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Post in 'The Pellet Mill - Pellet and Multifuel Stoves' started by sydney1963, Nov 14, 2008.

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  1. trogers

    trogers New Member

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    Loc:
    Southern NH
    Geez, are you all saying that pellet stove are basically just space heaters? Kidding of course, but think that I have read that about 1000 times on the boards. I think that I'm in a different spot than most on this thread because I use LP forced hot air. I have one furnace in the basement that heats the first floor, which is about 1100 sq feet, and then another furnace in the attic that heats the second floor (and eventually the attic). We installed an insert on the first floor and have used it excusively for heat down there. I got a LP delivery on Tuesday and did the math of what I have saved over the same period last year and it equalled in 135 gallons less. At $2.96 per gallon this equals $399.60 saved in LP cost minus the cost of 25 bages of pellets at $5.58 per bag = $139.50 for a net savings of $210.60 from 9/1 through 11/18. I think that this is a significant savings over 2.5 months. And, the kicker is that my downstairs is now 71-74 degrees opposed to 67 degrees last year. My downstairs is about 3/4 open concept and the temp is very even except for the dining room which is sort of seperate and stays 2 degrees cooler...which is still higher than last year.

    I used a conservative straight line assumption and it looks like I'll save at least $1000 bucks this winter. For that type of savings, I'll lug the bags and clean the stove every couple of weeks. I'm almost glad I don't have the close cost diiference between oil and pellets to contend with because I like being this warm!

    By the way, is this approching the longest thread ever for these forums? It's a great thread.

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  2. ces001

    ces001 New Member

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    Rhode Island
    If you were using 700 gal. of oil, you're probably heating a minimum of 1500 sq ft. I think you'll find that as the temps drop, you'll be using a lot more pellets than you might have been using over the last couple of weeks. I also think you'll find that it is difficult to evenly spread the heat throughout the house (especially as temps drop) w/o turning your house into a wind tunnel. When you look at the low cost of oil today, and then factor in the cost of pellets and electricity to operate the stove and distribute the heat, I think you'll find there's little, if any, savings to be had based on today's prices. The only way you might actually save some money is if you don't heat the remote areas in the house as much and use the stove as the main source of heat in the main living area(s)... this way you are using less total energy to 'heat' the house.[/quote]


    I waited 24 hours to gather some more accurate data:
    - The living areas of my house total approx. 1300 s.f.
    - My average oil purchases over the last 2 years total 650 gals per year. I know I used 700 gals. in my previous post but that was a "guesstimate".
    - My pellet usage over the past 24 hours was one and a half bags with the stove set at medium setting on average (with one increase to max for an hour each morning to bring the temp at the thermostat in the far hallway from 65 degrees to about 70 degrees).
    - Yesterday's high temp was 39 degrees and last night the low was 20 degrees, so it was definitely an average winter temperature range for my area.
    - My calculations are based on 120 days of heating, from Nov. 15th to March 15th. I know some years will be mild and some severe so again this is an average.
    - The calculations show usage of 120 bags of pellets at 5.37/bag vs. 650 gals. of oil at 2.49/gal which equals a savings of $ 651.90.
    Now I'm sure that there will be winters when I use more than 120 bags, but there is plenty of leeway where one can safely say that it still costs me less to heat my house with pellets than it does with oil. But looking back to the first few posts that I made on this thread, my main reason for switching to pellets was to stop giving my money to the oil companies and to keep my dollars in the United States. Any savings as well as the warmth and enjoyment that I get from my fireplace insert are an added bonus. Also, I know that most of the posts here are coming from people with much more first hand experience with this subject than me so I welcome any suggestions.
  3. Wet1

    Wet1 Minister of Fire

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    Chuck I will agree there are differences in efficiencies comparing most central heating systems and space heaters (stoves). Although for rough calculations, the differences are mostly negligible for calculating approximately how many BTUs it will take to heat your house for the winter. Even so, the premise of your argument (efficiency) in post 112 is sound. But I think the key to your potential signifacant saves burning pellets is in the middle of your post 119...
    [Wet1=qoute]My guess is when using your stove, you’ll probably have warm and cold spots throughout the house that you wouldn’t otherwise have with your central heating system. [/quote]

    [cac4=quote]I don’t care; I’m not sitting in the cold spot. heating the area where I am NOT, is a waste of energy. [/quote]



    I hear many crazy claims in this forum about how people are saving so much money with pellets, some valid, some not so much. This can certainly be the case when you look at how much cheaper pellets are compared to something like propane. If fuel costs are near equal (such as is the situation with pellets and oil) and efficiencies are in the same ballpark (+/- a few %, and this is generally reasonable to assume), the only way many of these claims can be true is if people are not heating their house to the same overall average temp. Most of us know, stoves are space heaters and if someone only wants to heat one or two rooms of their home to comfortable levels (while letting the remainder of the home go colder than it would have with central heating), of course there will be substantial savings! Let's just be clear that this is where the significant portion of the savings resides. So yes, many of these people can save a lot of money burning pellets. BUT, they can do the same using other fuels as well! It doesn't matter if we are talking about central heating (by using zones/dampers) or space heaters, oil, NG, propane, pellets, or electric... the fact is it is far cheaper to heat only a portion of our home to "X" degrees than it is to heat your entire home to the same "X" degrees!!!

    It just drives me insane when I hear claims like the one on the previous page that state they are going to save $900 this year by burning pellets rather than oil. Possibly, but not because pellets are cheaper than oil. Maybe this person will save this much, but the average temp in their home certainly won't be anywhere nearly the same because there's is no way 3 tons of pellets will come close to producing the same amount of heat 700 gal. of oil will, regardless of efficiency! The guy could do the same exact thing by using an oil stove (which would likely be cheaper). It's not that the pellets are saving him this much money over oil, it's the fact that he's going to be heating a smaller portion of his home and letting the remainder stay at a cooler temp than it previously was.

    Okay, I'll get off my soapbox now...
  4. itworks

    itworks New Member

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    Loc:
    Southwestern CT
    I waited 24 hours to gather some more accurate data:
    - The living areas of my house total approx. 1300 s.f.
    - My average oil purchases over the last 2 years total 650 gals per year. I know I used 700 gals. in my previous post but that was a "guesstimate".
    - My pellet usage over the past 24 hours was one and a half bags with the stove set at medium setting on average (with one increase to max for an hour each morning to bring the temp at the thermostat in the far hallway from 65 degrees to about 70 degrees).
    - Yesterday's high temp was 39 degrees and last night the low was 20 degrees, so it was definitely an average winter temperature range for my area.
    - My calculations are based on 120 days of heating, from Nov. 15th to March 15th. I know some years will be mild and some severe so again this is an average.
    - The calculations show usage of 120 bags of pellets at 5.37/bag vs. 650 gals. of oil at 2.49/gal which equals a savings of $ 651.90.
    Now I'm sure that there will be winters when I use more than 120 bags, but there is plenty of leeway where one can safely say that it still costs me less to heat my house with pellets than it does with oil. But looking back to the first few posts that I made on this thread, my main reason for switching to pellets was to stop giving my money to the oil companies and to keep my dollars in the United States. Any savings as well as the warmth and enjoyment that I get from my fireplace insert are an added bonus. Also, I know that most of the posts here are coming from people with much more first hand experience with this subject than me so I welcome any suggestions.[/quote]

    You've defined your heating season from Nov 15 to Mar 15 (120 Days). I too live in New England, and at times we experience mild Falls, and early warmer Springs, but I can't remember not using my heating system (pellet or oil) in Oct at all, and being able to shut it down in mid March.

    In making your case that you're saving money heating with pellets in place of oil, I think you should be using current market prices.

    Oil is approximately $2.20 per gal and pellets are approximately $6.00 per bag.
  5. Wet1

    Wet1 Minister of Fire

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    ces001, are you using oil to heat your DHW? If so, this could explain some of the discrepancy...
  6. ces001

    ces001 New Member

    Joined:
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    Loc:
    Rhode Island
    You've defined your heating season from Nov 15 to Mar 15 (120 Days). I too live in New England, and at times we experience mild Falls, and early warmer Springs, but I can't remember not using my heating system (pellet or oil) in Oct at all, and being able to shut it down in mid March.

    In making your case that you're saving money heating with pellets in place of oil, I think you should be using current market prices.


    I don't know where you buy your pellets, but Lowes, Home Depot, and Wal Mart have pellets for about $ 5.80 a bag. Also, the dealer where I purchased my stove has pellets for about 5.80 per bag. Isn't it convenient to use the extremes when trying to prove your point. Also, the average temp. in my house (68 degrees) is equal to or warmer than it was when I heated with oil. There are cold spots at the far end where the bed rooms are, but those areas are cold spots when I heat with oil as well so there is no difference there. Didn't you read the section of my previous thread stating that my thermostat is located in the "far hallway" and that it starts at 65 degrees in the morning and rises to 70 degrees during the day. Regarding the heating season in the northeast, yes there are days in October when heat is needed, but there are also days in November when it is not needed. If you read my post, read the entire post, not just those sections that you choose to pick apart. My previous post listed FACTS not opinions. And finally, I WOULD RATHER NOT SPEND MY DOLLARS ON OIL! This has been my overall point all along, but the naysayers refuse to address it.

    Oil is approximately $2.20 per gal and pellets are approximately $6.00 per bag.[/quote]
  7. ces001

    ces001 New Member

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    [/quote]

    You should be thinking about the long term, not just about the here and now. Do you really think that oil will stay cheap forever. Look at history for your answer. Oil prices will rise again and we will all be hugging our pellet stoves. I choose to stop buying heating oil forever. If enough people do the same, it will be a good kick in the pants for the oil companies and the foreign countries that produce the oil. Regarding pellets, I buy mine in the spring or summer when they are cheaper. Anyone buying pellets today at $ 6.00 per bag didn't think ahead.
  8. cac4

    cac4 New Member

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    Loc:
    Essex County, MA
    Wet1: we're not disagreeing on much!

    I agree, an oil stove, if there was such a thing, would be cheaper. right now.

    but I still think that central heat is more lossy than you think.

    Imagine this: if I could take my oil furnace, and put it in the middle of my living room...or the center of my first floor area. (remember: open concept) just have it blow air right into the rooms....then put ducts to the second floor along the ceiling of the first floor...they'd go into the upstairs bedrooms along an inside wall, instead of an outside one....I bet I'd save a ton of oil.

    I heat about 1600sf with 600 gallons of oil...

    oil is 2.30, today, by the cheap-cheap guy that advertises in the local paper. how much do I save?

    well...I don't know. is that number even valid? I can't buy oil right now; my tank is still mostly full of the $5 oil that was stuffed into my tank in May. was that "last year's" heat? or this years? I'm burning it, now...I won't be able to fill it for a while, even if I don't get my stove hooked up. I can't buy my whole oil supply at once. Historically, I get 4 deliveries per year. What will it cost next month? and the month after that? etc? we won't know until we get there. But saying that I could heat my house w/ 600gallons of oil @2.30/gallon isn't a fair statement, at this point. You could say that I paid 900 bucks for pellets for this year...because I did. But if you're comparing the price I paid for the fuel on hand, then you have to also allow for the oil I have on hand, too, which cost 800 bucks, and is only about 25% of my typical requirement.
    So you could say, oil would cost me the following:
    first 150g: 750
    next 450g: @ 2.30 gallon=900
    for a total of $1650

    vs: 900 for pellets. I might need more pellets...but by the time I do, they'll almost certainly be way less $$.

    and does anyone really expect that oil will remain at an average price of $2.30 for the whole winter?
  9. ces001

    ces001 New Member

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    I AGREE! You can't just apply a BTU equation to every situation an call it gospel.
  10. ces001

    ces001 New Member

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    Our DHW is heated with propane.
  11. sydney1963

    sydney1963 New Member

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  12. barneshilary

    barneshilary New Member

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    lets keep burning wood and keep the money from thier GREEDY POCKETS
  13. rhag1128

    rhag1128 New Member

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    Southwest VT / NorthWest MA
    I don't usually chime in on threads with such a a difference in facts based upon home size , efficiency, heating types etc... There are 2 recurring themes here, 1. Cost savings/expense of heating with pellets vs oil. There are a couple factors to remember - let me give you my example: Center Hall colonial structure - 1802 construction with the original windows and no insulation in walls on half of the house ~1000sq ft. including second floor.- main living area is 1980s construction 1000sqft open floor plan. My main heat source was oil hot water baseboard heat. 250 gal/month to keep 3 PROGRAMMED zones at 65 degrees, turning 2 zone off durning the day and only on 4 hours /day. My current cost is 2.50/ gal last year it was $4/gal. I think my oil cost are elevated over most and for ME the math was very obvious. I have 2 Pellet stoves running on Low setting buninig ~50# per day to keep the entire house at 69-73F. So this is an increased comfort and cost savings for ME, which will not translate to your cost savings , or efficinecy or any other comparison you can make about your situation.

    Secondly and most importantly - we burn pellets on Principle - what ever that is, not to send money overseas, stiuckin it to the man ie exxon/mobil/shell etc. I will not go back to oil as main heat if it were $1/ gal because I got screwed the last 3 years and will stick to my principles. And Oil will go back up. Cuts in production / Somali Pirates / other factors will drive it up. Stick to your principles people we are all doing the right thing, even if burning pellets becomes slightly more expensive in the long run over Oil.

    Off my soap box now thanks
  14. ces001

    ces001 New Member

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    My thoughts exactly! I don't know about BTU calculations, but I do know that I am sticking it to the oil companies and if I can save a few dollars in the process that is just an added bonus.
  15. slls

    slls Minister of Fire

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    It's low enough now to start burning oil again, when it is gone, it is gone forever, tree's grow every day. I will help get rid of some at a low price.
  16. Jabberwocky

    Jabberwocky New Member

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    Funny, the natural gas company is charging the same exact price as last year, screw them.
  17. sydney1963

    sydney1963 New Member

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  18. trogers

    trogers New Member

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    I have propane at $2.97, so I am saving a lot by using pellets. But, I agree with you...it's about principle for me. It's funny how the threads have changed so drastically over the past few months as oil has gone down. Back in the summer when the price was sky high most of the people on the baords were talking about buying less oil out of principle, but this had changed now that oil is down in the low $2 range. I have found this phenomanon before with the "buy American" crowd that rails about my Honda while every stitch of clothing and every appliance they own is made oversees. I am beginning to realize that a very small portion of the population actually do something about a situation that upsets them. When oil goes back up...and it will...these same people who are going back to oil after buying a pellet stove to get out of the endless cycle will be telling their friends and co-workers how "they switched to pellets a long time ago to screw the oil companies". Only, they will still know that they allowed themselves to be manipulated over and over again.

    End the cyle...Burn renewable North American fuels! Oh yeah, and actually be warm (for once)!
  19. camdids

    camdids Member

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    Yep.Start filling up the SUV's again. Oil cheaper.Lets wait for the next panic. I expect you more matured Hearth guys have seen it all before.
    My stove is down at the moment as I'm waiting for a Chimney liner to be installed. yes I'm not as worried about using the Oil for a couple of weeks. But I do know that my stove keeping me warm at 70 is still better than the Oil furnace cranking away.I would much rather be sat here with the Stove burning away than hearing the Furnace firing up> It really just doesnt seem as warm.
  20. camdids

    camdids Member

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    Yep.Start filling up the SUV's again. Oil cheaper.Lets wait for the next panic. I expect you more matured Hearth guys have seen it all before.
    My stove is down at the moment as I'm waiting for a Chimney liner to be installed. yes I'm not as worried about using the Oil for a couple of weeks. But I do know that my stove keeping me warm at 70 is still better than the Oil furnace cranking away.I would much rather be sat here with the Stove burning away than hearing the Furnace firing up> It really just doesnt seem as warm.
  21. iceman

    iceman Minister of Fire

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    honestly i burn pellets, wood, nat gas , and now oil and also have some electric heat
    i did burn 100 gallons last year (then i got the wood stove)... 2 tons of pellets last (to replace where electric heat is)
    nat gas fireplace insert. used ng in 1 room and wood stove to heat my house... i did save a lot of cash vs what i woulda paid to the oil last year.... now that oil is about 2bucks my furnance will run more...because last year i turned it 2 zones off kept the basement around 55.... this year i will keep 3 zones on but at say 68 in case the stove goes out or anything else... it is a pain to bring the house up temp.. so now the tank is full it won't hurt to use it if i have to.. i gotta teach the wife how to use the wood stove but she is afraid of it....
  22. rowerwet

    rowerwet Minister of Fire

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    My neighbor paid 2.50/gal last week for oil, the lowest price I have seen in seacoast NH area is 2.39 cash only 100 gal min. I will stick to my pellets!
  23. pinewoodburner

    pinewoodburner Feeling the Heat

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    Down here in Virginia where not may burn oil anymore, oil cash price on Friday min 100 gallons was $2.59. I will top off my tank when it is near the low, but the woodstove will be going as much as possible.
  24. wilbilt

    wilbilt New Member

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    As others have noted, it is about having choices and options.

    There are no oil burners here. The options are NG (if available), LPG, electricity, wood, or pellets.
    In my area, there is no NG. I have an LPG forced-air furnace as well as the pellet stove.

    I filled the LPG tank a few months ago for about $2.55/gal (250 gallons). Most of that is still in the tank as backup. LPG is used for DHW and the cooktop/oven.

    Using the furnace to heat the home uses 150gal/month easily. A half ton of pellets at $250/ton does the same job with greater comfort. That's $380 vs. $125 for a month of heat.

    The choice seems clear to me, although I will light the furnace if necessary. Another thing to consider is that the propane company will not roll a truck to deliver less than 150 gallons; but I can always buy a few bags of pellets anywhere to tide me over until payday.

    I had my furnace lit for about two weeks last year. My goal for this year is to not have to light it at all.
  25. deadeye316

    deadeye316 New Member

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    Up in Amsterdam NY the company I go with oil is $2.99 this other place is $2.55. No clue why.
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