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Fuel cost calculator

Post in 'The Hearth Room - Wood Stoves and Fireplaces' started by michael, Nov 19, 2005.

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  1. michael

    michael New Member

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    Found this on Travis Industries site http://66.14.95.152/CostOfHeating_WkSht.asp?P=2

    Try punching in some numbers. It's just not realistic.

    I came up with $20 to heat my home with electricity per month. HA! That's a good one! It's off by about $300-400. If it only cost $20 a month to heat with electricity, I would've been hard pressed talking wifey into a new wood burner.

    Wood was a slightly different story. I put in $150 a cord (going rate around here) and came up with $10 a month. Who can honestly heat their home on $10 a month???

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  2. webbie

    webbie Seasoned Moderator Staff Member

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    They showed me that when I was visiting and I told them I thought it was off by a big factor.....let's take a house here in "moderate" mass....2500 square feet.

    I'll bet it uses at least 8 gallons of oil a day, or 250 a month. At 100,000 output, that means it needs more like 25,000,000 BTU a month as opposed to 5 as the chart says.

    Well, at least you can compare the cost per million BTUs. which should help (if accurate)
  3. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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  4. Eric Johnson

    Eric Johnson Mod Emeritus

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    I don't have much luck with those comparison tables, BUT:

    Digging through some recent utility bills, I noticed that while we paid $76 cents per therm for nat gas in August, the current bill checks in at a whopping $1.32 per therm. What's that, a 73 percent increase in 4 months? Happily, we only burned 16 therms for the Oct. 15-Nov. 15 period. Makes the $20 accumulated delivery charges look pretty steep, for a grand total of $43 for the month. That's probably outrageous considering that the only gas appliance we use is a clothes dryer, but I shutter to think what I'd do if we used the gas-fired boiler instead of the wood-burning one. Oh yeah, I do know what I'd be doing--out trying to find a second job instead of posting here on Hearthnet.

    Time to go throw some more wood into the boiler.
  5. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    What kind of boiler are you working with Eric?
  6. Eric Johnson

    Eric Johnson Mod Emeritus

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    I've got an old Royall 150,000 btu/hour unit that I picked up on Ebay a couple of years ago for about $250. It's installed in my barn and piped to a flat plate heat exchanger hooked up to a gas-fired boiler in the basement. Not very efficient (as you might guess from the photo of my wood pile), but it's central heat and gets the job done. I did the install myself, so I've only got about $4,000 invested, most of which I recovered last winter. There's probably a Tarm Solo 40 in my future, but I'd put it in the basement.
  7. seaken

    seaken Minister of Fire

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    Hi Michael,

    yes, I take issue with that particular chart as well. The overall approach is fine but they do not indicate how they arrive at their "multiplier" and I suspect it is skewed to better illustrate their point of view. To be fair, there is a great deal of grey in matters relating to efficiencies of appliances and BTU content in certain types of fuels. There are no black and white, definitive, answers to how efficient a pellet stove really is or how many BTU's are in a cord of wood. For that matter, the price of a cord is hard to pin down since many local sources obscure the price by supplying less than a cord or wood by the "truckload".

    I have done some spreadsheet calculations of my own and I have used some conservative efficiencies and thermal properties of fuels to come up with the following multipliers:

    Code:
    Fuel          Cost       Multiplier     $/MM Btu
    Electricity        0.15       x302.1        = $45.31 
    Propane (LP)      2.25       x14.0          = $31.46 
    Natural Gas        1.76       x12.8          = $22.56 
    Wood Pellets      200.00    x0.081        = $16.16 
    No. 2 Fuel Oil    2.72       x8.93         = $24.29 
    Cord Wood        150.00    x0.067        = $10.00 
    The method used for these multipliers is as follows. Not everyone agree with these efficiency or BTU numbers.

    Code:
    Fuel               Cost     Unit     BTU Input     Net Effiency     BTU output     units/MM BTU
    Electricity           $0.15      kWh     3413     97.0%     3310.61     302.059
    Propane (LP)           $2.25      gallon     91690     78.0%     71518.2     13.982
    Natural Gas           $1.76      therm     100000     78.0%     78000     12.821
    Wood Pellets           $200.00      ton     16500000     75.0%     12375000     0.081
    No. 2 Fuel Oil           $2.72      gallon     140000     80.0%     112000     8.929
    Cord Wood           $150.00      cord     20000000     75.0%     15000000     0.067
    

    You can take all these calculations with grain of salt. Adjust for your area and use common sense numbers to make reasonable comparisons.

    Sean

    I'm sorry for the poor formatting. I can't figure out how to manipulate the HTML to put everything in the proper columns. Is there a way to post in plain text? I'll try to attach the spreadsheet file.

    -----
    Michael said:

    Found this on Travis Industries site http://66.14.95.152/CostOfHeating_WkSht.asp?P=2

    Try punching in some numbers. It’s just not realistic.

    I came up with $20 to heat my home with electricity per month. HA! That’s a good one! It’s off by about $300-400. If it only cost $20 a month to heat with electricity, I would’ve been hard pressed talking wifey into a new wood burner.

    Wood was a slightly different story. I put in $150 a cord (going rate around here) and came up with $10 a month. Who can honestly heat their home on $10 a month???
    Code:
    
    
  8. seaken

    seaken Minister of Fire

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    Couldn't upload the excel file. Tried changing the name and file extension. Can't figure it out. Craig, can we upload files here?

    Sean
  9. webbie

    webbie Seasoned Moderator Staff Member

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    [quote author="seaken" date="1132624308"]Hi Michael,


    No. 2 Fuel Oil 2.72 x8.93 = $24.29
    Cord Wood 150.00 x0.067 = $10.00 [/code]


    Fuel oil is already below $2.00 a gallon around here and going down fast!

    Shows how hard it is to nail down all these things. I think the HearthNet fuel cost calculator is at least somewhat close, since you can change the prices, etc.

    Might take some reprogramming once Sean looks at it!

    Fuel Cost Calculator
  10. seaken

    seaken Minister of Fire

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    Craig,

    The numbers were current as of 10/12/05. I just checked the NYSERDA website and the latest is about $2.59 in NY State for No.2 Fuel Oil. I have also had reports of wood going for $150 per truckload, or over $300 per cord. So, yes, there is lots of variation. Depending on your lifestyle one may be better off paying for the fuel oil on a financial level. ut there is still no substitute for a warm fire in the place of dwelling. Many people are buying stoves and fireplaces not for financial gain (as compared to the fuel cost for their furnace) but for the security of an independant heat source and the charm and ambiance which ads to their lifestyle.

    I think your calculator is fine. I just object to listing any ventless gas burner as an alternative heater. While they may be granted higher efficiency numbers than vented products they are not intended to supplement or replace a furnace or any central heat. Thier efficiencies should not be considered when calculating the multiliplier for comparison charts for the cost of heating.

    Sean
  11. seaken

    seaken Minister of Fire

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    Craig,

    how do I attach an excel file? Are we only allowed to attach pictures?

    Sean
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