Post in 'DIY and General non-hearth advice' started by joecool85, Mar 16, 2011.
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If you are short on space, put protection on the walls.
I thought he was summoned, not prayed to. Trivial I suppose
Been following this thread, and have a similar setup as you with a boiler for both heat and hot water. (We dont have a separate hot water tank that is oil fired, just the boiler)
We have a little larger home (1800 ft, built in 1999 with very good insulation), and I burn from about 6am to 10:00pm just about every day, and with the insert it heats the home nicely. However, due to having domestic hot water supplied via the boiler, we didn't really see a big savings in oil usage, as I underestimated hot much oil was being used for hot water in the non heating months...some data is below:
Oil Use Days Gallons Ave/Day Price
12/1/2006 2/6/2007 67.00 230.4 3.439 $2.30
2/6/2007 4/17/2007 70.00 222.5 3.179 $2.40
4/17/2007 11/8/2007 205.00 190.2 0.928 $2.90
342.00 643.1 1.880
11/8/2007 1/5/2008 58.00 195.8 3.376 $3.35
1/5/2008 3/4/2008 59.00 204.2 3.461 $3.45
3/4/2008 5/30/2008 87.00 164.3 1.889 $4.35
5/30/2008 12/3/2008 187.00 189.7 1.014 $2.14
391.00 754 1.928
12/3/2008 2/27/2009 86.00 186.5 2.169 $1.97
2/27/2009 8/12/2009 166.00 217.5 1.310 $2.25
8/12/2009 1/4/2010 145.00 208 1.434 $2.70
397.00 612 1.542
1/4/2010 4/28/2010 114.00 196 1.719 $2.79
4/28/2010 11/9/2010 195.00 198 1.015 $2.85
11/9/2010 1/31/2011 83.00 194.2 2.340 $3.30
392.00 588.2 1.501 $2.98
Overall, since getting the insert, we have dropped our oil use from about 1.9 gallons/day to 1.5...for a savings of appx .4 gallons/day or 150 gallons/year. We do keep our home much warmer.....usually 68-70 downstairs vs 64-65 prior to the stove, but due to our inefficent hot water heating, the savings on oil really weren't as much as I had planned. Your situation may be different, but just wanted to give you some info in case you could use it.
I guess what I am trying to say is that as other folks have mentioned you probably should look at your entire heating system as a whole, and decide where you could get the most bang for your buck. I am a pyro at heart, and love splitting/stacking and burning wood...but based on true economics in my situation, I would have been better off installing an electric hot water heater first to prevent using 30-40 gallons of oil/month during the summer for just hot water.
Good luck, and keep us posted
I've thought about that with the dhw usage. If the wood stove doesn't help us much we may consider going to an electric hot water heater, but for now I'm not comfortable doing that. I don't like electric water heaters - not sure why, just don't care for them.
Me neither, probably why I haven't gotten one yet either
We are on well water, and I have heard some rough stories on the electric units with well water.
Also, with a larger wood unit capable of overnight burns, you would much more of an oil savings. Good luck on the hunt.
Either way, the Elder Sign should protect the thread!
I don't think anyone has mentioned this here, but another good place to look for a bargain on stoves is the stuff-for-sale forum on hearth.com. Someone had a Fireview Classic there a few months ago for $900, out in your general neck of the woods.
I didn't get through every post here, but most I read said the same thing, "don't go in debt," which is fairly ridiculous to tell college students who've had to make it (seemingly) on their own. My wife and I are teachers, and we'll be paying school loans probably forever. But there was no way I was staying in an apartment throwing money out the window or driving older cars that could leave my wife and child stranded. So, as Brian Blush once sung:
"I owe, I owe, I know, I know: Rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic.
It doesn't matter what I do
She's gonna keep on sinking
Rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic
I realize now, my time was better spent drinking."
Being a fairly recent grad and homeowner you might be getting taxes back. If you both have college loans then all that interest it deductible and along with your mortgage interest and property tax it should amount to a fairly sizable refund, assuming you haven't adjusted your take-home pay to lower you refund each year (I never did this). This is how I helped to pay for my PB150 pellet boiler a few years ago. I never planned tax refunds into my yearly budget so it is always money that can be spent on something other than bills for that year, usually some type of home renovation/upgrade. Last year it was an above ground pool, the year before that a new deck, and the year before that to help pay for my boiler. I usually try to do a lot of the labor involved in these things myself to lower the overall cost, of course for the boiler I hired someone to do the install since the safety of my family was worth the extra cost. After the fact though I realized I probably could have saved a bit by doing the chimney pipe myself as there is really not much to it, in fact I have pretty much redone my entire chimney myself since the original install.
To go used its still going to run you $1500 or so with a used stove, venting and protection/pimpin' you ride. $3000 for new, but that's really a rough estimate. At $4/gallon your fuel bill is going to be about $2000/year (if you're still using oil for HW, I figure 200 gall/yr for oil. I like the 12 months no interest/no payments options in your situation. You could pay into what you would have to buy in oil anyway, and with any luck by the end of next Winter you would have saved enough to pay for the stove, interest free. Keep in mind, however, that is 24/7 burning with no oil for heat. You'd be trying to replace 500 gallons of oil with 4 cords of wood-that's tight, and serious work for a new wood burner with a new-to-me stove. Most people here who burn 24/7 with no backup have monster fireboxes and often multiple stoves.
Not sure if I'd like top loading as I always have a full porcelain cast iron bowl on the stove but the thermostatic air control sounds pretty good to me.. I wish there was a way to retrofit a stove with a thermostatic air damper as that could save the stove from overfiring.. BTW my stove was made in Taiwan and it's still going strong.. It wasn't my intention to buy a Taiwan stove but it's too much to explain by typing.. I think if you see this stove in person you'd think it was pretty well made.. FYI I find your posts interesting as well Chris!
I took a 401K loan, paid off a couple of credit cards and had the stove installed. Plus bought wood. Now I get to pay myself back with interest and not the bank.
When I upgraded my stove, I was trying to sell the old one which luckily I did. However I would have sold it on a payment plan if I really had to. So my idea to you, if you can get a used stove is to offer to pay for it in installments with the money you save by not buying expensive fossil fuel heat! Also you can advertise on craigslist you can pay for it that way so if someone wanted to upgrade then you could help!
I sold my FA288CCL Extra Large Cat Consolidated Dutch West Federal Design Wood/Coal stove for $400.
So for $40 dollars per month for 10 months and it is all yours!
Just an idea.
Here's another consideration to put on the table:
I put in my stove with the thought in mind that I would make the house warmer, add ambiance and have it available as a just-in-case--in case fuel oil went through the roof (again), or I had an extended power failure. It just seemed prudent. Four months later, in January, my high-efficiency 12-year-old my boiler failed (with fireworks). If I'd waited until my finances and wood supply were perfect before I bought that stove, I wouldn't have bought it. That pretty little parlor stove went from a nice luxury to a central facet of life here, without missing a beat. I can't tell you how many times I"ve been glad I listened to that quiet little inner prompting that urged me to get this done.
If you decide not to go with a wood stove, it would be prudent to have enough money on hand at all times to replace your existing heat source, as well as a generator with fuel to keep that heat source running. And enough money to buy a winter's supply of heating fuel in case one or both of you lose your job(s).
Or, you could just get a wood stove.
We both paid our own way through college. Neither of our families had/have the money to help us.
We have the Irving protection plan that covers us if our boiler goes kaput. It's been a great investment. Our boiler is 24 years old now and we pay $250/yr for the protection plan. Irving has already put in over $2,000 in parts and labor keeping it running (mostly the first year after we bought the house, since then it's been good).
That said, I don't really trust the beast and would love to have a stove. Looks like one way or another we're gonna make it happen this year. We're working on selling off our two guitars and my Vox amp. That should net us a bit over $1,000. It'll be sad to see them go, but I'm not a gigging musician and it's more important to keep my family warm than entertained. I will still have a Toyota acoustic that I can bang around on though (not worth selling, couldn't get more than $40 for it).
Not a big fan of electric hot water heaters or running the oil boiler in the summer to heat my water . . . for some reason it just seems wrong . . . replaced with a propane hot water heater and I've been quite happy . . . for some reason it just doesn't seem so bad to me. Eventually I may replace the "free" propane heater that was provided with a more efficient on demand heater.
Where in Central Maine are you Joe . . . "Central Maine" in my experience means anywhere from LA to Brunswick to Waterville to Bangor and all points in between.
My wife and I live in Norridgewock. Between the two of us we've been all over though. She grew up in Rumford, I grew up in New Sharon and then we both went to UMO. She lived in Orono and I had an apartment in Old Town, then we were both in Old Town and stayed there for 5 years total before we came down to Norridgewock.
Norridgewock . . . yup . . . that's pretty much my definition of central Maine -- in the Waterville/Augusta area . . . but as I said . . . folks all have different ideas of what is central Maine . . . of course some purists might even argue that central Maine would be far, far away from the coast . . . somewhere in Orono or Old Town.
Norridgewock is within throwing distance of Unity . . . well maybe if it was Superman throwing the ball . . . close enough I suppose.
My own thoughts . . .
You have two different options.
Option 1: Save and scrimp and put every penny away that you can to buy the exact stove you want. You already mentioned not eating out a lot (that definitely helps) . . . cutting back on other things can also help you save and pay off debt fast. I ended up putting several thousands back into my savings account by going on a 9-12 month economic diet where I cut out eating out as much as I did, ate cheap meals at work, cut back on buying sodas/coffees (well I don't drink coffee -- but you get the idea), didn't go on a vacation and even cut out some extras in life such as the internet. In addition I had a few side jobs (I teach CPR and First Aid on the side) -- I even picked up some scrap metal for a little extra cash -- and I plowed any extra money back into the savings. I was actually pretty surprised at how fast I was able to build up the savings.
I believe you could do this if you wanted . . . and then buy the exact stove you want . . . there will just be that delayed gratification.
Option 2: Get a "starter" stove. When I got out of college I lived in a small cabin (which my wife and I dubbed "The Love Shack") and I started out with an older Ashley that was given to me . . . eventually I upgraded to a Shenandoah that was given to me by some friends. That old Shenandoah by the way I in turn gave to some friends who needed a starter stove . . . in my own case, I eventually moved and put a new woodstove into my house many years later . . . after a period of time without any woodstove . . . and my friends that inherited the Shenandoah eventually upgraded as well . . . which was good since by then the old woodstove was in pretty tough shape.
This option means you may not get the exact stove you want . . . but you can get a stove that will do the job (i.e. heat your home cheaply . . . or at least cheaper than heating oil) for a year or so. You may opt to go with an inexpensive new option like the Englander or you may get a used stove . . . either bought used or even donated from a friend, family member or co-worker. Look around on Uncle Henrys and Craigslist . . . and don't be afraid to mention to folks that you're looking for a used stove. No one says you have to take the first stove you're offered or that you look at -- especially if it is in poor condition or is too small or large for your needs. But by getting a cheap starter stove you get the advantage of cheaper heat and can start saving towards the stove you really want . . . or you and your wife may fall in love with the homely stove. You may need to modify things a bit to make the stove fit and it may not be quite as nice or quite the right size, but if it heats your home . . . well that's what truly matters . . . wall heat shields can be changed out and hearths can be built to be temporary.
Speaking of hearths . . . if I went with Option 2 I would build my own hearth. This would save you some money . . . and if you're smart you could build the hearth to the size and specs required for your dream stove . . . of course make sure the hearth also meets the manufacturer specs for the starter stove as well.
A few random thoughts . . .
Stove pipe . . . well unless you go with something like the BlazeKing or other stove, you will have a 6 inch stove pipe and chimney . . . so I would suggest buying this new . . . and using it for your dream stove or keeping it for the dream stove after using it for a few years with the starter stove. You can save money here by installing yourself.
Wood . . . as others have said . . . get it now . . . or before . . . and it sounds like you have . . . but be even smarter and make sure you have more than you think you will need. There are few things worse than having good wood and heating all winter long and saving money . . . only to run out of primo wood in middle of February when you need heat for a few more weeks . . . you will cringe every time you have to rely on the boiler for the heat after saving all that money all winter long.
Insulation . . . sounds like you've done well here . . . but take a good hard look to be sure there are no other places you can further insulate and tighten up the house . . . for the dollar . . . insulation saves you a lot of money in both the short and long run . . . I work hard to get my firewood and hate to think that I am losing heat due to a lack of cheap insulation.
Size the stove . . . if you've read stuff here you might see that many of us recommend you size the stove to your home's square footage . . . and then go one size up from what the manufacturer suggests. There are far, far more people here who get a stove and then complain about it being too small and not putting out enough heat then there are people who say the stove was too big and was driving them out of the home due to the heat.
The old Surdiac was a top and front loader and had a thermostatically controlled air supply. I seldom used the front door and miss being able to set the temp and walk away! Never any ashes spilling out with the top loader and it was very nice not to have to kneel down to load the stove. Though it really isn't bad with the DW, as we only have to do it about 3 times a day in the dead of winter. As far as the Taiwan products, I don't think there's anything wrong with buying them. Sometimes it can't be avoided, but it is a shame to see the work taken away from here. It doesn't necessarily mean that the products are of a lesser quality like some people may think. In the case of the old DW's they were obviously well built, as you can prove by having one for over 20 years. I sure am glad they came back to the US when VC purchased the line, though. Mine was made right here in Vermont.
okay, page 5, it's time for a threadjack!
Top loaders, a question for you--have any of you ever tried burning vertical loads?
Back on track to the thread jack. Our first new stove (since an Ashely tin can stove) was purchased a year after we got out of college. We were dirt poor, but this was during the 1st Arab oil crisis and we were renting an uninsulated house. We both had jobs at that point and decided to bite the bullet and not on a cheap stove. We got a new VC Resolute. It cost almost $500 and we paid cash. This was big money for us, but we decided to do with less rather than be cold. The stove (top loader) was great and saved us when we experienced a very serious coldsnap in the low teens and single digits (unheard of in Seattle). Our car was a 14 yr old Volvo wagon, but reliable. No meals out, we always cooked at home and kept things very basic, but we were happy and warm.
Stop selling your toys. How are you gonna get another chick if this one doesn't work out?
Granted, there's some sweet luvin' to be had down by the fire but make sure you keep your options open!
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