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Does heating with wood really save money??

Post in 'The Hearth Room - Wood Stoves and Fireplaces' started by Swedishchef, Oct 8, 2012.

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  1. pen

    pen There are some who call me...mod. Staff Member

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    It's like anything, if you do the sweat equity yourself, you'll save money. The more work you farm out, the costlier things get. I do all my own vehicle repair. When "x" is broken on a car, and I tell the wife I need "x" money for additional tools to fix it, she doesn't blink an eye as she knows that's still cheaper than than having the mech at 60 bux an hour do the work, and she knows those tools will fix something else down the road. You have to look at wood stoves the same way.

    I relined my chimney myself for under 500 dollars, bought my (current) wood stove one year used for 450 dollars, and cut, split, haul the wood myself for nothing more than the cost of my time and the gas (which has a real value, but in the scheme of things not much as I'm not missing work for it and not missing out on overtime opportunities).

    When I cut / split wood, I generally do it with a few buddies. That means we get to BS / have a few beers after / turn the work into a bunch of fun. That said, the cost of doing it in terms of gas and time comes out to be the same or less as it would have been to sit with the same buddies at the bar for that amount of time and catch up, or else go to a movie, go out to dinner, etc, etc.

    Also, how many folks spend gas / time / money going to a gym to work out? I get my workout on firewood for myself, my cabin, my friends cabin, my grandmother, etc, etc.

    That said, for some folks it's a labor of love. If it's not, then either find a way to make it such, or else turn the furnace on if there isn't a way to justify the costs / work.

    pen

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  2. rideau

    rideau Minister of Fire

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    I'm not following all of that last post, but if your bill was 1890 kh for 60 days, you used over 31 /day, which means any you used for electric heat would be at the rate of 7.51 cents, 50 % higher than the rate you quoted originally, while we now realize your actual cost was about 60 % higher. So, 7.5 cents x 1.6 = 12 cents per kwh...now you are really starting to save money with wood heat.

    Not sure about what you are saying with all the other figure...Is it that if you heat with wood you can get a reduced basic energy charge of 4.3c/kWh, plus a multiplier x40.64 c / day, where presumably the multiplier is 12.5 (from your statement at power demand) = $5.08 / day ? If so, with your average use of 31 kWh/day, you are talking $5.08 + (31 x .043) 1.33 = $6.41/day x 60 days = $384 ???
    plus any delivery charges and taxes....and forget the charge when it is cold out! I'm likely not following......since this doesn't sound like any deal.

    And then if you go over 50 kWh ( which you would presumably do if you were heating with electricity, since your electricity usage for a few warmer months was 31 + per day, will go up in winter when it takes more power to heat colder water, but hopefully won't do if heating with wood... ) a surcharge of $6.21 per kWh???

    I don't get it, but it doesn't really matter. What does matter is your new stated cost of .075 plus add ons = really .12 c/kWh, which brings you much closer to the norm, and clearly makes it profitable to heat with wood...You'd probably be talking more like $3400 for electric heat....
  3. blacktail

    blacktail Minister of Fire

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    I have forced air electric heat from when my house was built in 1990.
    My PUD account since I bought my house:
    09/03/2012 $61.73
    06/29/2012$63.27
    04/30/2012$87.63
    03/01/2012$95.69
    12/30/2011$100.84
    10/27/2011$59.17
    08/30/2011$13.86

    The previous owners of my house heated with 100% electricity and their bills were between $300 and $400 during peak heating.
    Every now and then during winter my heat would be on when I got home from work at night. I'm sure a lot of the winter increase was due to my water heater in the garage.
    Off the top of my head, I think my insert + installation was $2200. Add $400 for my saw. I probably burned a couple tanks of gas in my truck for wood over the last year.
    Most of the wood I'll burn this season was cut on my own property. Wood for future heating seasons will come from my property and other sources that will only cost me gas.
    Wait, I'll have to add in what I spent on lumber for my shed too. That was probably a few hundred.
    I'm not interested in doing the math. It'll take me a few years to recoup what I spent.
    I JUST LIKE WOOD HEAT.
    pen likes this.
  4. Swedishchef

    Swedishchef Minister of Fire

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    Hey guys... I guess I certainly shook the hornet's nest on this one. LOL.

    The one thing you are all forgetting is that my utility bill includes cooking, hot water, clothes dryer, water pump, lights and all other forms of electricity. Not just heat. Everyone compares wood with electricity but nobody takes into consideration that they also have monthly utility bills on top of wood costs. Like I mentioned in an earlier post, I love cutting wood and burning wood. I simply wanted to get a glimpse and other's situations regarding heating. I find myself attempting to defend electrical heating which is really not my goal..I just want to compare apples to apples.

    Rideau...

    If you read the post where I cut/paste my bill, it states that the billing period was for 64 days. Therefore 29.5 Kwh per day.

    If you have a dual energy furnace or heat pump, Hydro Quebec encourages you by giving a super low rate at a warmer temperature for electricity. However, once the temperature reaches a particular number (based on geographical areas..helps recude the grid demand) the rate quadruples! My in-laws have this as their furnace is electric/oil. They got the system installed when oil was $0.65 a litre. (15 years ago). HydroQuebec also provided financial incentives to convert to a dual energy system. At -13C the furnace automatically changes to oil from electric. The multiplier is normally 1. I encourage you to read this link about the program if you have time http://www.hydroquebec.com/residential/tarif-residentiel.html. My rates will never be 12c/Kwh at the current cost I get charged. My largest bill since I have been in my house (don't forget I supplement my electrical heat with wood) was $309 for 65 days and a total of 3830 Kwh (58.92 Kwh/day which converts to $4.76 a day in electricity) and 8.1c/Kwh total costs.

    I can't seem to get that paragraph to non-bold..dunno how it went bold..damn gremlins!
  5. Swedishchef

    Swedishchef Minister of Fire

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    I think it is obvious we all like wood heat or wouldn't be on this Forum...however Blacktail said it best "I JUST LIKE WOOD HEAT"
    Backwoods Savage likes this.
  6. rdust

    rdust Minister of Fire

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    Propane or oil are my only choices and I save a bundle compared to propane. I paid for my first stove, chimney reline, chimney pipe, hearth pad etc in the first season, paid for the trailer, splitter and saws the second season with money left over from the savings. Not hard to do when propain cost you 3-4k a year.

    In the end I really enjoy the heat and my house is also a ton more comfortable burning wood. The only downside is the time involved takes a little away from time with the wife and little ones. I get 5 weeks of vacation a year so I usually use a day here and there so I don't cut into their time too terribly bad.
    Backwoods Savage likes this.
  7. BrianK

    BrianK Guest

    I installed my Woodstock Fireview at the end of January 2012 and burned through March. We used approx 50 MCF of natural gas in January, 13 MCF in February and March. At approx. $7 per MCF of natural gas we saved about $260 in February and March this past winter which was exceptionally mild. I am anticipating at least that kind of savings on average for November through March or about $1300 per year.

    I've bought several loads of kiln dried oak ends from a local hardwood manufacturer at $33 per cord for a total of about 5 cords. Otherwise I'm just scrounging downed wood from wood lots behind my office, at my parent's home, and at friend's, all free.

    I found the ten year old hardly used Woodstock Fireview on Craigslist for $950 and spent $1800 on the Class A chimney pipe and install. I had a Stihl MS 250 already and bought a Farm Boss and a couple chains as well as an old diesel powered splitter. I sold an enclosed utility trailer to buy my 16'x6' dual axle trailer so nothing out of pocket there. Throw in chaps, a Stihl cant hook, and various odds and ends and I have approx. $4000 invested altogether. I'll have that much in savings within three years of burning.

    Plus I just really like everything about the wood heat. It's good exercise, good comfortable heat, I don't have to worry about power failures, and its something I'm enjoying toying with immensely. Plus the folks here are awesome!

    So yes it's about saving money. But so much more.
    Backwoods Savage likes this.
  8. Huntindog1

    Huntindog1 Minister of Fire

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    I save about 1500 a year. It will take a couple years to re-coup my investment in the stove and wood cutting equipment.

    My house has electric base board heat.
    Backwoods Savage likes this.
  9. Shadow&Flame

    Shadow&Flame Minister of Fire

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    Swedishchef,

    Just like you said before...its situational. Everyone has to figure out what it takes to live the way you wish to live. I would like to have more
    things in life, but I have to figure out if I can afford it first(Boy don’t you wish the gov thought like that...ha) Heating with wood isnt saving me any
    money right now...cost verses electricity is not even close in my warm climate. I was raised burning wood and will always burn wood, if I can
    afford the time and money to do so. It seems you are at a place where the time and money part are getting close...take a break and don’t worry
    about the small stuff...take care of you and your families needs. I have the equipment and the property to keep up anyway...if I didn’t burn the
    downed/dead/damaged wood in my house...I would have to burn it in the field or let it rot. I like not having to depend on something I have
    no control over to heat my house....power is out all the time. We all love burning wood...making it a case for saving money and time...Well, that is
    something you will have to answer for yourself.
  10. BrotherBart

    BrotherBart Hearth.com LLC Mid-Atlantic Division Staff Member

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    I heat this joint with wood now out of necessity, We didn't use the heat pump for so many years that it died of old age and neglect. Now i am stuck with heating with wood or freezing to death. Easy call.

    Savings ain't an issue. Heat is an issue.
  11. Huntindog1

    Huntindog1 Minister of Fire

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    Has anyone mentioned that cutting wood is a good past time that gets you outdoors and the end results is not only are you healthier but you save money on your heating bills.

    I guess I could go buy a membership to the local health club, oh I guess I am saving that money also along with a few doctors visit cost savings.
  12. jjs777_fzr

    jjs777_fzr Feeling the Heat

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    Since I did two class A chimneys - I'd really like to not think about how much money went into it.
    I spent $800 on a pellet stove, $500 on a wood stove (new), and probably another $1000 on nostalgic stoves because I wanted to try new things from 30 years ago). Luckily scrounging wood has worked out for me. It would be tough for me to spend $300 for a cord of wood. It's also why I have various stoves to play with - wood, coal and pellet. Whichever makes the most sense economically speaking - gets the nod.

    however Blacktail said it best "I JUST LIKE WOOD HEAT"

  13. blacktail

    blacktail Minister of Fire

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    After reading this thread again I realized that I can't put a price on the time spent with my dad cutting wood. I wish I had pictures from our wood cutting trips when I was a little kid. Now that I have my own house we still go out, except I have my own truck and chainsaw. As a kid, dad would run his saw and I'd mess around hitting logs with the hatchet my grandpa gave me. Plus, I remember shooting on firewood trips too. Dad would always bring a .22 and when the truck was full we'd pull the gun out and burn some ammo.
  14. TheGriz

    TheGriz Member

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    It pretty much comes down to if you pay for wood or do it yourself as far as cost savings go.
    I have a pretty good chainsaw habit, but those expenses can be written of as hobbies.
    The splitter is shared, so we all work towards the same end there.
    The wood is free, just depends on how much work you want to put in on it.
    The wife wants it 85 degrees all winter.

    That is why I burn wood.
  15. etiger2007

    etiger2007 Minister of Fire

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    The first winter we spent in our new house ( this will be our third winter there) the December bill was $326 for gas and electric and thats keeping the thermostat at 68 degrees, by mid January we were burning wood. I have not seen a winter bill over $220 ( thats gas and electric) since burning wood. ( Thats burning wood when I get home from work and on weekends). I bought a new stove this summer so I can burn while Im at work and the wife is home. I have alot of money tied up in wood burning and it will take some time to break even or get ahead but in the mean time im doing something I love to do and staying alot warmer as a result of it. I could do better on the electric bill if the kids would just turn off their Xboxes once in awhile.
    Backwoods Savage likes this.
  16. schlot

    schlot Minister of Fire

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    I think if we were to amortize all the essential "toys" we use for cutting wood and put value to our time that we use gathering, cutting, splitting and stacking wood, it would make any other heating method seem reasonable.....BUT there are so many great things about wood heating that you can't put in a spreadsheet.

    Being outdoors, sense of accomplishment, the smell of a fire, sight of the flames, gaining some independence from the utility companies, feeling good physically, are the bests things about what get from wood burning
  17. Swedishchef

    Swedishchef Minister of Fire

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    I am glad about one thing, it seems that everyone loves heating with wood. LOL. Or else nobody would be on this forum. Also, we all agree it is great exercise. That is something I love. I simply enjoy being outside on a fall day, burning the brush and stacking the wood.

    I don't have a woodlot so I have to buy my hardwood. I do have enough softwood in my land to cut some spruce/fir and get a cord or two a year out of it.The hardwood I currently have (dried) was purchased in 10 foot logs at $125 a cord. Great price for around here.

    Shadow&Flame: I would say I am tight for time..it's not the money issue. I certainly can't afford to go buy a tractor, trailer and woodsplitter right now. NOt all 3. So what I cut and split I do by hand! Considering I just built this house 3 years ago, just finished building a garage and finishing the basement and I another kid on the way, I would like to take a break. I only have 2 days off a week and have lots of things I want to do in that time: time with the wife, the kid, get the new baby room ready, etc. This year I just don't have time to go cut wood. BUUUUUT, I am going to be off for 4.5 months this winter on parental leave and come springtime plan on cutting/splittig wood and catching up.lol. I am 3 years ahead in my wood right now.

    Andrew
  18. Hanko

    Hanko Minister of Fire

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    eventually I think you end up saving. especially if your buying oil or propane
  19. maverick06

    maverick06 Minister of Fire

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    just make sure that you compare not just the generation charge (i think generation is about $0.09), but all the other aspects of the bill.....when you add in everything else by power is about $0.17.

    I buy my wood at $175/cord of non-oak hardwood. (I think oak is 225). cumulative heating is <$500.year... if i was heating with just oil, I would be $3500. buying wood... saving money...
  20. Jack Straw

    Jack Straw Minister of Fire

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    I burn wood just so I can be a member of this site!
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  21. jharkin

    jharkin Minister of Fire

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    Sweedish,

    Note the second paragraph in my post. The cost to install the stove was a factor before you installed it. It becomes sunk cost after you buy it. Now that its done, and I assume paid off cash, it doesn't effect whether it will be cheaper, in terms of cash flow, to heat with wood or electric this coming winter.

    Same with your house example - all the fees and closing costs to purchase are a factor in the buying decision, but once you close they are irrelevant to later decisions like refinancing or selling/moving. When you go to refinance the only thing relevant is the closing costs for the refinance loan, the closing costs on the original purchase loan xxx years ago mean nothing.[/quote]
  22. Hanko

    Hanko Minister of Fire

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    me too, so i can ask silly questions
  23. Jack Straw

    Jack Straw Minister of Fire

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    Oh there are no silly questions, but there are a lot of silly answers!
  24. Hanko

    Hanko Minister of Fire

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    true
  25. Woody Stover

    Woody Stover Minister of Fire

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    I think it would cost quite a bit to heat this drafty house, even though it's small. Especially to heat it to 70+ all Winter. Going back to regular heat would bite. Now, my relatives are saving a bundle riding the back of my saws, quad, chimney brush, labor, etc ;lol (except the splitter, which we chipped in on.) I enjoy the work though, so I'm good with it.
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