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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. Seasoned Oak

    Seasoned Oak Minister of Fire

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    Where i live you can just go the the local recycle center where they have a huge pile of rounds free for the takin. People drop them off after they cut down trees in their yard ect.
    Pile is so big they pushed them over the bank cuz not enough people were takin em. I also burn scrap wood from home restoration projects i do. Have too much of that as well.
    Cant beat free no matter what your electric ,gas.oil.ect rate is.

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  2. Joful

    Joful Minister of Fire

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    What is this "recycle center" of which you speak? I live near eastern central PA, and I wouldn't know where to find such a thing. We do have a local mulching facility, where the trash haulers dump leaves to be mulched, but it's fenced off from the public, and I've never seen a pile of tree rounds there.
  3. dafattkidd

    dafattkidd Minister of Fire

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    There is recycling center in my township as well. In fact the town I grew up in has recycling center where the workers pick out the reusable construction debris and display it for the public to take. My first season burning I used to go there twice a month season to get construction debris to mix in with my unseasoned cordwood.
  4. Swedishchef

    Swedishchef Minister of Fire

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    LOL. I don't think my wife would allow me to stack in the front. I do have some room in the back though. I normally have anywhere between 5-10 cords in the back yard.



    Yeah, those are old farm fence posts I have leftover to put in my yard as decorations. Damn camper...sometimes what my wife wants my wife gets.

    ANdrew
  5. Swedishchef

    Swedishchef Minister of Fire

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    Free rounds?! Holy crap, I would be all over that in a heartbeat....

    A
  6. Seasoned Oak

    Seasoned Oak Minister of Fire

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    Each township is different,we get free compost(i get a truckload at a time)free mulch and free wood.You have to reside in the township to use the facility and landscapers and such cant go there. last year they pushed a few semi,s worth of wood over the bank cuz nobody took em. My stock is getting low so ill get some soon.
  7. Jeanfirebug

    Jeanfirebug New Member

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    BogyDave and others have summed up pretty good. There's more to burning wood than just saving money. Certainly $$ is a factor, so if I had to buy wood, it may be in the same category as any other fuel (i.e. NG, Propane, electricity, pellets etc) when considering pros & cons. I don't think you can consider wood stove, chimney, or any other "equipment" costs, any more than you would consider house furnace, duct work, etc as part of fuel costs. Usually equipment has several purposes. Some things we do for satisfaction (reducing heating costs) and a meriod of other reason, not the least of which is kicking back and watching the fire burn.
  8. Jeanfirebug

    Jeanfirebug New Member

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    What kind of stove/fire units burns junk wood? Don't you have to be careful not to burn sappy pitch woods,as it gums up the unit and flue? Pine/spurce are especially bad in that area.
  9. WES999

    WES999 Minister of Fire

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    Yes!
    My stove and chimney cost a little over $1000 (got a great deal on a used stove on CL). My house probably costs around $1000 to heat (oil heat). Last winter I only used a few gallons of oil. It has been years since I had an oil delivery, and there is still about 100 gl. in the tank. I have been able to scrounge plenty of wood for free. Never bought a new chainsaw, all were used purchased for short money.

    I figure I was saving money after the first year:cool:
  10. clemsonfor

    clemsonfor Minister of Fire

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    I dont know man? I have a 3/4 acre lot and have a few cords stacked and i could easy stack another 10 around and not impede any real space. Heck i put it in the middle of my back drive, to be in sun and wind. Had i stacked alond the fence like im going now i would not even miss the 10' x 20' area that is solid wood now.
  11. dougstove

    dougstove Member

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    $USD and $CD are almost the same currently, within a cent or so either way.
  12. firefighterjake

    firefighterjake Minister of Fire

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    Nah . . . urban myth about the softwoods.

    As long as you season them properly you can pretty much burn any wood in your woodstove . . . well, maybe not petrified wood. The only real drawback to sappy wood like pine and spruce is that it makes a mess while processing as it is sappy . . . well that and you'll be filling up the firebox sooner rather than later . . . but no . . . providing the wood is seasoned it doesn't muck up the stove or chimney . . . heck I would wager if you took a cord of unseasoned hardwood and ran some through the stove it would mess things up much faster than an entire winter's worth of seasoned softwood.
  13. Sprinter

    Sprinter Minister of Fire

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    Oh, oh. I smell another "don't burn pine" thread coming.

    To keep on track, we knew going in that a wood stove was never going to save money. We're at about .052 for electric also, don't get free wood, paid retail for stove & installation, etc. It's for the aesthetics and comfort and mostly because she wanted one. Okay, I like it, too;).
  14. Seasoned Oak

    Seasoned Oak Minister of Fire

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    Wow thats a statement not heard often on this site""mostly because she wanted one"
  15. Wood Duck

    Wood Duck Minister of Fire

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    What kind? My stove does!
  16. Sprinter

    Sprinter Minister of Fire

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    :) Some of the most often seen advice I've seen on this forum is to get the model "she" likes. Pretty good advice at that. She was the driving force in this for the aesthetic, cozy-home-in-the-winter aspects. I was less keen on it because it wasn't economical, but it really is nice, so I'm fully on board.

    Oh, and I'm told we have frequent and sometimes persistent power outages here in harsh weather, so it's also valuable for that.
  17. Seasoned Oak

    Seasoned Oak Minister of Fire

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    I burn MOSTLY junk wood. I have a large supply of wood torn out of rehab jobs,some of it probably 100 years old. floor joists,wall studs,lathe boards .oak flooring ect.
    Im sure most of it is pine except the floor boards.Every stove i have burns it just fine especially the harman and the country hearth.
  18. jonwright

    jonwright Member

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    Some folks pay good money for reclaimed oak flooring. So I've read.....I didn't. :D
  19. jonwright

    jonwright Member

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    If I recall my term correctly:

    A sunk cost is any cost that you can't recoup. Flexible cost is a cost that changes with use - like if you purchase wood and the cost of gas and your time to collect wood. The more you use the more cost you have.

    You could consider the cost of the stove an opportunity cost - as you could have put it back on your mortgage instead of spending it somewhere else (i.e. your stove).

    While most folks may consider the cost of the stove in calculating the return on investment (and I think you should) it's unlikely that you'll rip it out and sell it out of your house. And if you take a hit on the value of the stove if you do - that is certainly a sunk cost.

    As for effort and the iwood or icut app: if folks get cold and have no alternative as they aren't employed they may find alternative sources of heat by necessity. But that's a whole other subject, isn't it?

    But I do see where there seem to be less people able and willing to do work themselves, be it work on the house, the car, or manual labor like collecting/splitting wood.
  20. Swedishchef

    Swedishchef Minister of Fire

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    I never thought you could heat much with scrap wood, I figured it would burn too quickly...guess I was wrong!

    jonwright: thanks for the precision on definitions. My initial question was simply about savings vs cost regarding wood heat compared to any other sources. I understand your "sunk cost" and "opportunity" cost definitions. It's the same as people who want to buy a hybrid to save gas money. Hogwash I say! Some hybrid models are $5000 more than the non-hybrid versions. $5000 is a LOT of gas, not to mention the cost of maintenance on the battery system.

    This was an interesting thread. Lots of great answers and lots of different opinions. I guess it comes down to one thing: everyone here enjoys having another heat source (if you have 2 sources) and that source is wood!

    Andrew
  21. Cluttermagnet

    Cluttermagnet Minister of Fire

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    The calculus was very simple for me- oil prices were going through the roof at the same time that my income was decreasing. Oil transitioned from ho hum to onerously expensive to flat out unaffordable. I cut off my oil supplier. Still get frequent "we miss you' postcards. There was one in today's mail.

    I was lucky- I was given an old stove. Researched all the safety issues using this forum and did my own install. I have continuing access to free wood, from multiple sources. Process it all myself. I like the exercise, the extra winter warmth, the entire way of life. It's been five years now.

    I spent a few bucks here and there- for a chainsaw, an X27 splitting axe, etc. but no major outlays. In my case, there is no doubt that my wood burning addiction transitioned into the black after the first year. (I had to pay to have a huge Red Oak taken down- that was some fairly expensive firewood) It was a fast payback for a small investment. It's true I'm discounting the value of my hours. There are considerable hours involved. But being semi-retired, I can focus on the great experience and think of it all as a free sports club membership.;)
    And ultimately, it is 'free' heat.

    I'd probably be spending $4-5K per year if I still heated with oil.
    pen likes this.
  22. Sprinter

    Sprinter Minister of Fire

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    Wow. I feel so fortunate that I've never had to heat with oil except for one year a long time ago.

    How much wood do you go through in a season?
  23. westkywood

    westkywood Feeling the Heat

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    I'm saving a but-load of money burning wood. I've got around $2300.00 invested in my stove and install. My central heat is propane. I've got a 500 gallon propane tank sitting out there that should last me 4-5 years. I filled the tank 2 winters ago and I've only used about 30% of it. I cut all my own wood, so I save a lot there. I figured at the rate of buying propane my stove will easily pay for itself in 3-4 years. Plus you have to think about the wear and tear you are not putting on your heating unit. If I had to buy the wood, I really don't know if I'd fool with it.
  24. Swedishchef

    Swedishchef Minister of Fire

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    Logical answer...every person's situation is different. But one thing is certain: we all love heating wood!
  25. tlc1976

    tlc1976 New Member

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    Heating with wood is the ONLY way I can afford to heat the house these days. If I still used propane I always went through 2 tanks a year so $2000 at today's prices, $2.50/gal for 800 gallons. But the furnace has a cracked heat exchanger which almost killed me when it cracked so it is shut down permanently. Has been shut down for almost 7 years and honestly I don't miss it.

    Closing off rooms, the house can be heated with 2 electric heaters, if running 24/7 is about $120/month each added to the bill. Which I still don't have. With all the fees, it is typically 11 cents per kwh.

    I usually average 6 cord a year. If I bought it, it would generally be $55-$70 a cord split and delivered. But I scrounge and cut from property of friends and family. We have the landscape drop off too with more rounds than they know what to do with. I was given a Craftsman 18" bar chainsaw which works great, but if it ever quit I have seen small Stihls in the local paper time and time again for $50-$100. I split it all by hand. I can haul about 1.5-1.75 cord with my 5x8 trailer and say I use 4 gallons of gas round trip each to get it, 4 trips to get my 6 cord, that's $64 in gas to haul the season's wood. Maybe a gas can worth of gas for the saw. I just use my old engine oil for the bar which some people swear against but it works for me and I'm still on the same chain after something like 5 years.

    The stove was here when I bought the house. But you want to figure stove purchase/installation, you would also have to figure furnace purchase/installation to be fair. That would be the one area where electric could win.

    I do like harvesting the wood, splitting it, sitting in front of the fire. I like the smell of the saw and the smell of the fire. I like the thought of being off the grid at least in that respect. Sometimes it is a pain since I am gone a lot and am the only one here, and when it is going to be really cold and I will be gone for more than a day I will leave a ceramic heater running on the kitchen stove so the pipes don't freeze (had that happen once before for that reason).
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