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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. wacnstac

    wacnstac Member

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    I have a surplus of oak and rarely have to cut trees down to supply my stash. I cull the ones that the storms take out. I bought my saw and splitter long ago. I can essentially keep my propane furnace off. So yeah, it really saves money.

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  2. Agent

    Agent Member

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    The beauty of wood heat is that you can vary how much it costs by varying how much work you put into it.

    My nearest wood source is a 150 mile round trip.
    I can either pay $150-200 a cord for pine, or:

    My cost is 10 gallons of diesel for the truck ~ $40
    Cutting permit $5/cord.
    Gallon of gas for saw ~$4
    By getting 1 cord at a time, my cost - even with two hours of driving - is about $50/cord.
    1 1/2 cords at a time drops it to about $30/cord.

    Burning 3-4 cords a year equates a yearly expense of about $200 for full house heating to a more than comfortable temperature.

    Utility records show that previous owners heated with 100% electric, and their utility bills were at a minimum $200 a month higher, generally paying about $1,000+ a year extra for heat. The first year alone paid for the upgrade from old smoke dragon to Englander 30NC. Every one past that, I get to decide to reinvest in my equipment, or bank the dough.
  3. SouthernBreeze

    SouthernBreeze New Member

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    I've ran all the calculations on this and the bottom line is, yes, it saves me money but the payback is so long that from a purely financial standpoint, it doesn't make financial since for my system. With that being said, I still chose to do the install and heat with wood for other reasons that have already been discussed in this thread.
  4. Joful

    Joful Minister of Fire

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    I don't bother heating my wood. It sits outdoors. :p

    Really?!? Around here, split and delivered is over $200 per cord. If I could buy it for under $70, it would be real hard to justify collecting and splitting it on my own. Don't forget a good saw is over $500 (most of us have several), a splitter is typically over $1000, and there's wear and tear on your body, truck, tractor, etc.

    However, even at $200 per cord, oil is still 2.5x to 3.5x more expensive, per delivered BTU. I scrounge and process all my wood for "free", minus equipment costs, but I hate to think of the work I put into saving $200 in wood. I prefer to think of the work I'm putting into saving $600 in oil.

    Ditto.
    rideau likes this.
  5. tlc1976

    tlc1976 New Member

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    Do you happen to mean full cord? Around here, cord always means face cord, always has, always will. So a full cord here would be $165-$210. Actually this year is the first year I've seen it in hit $70, but plenty still for $55.
  6. David Tackett

    David Tackett Member

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    Not only do I save money, but I have better heat. Wood heat superior to electric heat any day. A REAL cord of seasoned split oak here is 150 bucks delivered, but I try to obtain my own wood free.
  7. nate379

    nate379 Guest

    I'd venture to say that 99.99999% of the time when someone refers to a cord they mean 128 cu ft. Face cord isn't a measurement. You could end up with 1/4 of a cord or a full cord, all depending on the length!
  8. Waulie

    Waulie Minister of Fire

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    Not here, Nate. In Michigan, a "cord" of wood is a face cord. I'm not saying it's right or wrong, but that's just the way it is. If you say a "cord" of firewood, 99.99999% of people in Michigan will understand you to mean a "face cord". Also, I think it is the same way in other places.
  9. Swedishchef

    Swedishchef Minister of Fire

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    I have had discussions with people in various places about "cords". Some places refer to a cord as 1 row of 16 inch wood, 8 feet long and 16 inches wide. Others (like myself) consider a cord to be 128 cu feet. Depends on where you live I guess..
  10. bluedogz

    bluedogz Minister of Fire

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    I haven't done the math on this, but do know that our house had an antiquated (late '70's) heat pump- the kind that made the A/C tech say, "Boy, haven't seen one of THOSE in a while..." If we ran that for a 72 deg. house, our electric bill would push $800 US. I started using my old smoke dragon as much as I could, and we got that down to about $400.

    Enter a reline courtesy of Hogwildz and a new-to-me NC30 and some scrounged BL and hickory, and that bill is down to about $150.

    We also bought a modern 18-SEER heat pump too, which complicates the math.
  11. Swedishchef

    Swedishchef Minister of Fire

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    Sounds like you are saving a pile of money Bluedogz! Good for ya!

    How do you like the 30?

    Andrew
  12. Joful

    Joful Minister of Fire

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    Around here, a "cord" = a cord = 128 cu.ft., more or less. Trouble is, I measure it stacked, and some suppliers measure it piled haphazardly in a dump truck. Their cord still measures 128 cu.ft., as piled, but contains a lot more air than my cord.
  13. bluedogz

    bluedogz Minister of Fire

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    TBH, this site made me a wood heat convert. I was throwing wood into the dragon, thinking "It's just burning wood; how hard can that be?" A spell of unemployment made me even more frugal, then I stumbled across hearth.com and discovered what the whole problem was... &%#@y wood plus *%$y stove equals &*$#y heat!

    The 30 has even converted Mrs.Blue, to the point where she shoos me away from the thermostat when I check the house temp and she eyeballs potential scrounges on the way to work.
  14. John_M

    John_M Minister of Fire

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    Installed my PE Spectrum during 2009 and was then paying $2.89 per gallon for propane. An analysis during that time indicated it would take about ten years to make up the cost of the entire stove installation and wood processing supplies. I was doing my own firewood. The attractive home improvement afforded by the PE Spectrum was not part of the cost calculation.

    Since then, for health reasons, I have had to purchse my wood cut, split and delivered (I stack). Am paying $150.00 per 128 cu. ft. cord for mixed, unseasoned hardwood - mainly maple, ash and hickory. Burn about 3.5 cords per year. Propane has dropped to $2.10 per gallon. Use approx 500 gals per year. My average monthly electric bill is <$39.00.

    I have never again recalculated the cost/benefit analysis of burning wood. Wood heat and the physical effort needed to stack and haul splits is to me, one of life's great pleasures. I have little or no interest in whether using wood to heat my home costs or saves me a few dollars each year.

    Life is grand just as it is. No need to change.

    Best wishes and good luck. :)

    Edit: In reference to joful's comment about his splits being "properly stacked": This definition is usually part of the definition of a cord of split wood. Usually, the state agency definitions I have read indicate splits must be "tightly stacked" and not tossed into a pile. ;)
    ailanthus likes this.
  15. Sprinter

    Sprinter Minister of Fire

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    This problem will never go away.

    Probably the best way would be to agree up front with the supplier that they will only get paid when (1) Some random splits are measured for moisture content (if that's an issue), and (2) The wood is stacked straight and measured. Good luck finding somebody willing to comply with those terms. Although, if you pay a little extra for help stacking rather than just dumping a pile, it would make it a lot easier to measure while he's still there. That gives you something to negotiate with. I did that last spring and they were willing to negotiate down because their three cords were obviously short and they did advertise a "full cord". It might be worth finding a good, reliable, professional, provider that you can count on and probably pay a premium for the reputation, but there aren't any around here.

    Sorry, this may be getting afield of the OP, but it does factor into running costs.
  16. rideau

    rideau Minister of Fire

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    That's going to be confusing to people on this site -the overwhelming majority mean a full cord when mentioning cord...so it would help if you say face cord or convert face cord to full cord for your postings, in situations where understanding the quantity referred to matters. ;)
    In both the US and Canada there is a legal definition of cord and ir essentially is a stack of wood 8 feet by 4 feet by 4 feet, and it is legitimate for that stack to be 1/3 air. That leaves about 86 solid cubic feet of wood minimum in a cord.
  17. HDRock

    HDRock Minister of Fire

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    That's how it is here, if they don't say "a full cord" then they are talking about a face cord, 8 ft long,4 ft hi, 16 inches front to back
  18. Sprinter

    Sprinter Minister of Fire

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    I think I'd be really PO'd if they advertised a "cord" for $150 and delivered a face and the guy says "I never said a full cord"!

    Of course, if it's $50, then I guess that would be a dead giveaway.
    ColdNH likes this.
  19. bag of hammers

    bag of hammers Minister of Fire

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    Even the CHMC Guide to Residential Wood Heating talks about the confusion around measuring wood - "face cord, stove cord or furnace cord" all being used to describe "a stack of wood".

    In several years, I've only purchased a couple skids of milled hardwood ends (love these), and a couple of "face" cords as insurance one year (broken shoulder). The rest has all been from the property and surrounding area. So I had to bite the bullet a bit. But to be fair to the guys I bought from (they had a good reputation) they probably delivered 50% more than what I expected, at least after it was stacked and measured by me. So I didn't get too hung up on the semantics. As long as I knew what I was getting.

    From what I saw then, most of the cutters in my area (I'm in Northern Ontario) would deliver a single row 16" x 4' x 8' as a "cord" - for @ $65 - $70 typically.

    Agree with you John 100% - I know I'm saving $ but at the end of the day, it's the outside time and exercise, the joy on the dog's face, the warmth that hits me as soon as I step back inside - all that I can't express in terms of $ and cents.
  20. firecracker_77

    firecracker_77 Minister of Fire

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    I don't save money but I am alot warmer than the equivalent money in natural gas. That and I don't worry about it since I love building fires.
  21. rdust

    rdust Minister of Fire

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    Most talk around here is real 128 cu' cords. Face cords seems to be a regional thing, Michigan and New York seem to be two of the bigger offenders. I speak full cords here in Michigan and always say I have 20 cords or 60 face cords when talking to the locals. ;lol
  22. ailanthus

    ailanthus Feeling the Heat

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    ~3 year payoff for new stove & new chimney based on saving ~$2K/year vs. heating oil. Yes, it really does save me money. BTW I've invested in one chainsaw, one maul, zero hydraulics, zero woodsheds, zero trucks and zero trailers, or it would be much less so. Love the other benefits that others have mentioned as well.
    Joful likes this.
  23. eujamfh

    eujamfh Member

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    We definitely save compared to electric. Could we survive (temps around 68 degrees) on electric around the cost of what we put into the wood stoves and tools...yes. Could I keep the house in the mid-70s for the same cost as electric...no way.

    Wife, kids and dogs as they get older all like it warm. Me - I am in shorts year round in my house...but to do that with electric, it would cost a bunch even with pretty inexpensive electric.

    Also there is zero doubt wood heat feels better.
  24. Dunragit

    Dunragit Member

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    my electric is $.07 kWh and I have a NG forced air furnace but my stove gives me the heat in that area we wanted
    it wasn't about saving money but having comfort

    plus we are pyros
    firecracker_77 likes this.
  25. nate379

    nate379 Guest

    Had that happen to a customer I delivered wood to this summer. Another "supplier" sold him 2 cords and showed up with a pickup truck with wood tossed in to a bit over the bed rails. Supplier was not happy when the customer only paid for 1/2 a cord, which is what he had.

    I get the impression MANY "suppliers" short people. Just about everyone I delivered to this summer said " holy chit.... that's 2 cords?"

    Had one fellow that woul get "2 cords" every year and it would fill his woodshed. I helped him stack and I had easily 3/4 of a cord on my trailer after we had packed that shed to the gills.
    milleo likes this.
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