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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. JBinKC

    JBinKC Feeling the Heat

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    In my case my system with saws and ancillary equipment paid for itself in about 2 years. Where can you get a risk free 50% return on an investment.

    I chose wood mainly because you are in control of much more than just money. It also serves as a hedge against adverse events like power outages, hyperinflation etc. I am performing productive exercise in scrounging. Any stress can be channelled into splitting wood. I can set the temperature to what is comfortable and not fret about it and have the entertainment value of viewing the fire (OK I am a pyro).
    It also can serve as a teaching tool to establish a work ethic.

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  2. Wood Duck

    Wood Duck Minister of Fire

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    I think we are arguing about two different types of calculations. it is one thing to calculate how much money one saves by using a wood stove once it is installed, and another thing to calculate how much one will save if he installs a wood stove. If you have a house and pay heating bills, then if you install a wood stove and still pay heating bills, all you have to do is compare the two bills to know how much money you are saving. If you want to include the full cost of heating with wood you can add up the cost of the stove, wood, chainsaws, etc. and compare that cost to the monthly savings. This is fairly easy, and my calculation tells me I am saving money. I have reduced by electric bills about $200 per month year round (bills are averaged to smooth out the high and low electric use months, or maybe just to make it hard to figure out how my bill is calculated). I know what the stove cost, wood is free, and most of other things I need I already had, so I could figure out how long the payback on the stove will take. I recall my calculations indicate about two or three years to payback.

    On the other hand to figure out how much you might save in the future you have to know all about the electric rates including peak rates, variable rates that change due to weather or daily usage, etc. This is harder and leads you into a bunch of hypothetical questions regarding when you will use the stove, how much the backup heat will have to run during the coldest weather, etc.

    For me saving money is financially good, of course, but the savings are much more important as part of the overall enjoyment of wood heat than as a financial benefit. I could earn a lot more money by working an extra hour than I can save by collecting wood for an hour, so in that sense scrounging firewood doesn't make sense financially, but nevertheless I enjoy scrounging firewood in part because I know it will save me money, and I like the self-sufficiency aspect of wood heat. In this case the financial benefits of wodd heat are worth more than the actual dollars I save.
    Huntindog1 and Shadow&Flame like this.
  3. Jack Straw

    Jack Straw Minister of Fire

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    Silent heat with the beautiful flames.......
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  4. burnt03

    burnt03 Burning Hunk

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    We're having "smart" meters installed in our town so time-of-day billing is probably only 2 years down the road. With electric forced air heating (80A x 240V = 19,000W), I can't choose not to heat during high times so I'd get screwed even more than I am now (first winter bill when we moved in = $560!)

    I'm hoping I'll save on the electric bill, even if the furnace only runs 2/3 of the time it'll be worth it to me not to have to pay as much hydro. Plus, all the firewood is free, mostly within 5min drive. Also get to be out getting exercise and hopefully teach my two boys (3 and 5) that it's ok to be out working.

    Should have a good idea after this winter :)
  5. woodchip

    woodchip Minister of Fire

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    Purely on cash terms, we broke even within a year.

    3 years ago our utility bills were over £1000, and we could not afford to heat the house properly.

    Instalation cost £600, and within a year our utility bills were down to under £400.

    Today, our annual utility bills are still under £500, and electricity look like it will rise again in January.

    We already had the saws, axes, maul, a wedge, and a sledgehammer, our only new investment being a wood grenade.

    The house is now as cosy as we want it, our wood is basically free, and we are independant of the system.

    Independance is priceless............ ;)
  6. jonwright

    jonwright Member

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    Meh. I save a little each year. I have three kids, all under 5. I don't have time to scrounge wood every weekend, so I buy some (at about $50-$80 a truckload) and also have some wood I cut and split from clearing my lot.

    From a monthly bill standpoint I do save some money. Considering that I'm all electric (at + $.10/kw) with only propane for alternative heating, I save a reasonable amount of money - but what I save on my 3 months where wood heat REALLY comes in handy I've *almost* spent in wood.

    Winters are mild here in Arkansas, especially lately, so it isn't really a $$ equation for me. I just about break even with monthly cash flow - with the mild winters since I've completed our addition and the cost of the fireplace my timeline for payback on investment is stretching out. Not really a problem as I hope to be in this house for a long time.

    BUT.

    You just can't back up to a heat pump. When your clothes are wet you can't put them by the exit vent to dry. You can't warm your hands after being outside all day. Christmas time with stockings over your kitchen counters isn't the same. Watching a movie during the winter time at night with the fam, cup of hot tea, and a fire in the fire place = HOME. Getting the kids ready by the fire in the morning and snuggling with a little one by the fire = HOME. Being a white collar worker and having something totally tangible that is a direct result of your efforts = rewarding.

    And sitting around in your shorts when it's 35 degrees outside when you are paying for electricity - not gonna happen. And let's not forget that in the country we do have electricity outages when you need it most (ice storms etc.).

    Wood heat just FEELS WARMER than the same temperature with a heat pump. Just does.

    I have a well insulated house, but when I put in our wood stove I put in an FPX, the big one (44?). That sucker will flat out roast us in our 3,000 feet of house, keep the upstairs rooms reasonably warm, and has no issues keeping heat in our living room with 30' vaulted ceiling.

    I shudder at the thought of keeping the house warm on just the heat pumps - but I could. And on principle I'm not going to have the thermostat set at 75 with the heat pump (we'd be lucky if I have them set at 70), but I can get my entire house warmer in the dead of winter by cranking my stoves.
    TheGriz and Shadow&Flame like this.
  7. Joful

    Joful Minister of Fire

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    Perfectly stated. Without wood, I'd be using roughly $6500 in oil per year, so I'm sure I'm still saving some money after buying and feeding all of the wood processing "toys". That said, I'd be doing this even if it cost me money. What other excuse do you have to go play in the woods every Saturday, while simultaneously working out your frustrations and getting cred from the wife for doing work? Yep... I still have her fooled.
    osagebow likes this.
  8. firefighterjake

    firefighterjake Minister of Fire

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    Yes
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  9. onion

    onion Burning Hunk

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    I know I am saving money over using the old beat up propane furnace the house came with. More importantly though is the fact that if I didn't burn wood I could never justify owning 3 chainsaws.
    TheGriz and etiger2007 like this.
  10. Backwoods Savage

    Backwoods Savage Minister of Fire

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    True Chef, that I am retired. Sometimes just plain tired. However, you must also know that I have not always been retired and no doubt went through many of the same trials as you. Stick with it good fellow and it will do you well.
    PapaDave likes this.
  11. Backwoods Savage

    Backwoods Savage Minister of Fire

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    I don't think you hit Bold but just changed the size of the font. That will cause the bold.
  12. Backwoods Savage

    Backwoods Savage Minister of Fire

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    Had you read the other posts you would find that many have mentioned it.
  13. clemsonfor

    clemsonfor Minister of Fire

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    Your point about other electric charges is why people me included said my bills with electric heat were X and now there Y.

    In my case without the stove my peak charges were $250/month. That was with all the same electric devices i have with the stove. And that was keeping the tstat between 60-67F. With the stove i can keep it between 65-85 in the whole house. The bedrooms being the colder, how i like it, and thats in the mournings, evenins are lows 70s. So my electric bills with the stove id say averaged $105. They would fluctuate from high 90s to 110ish. probly the difference was the water heater when cold and maybe more fans running to circulate air??
  14. Swedishchef

    Swedishchef Minister of Fire

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    Wow. This thread generated more chatter than I ever imagined!

    Jharkin: Nope, the stove and chimney install was part of the construction of the house. I received a construction mortgage of X dollars and did some of the labour myself. With my leftover $ in the mortgage I decided to install a stove and chimney. So is the stove really a sunken cost?? According to the $3500 it added to my mortgage, nopers. LOL.

    As a first generation burner, this is new to me. I would say that for every 1 person I was friends with in University or High school that heat with wood, I have 50 that don't. New generations simply are not as much interested in the workload required to heat with wood. I am certainly stereotyping but it's true. There's no iwood app or icut app. Some people would rather say "I will get a job that pays enough to turn on the heat with the click of a button". I say" you're nuts". :)

    My problem is that, not knowing at the time, I installed my stove in my basement. So I still heat upstairs with electricity and downstairs with wood. eventually heat will get upstairs but not efficiently and it takes 3-5 hours for the heat to do so (and I cook myself out of the basement). My house is a 1300 sqft bungalow.

    My father was a white collar employee who is useless with his hands. His idea of cutting wood is trimming a hedge. Long story short is that I wanted some wood heat to see what it would be like a fell in love with it. During my searches for a stove I found this site and met Dennis and have been hooked since.

    I noticed that lots of people agree that cutting wood is great exercise. And to that I agree: I split all my wood by hand. But I get 3-4 cords of wood cut and split in a week and then it's over...too bad I didn't do it year round!! I don't have that much room on my lot for stacking wood...see pic.

    A

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  15. simple.serf

    simple.serf Feeling the Heat

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    When we bought our house, the gas lease was terminated, the oil burner needed to be rebuilt and the electric heaters, well, they were electrical fire #2. My plan was as follows: 1. Rebuild the oil burner. It provides the domestic HW. 2. Replace the plastic water tank with a good used oil tank. 3. Install wood stove. 4. install wood boiler to only use oil when absolutely needed.

    We are still in the planning stages for #4.

    Regardless, my house is poorly insulated. The downstairs is concrete block insulated with Vermiculite, and the upstairs is standard stick construction, insulated with fiberglass. Given that all of the windows are original 1972, the estimated cost to heat our house with oil was over $6500. That's almost 1/4 of my yearly "real job" salary. In the winters, i work for a friend that runs a maple syrup business. We tapped 1500 trees then (upping it to 3k this year). I can get all the wood I want free (hence the amount of wood in my yard).

    Does heating with wood save me money?

    Without a doubt, yes.
  16. sebring

    sebring Member

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    Wood burning is a second job for most people, where they are the boss.
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  17. HatCityIAFF

    HatCityIAFF Burning Hunk

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    I'm going to say yes. Installed insert last winter for roughly $2200. Didn't turn the furnace on all year, didn't spend $2500 on oil.
    Wood is at the parents house and a buddys, about 15 miles away. Stop on the way home from work, use the old man's saw, buck up a pickup truck load of ash,split it, and bring it home. Have about 4-5 cords. So far the only expenses have been a set of fireplace tools, fuel/oil/chains for the saw, supercedars, and a chimney cleaning brush.
  18. dorlow

    dorlow New Member

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    It was the pellet stove guy that talked me out of pellets and talked me into cord wood. He pulled up the calculator. I gave him how much I pay for propane per gallon, how much I pay for electric per killowatt, how much pellets were per pallet, how much the average cord wood cost, and how much natural gas was. Natural gas isnt available at my house. But natural gas and cord wood was by far the cheapest. Double per unit of heat was pellets. Then double that was propane and double that was electric.

    What I know from what I've spent so far. During the coldest months, I spend about $300-$400 a month for propane to heat my house at 70 degrees and we have a 1500 sq feet house (newer house that is very well insulated.) I spent $500 a year ago on the wood. It lasted last year and I'm expecting for that same $500 wood to last this winter too.

    It's a huge savings for me. Granted I just put a new wood stove in for $400. I had to buy a log splitter for $1800. Also there's a lot of small nickle and dime costs to burining wood. But I'm sure I'm way ahead to the $200-$400 a month I was spending with propane. I don't think it will be much more than a year to recoup my money invested in the log splitter.


  19. Corey

    Corey Minister of Fire

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    Buying a retail stove / liner + 'professional' install + the going market rate on cordwood = probably not much money to be saved, especially compared to natural gas - as the bottom is falling out of NG prices due to all the fracking in the oil shale regions.

    Craigslist stove + DIY install + scrounge/'free' wood cutting I think there is a modest amount of money to be saved.
  20. charly

    charly Guest

    At 4 dollars a gallon for oil , I'm looking at 1000 dollars for one fill, I'll bet I would use at least two tanks over a winter, keeping the farm house as warm as we do with wood. Burning wood I only used a half tank of oil, 125 gallons over a years time. My wood comes right from my property, free except for labor and equipment to harvest it. My stihl is 10 years old, my tractor 12, so a lot of my stuff has already paid for itself. My wood is never going to cost more as oil will just keep going up. Cooking with my wood cook stove saves me from running an electric oven as well, plus heats the house too. Last year I burned about 6 cords. In my soul I'm saving money, a peace of mind, having the ability to be independent and take care of ourselves. Plus I figure harvesting wood gives me good exercise , keeping my health, so it's a win-win situation. Saves me any doctor bills. I think anyone on here who loves to burn wood doesn't really fret over it being cheaper, it's just in ones blood so to speak that it makes you feel good looking at your work, sitting down by the fire and warming your soul, especially if the power just went out:)!
  21. Joful

    Joful Minister of Fire

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    I dunno... looks to me like that front yard almost an acre itself, although I understand why you don't want to stack wood right out front. How big is the back yard? I have 7 cords stacked with room to spare in an area only 35' x 35', in 4' wide rows about 6' apart, each 24' to 32' long.
  22. Seasoned Oak

    Seasoned Oak Minister of Fire

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    Looks like some already stacked to the left of that camper. perfect place for one.
  23. steeltowninwv

    steeltowninwv Minister of Fire

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    u gotta take the dive and buy the equipment to cut wood...nothing fancy..beater truck chainsaw and splitting maul...cut it urself and u will save thousands a year....but truly if cost is all u worried about maybe wood heat is not for u.....i started burning wood to save money..no if i had to buy every drop of my wood i still would heat with wood...different kind of heat and stay as warm as u want..but im with bogydave...no gym membership..no doctor bills...never bored...and it keeps me occupied so im not out spending money on something else. It also is teaching my 11 year old son a real good life lesson and responsibility.
    zzr7ky likes this.
  24. RORY12553

    RORY12553 Minister of Fire

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    I could not agree with the above statements more! Do I save $$ yes I do. At $3.70 a gallon for oil right now I believe that burning wood will make the oil last longer. I fortunately was able to buy oil over the summer for $3.19 a gallon so I am ahead of the game in two respects now. Good luck to everyone this winter!!
  25. Huntindog1

    Huntindog1 Minister of Fire

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    Amen brother!!
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