Craigslist here seems to be about $250 per cord. I guess, we are in the upper range. :-(
    Residential gas prices have come down from their peak in 2008 (http://www.eia.doe.gov/dnav/ng/hist/n3010us3m.htm) and may come down even further considering the current low in the futures. There is currently a big oversupply of gas due to the exploitation of reservoirs that were previously not economical due to a new method called "fracking". Once people realize that pushing underground gallons of naphthalene, diethylbenzene, xylene, formaldehyde, ethylene glycol, hydrochloric acid and other nasty stuff may not be good for our drinking water expect gas prices to shoot up again.
  13. op_man1

    op_man1 Member

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    The funny thing is that I have never had difficulty scrounging for wood, despite the high cost of buying it. Just found another full cord + the other day and picked up about 1/3 of it (my back did not let me take the rest) - and it's still just sitting there! I could probably sell some of mine for the low end of the scale I mentionned but the money is not worth my time.

    Most people here do not heat with wood, for a few reasons - gas is very cheap and this is the middle of an urban center of 1M+. Really, in my mind, heating with wood only makes sense in places where other energy costs are high and where wood is plentyfull and/or cheap.
  14. MNBobcat

    MNBobcat Member

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    I have a 7,000 square foot home. It takes a little over $3,000 in propane to heat for a winter.

    My wood is free other than the cost of my time to cut it. I have an OWB. We find that when heating with the OWB the heat is more consistent and more comfortable. The OWB also heats my attached garage. I keep that at 60F all winter. It heats my hot water, too.

    I'll soon be using the OWB to heat my 40x76 pole building.

    Even if I had to buy 8 foot logs, its still way cheaper than paying for gas.
  15. HeatsTwice

    HeatsTwice Minister of Fire

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    I don't pay for wood, but here in Northern California, a cord of dry oak costs $333 delivered.
  16. SufficientSelf.com

    SufficientSelf.com Member

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    Thanks for all the replies everyone! Sounds like there is a pretty big consensus that when comparing natural gas vs. paying for wood, natural gas is almost always cheaper.

    I feel like I'm back to square one with my heating the house decision. :( It seems like we'll be leaning toward a nice free standing natural gas stove since compared to wood is more convenient, inexpensive, cleaner, and safer (since I won't be sawing / splitting free wood... before you say natural gas is more dangerous, keep in mind we already have it being used throughout our house).

    We still have our crazy old and inefficient wood stove and a huge pile of old dimensional lumber / wood in the back yard. I'm thinking I'll just burn this stuff in the old stove and then get a gas stove installed in its place once all the lumber / dimensional wood is gone.
  17. Renovation

    Renovation New Member

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    I'm one of the lucky ones who can't get NG, so I can be all happy about saving money with wood heat. :roll:
  18. cycloxer

    cycloxer New Member

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    ...it all depends what you pay for the wood!
  19. SufficientSelf.com

    SufficientSelf.com Member

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    Unfortunately where I live I'd have a hard time finding anything worth burning for less than $150 a cord, and that is more or less break even with natural gas in this area.
  20. Dexter

    Dexter Member

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    There is no doubt that it is cheaper to burn wood.

    But: Handling the wood when it is bucked, again when split, when loading the truck, when stacking it at home, when taking it to the stove, and when loading the fire -- that's 6 or more times. Then cleaning the flu and chimney, the extra dusting of the ash around the stove, and sweeping the bark from inside of the house...and the occasional cleaning of the glass...and emptying the ash drawer. How about refurbishing and regasketing the stove every several years? Maintaining the saw, sharpening the chain... Now, how much does all this cost?

    I don't know, and I don't care; it is a peaceful and soothing ritual -- even when the chainsaw is runningl!! And on those nights the power goes out, all our efforts are redeemed 1000 time over. I love it, God, I love it.
  21. kenny chaos

    kenny chaos Minister of Fire

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    The cost of burning cheap/free wood will become overly expensive in your mature years. Let's not be so myopic when discussing the "facts."
    How many people have one chain saw that lasts them 25 years. Yeah I know, a few. But you can bet that most wood burners spend a whole lot more money than they ever admit.
    The propane man will be here at 9:00 a.m. tomorrow in prep for the new supplemental heater and I can't wait!


    EDIT- That shoulda read that burning wood is cheap and fun.
  22. Backwoods Savage

    Backwoods Savage Minister of Fire

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    You are right Kenny. It has been said I am in my "mature years" although my wife says I'm into my second childhood. So maybe it is costing me more?!

    I still cut my own wood and did purchase our present chain say about 10 years ago. But, the gas and oil definitely does cost more than it did back in 1958 or so. But does it? My earnings was not just a little bit smaller back then and although I could buy a 5 gallon can of gas for a dollar, I had to work a long time for that dollar.

    Maybe I do spend a whole lot more money than I admit but have no idea where that money is going. We have a tendency to put the dollars we save by burning wood into the bank and then it draws interest (not much, sadly) but we could also go the other way and say I am too old to cut wood and do all that other work that is involved. So, let's say I bought my wood. At present I could but dry ash, the same type stuff we already burn for $40. per face cord or $120 per cord. That would mean it would cost us $360 per year to heat our house. Maybe that is more than we'd like to admit.

    Oh yes, Kenny, I have had a couple saws last over 25 years. I still have one in the barn that is older than that; I just perfer this new one. The days of me running a saw with a 36" cutting bar is past; thank God for that!

    Our propane man left in disgust years ago.
  23. North of 60

    North of 60 Minister of Fire

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    Unfortunately where I live NG is not an option. Until then, oil is almost $5 a gal so I will stick to burning my pine/poplar and spruce. People pay $225 a cord for it here and it will actually be, beetle kill spruce dropped off in rounds. I can haul it for $65 and cut at the landing. Off and on I will scrounge standing dead from the local bush with a legal free permit. That wood will be lodge pole pine that I call Yukon Oak.
  24. kenny chaos

    kenny chaos Minister of Fire

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    And we should all sit while splitting because it's easier for you that way. :roll:
  25. Backwoods Savage

    Backwoods Savage Minister of Fire

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    BeGreen I have made the same points in a different way.

    Why, during summer months, folks can't wait for the temperatures to be above (sometimes way above, like 90+), yet, when winter comes they don't want their homes to be over 70 degrees?!! I've never quite figured this out.

    It gets to the point that many will mock me when I say we keep out home around 80 degrees in the winter.

    Don't get me wrong, I do enjoy the lower temperatures, so long as it is outdoors. As for 85+, that is when we turn the air conditioner on.
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