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How much $$$ will you save using a pellet stove?

Post in 'The Pellet Mill - Pellet and Multifuel Stoves' started by Mainiac, Sep 24, 2008.

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  1. Mainiac

    Mainiac New Member

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    I'm sure somewhere this topic has been started but I surfed through page after page of topics and couldn't find it so... start another one maybe? I'm trying to do the math to justify the purchase of a new pellet stove. If my math is flawed by even a little I suspect I'll still come out way ahead in the long run... just a little taste of what I've been working on. Of course there is no way to predict what oil prices will be but just for example:

    Pellets cost $279 per ton
    Oil $3.29 per gallon
    use per year is approximately 1,200 gallons
    I'm told a ton of pellets is roughly equal to 1 tank of oil. (250 gallons)

    If I use 1 tank for sept-nov, dec, jan, feb, march-april total of 5 tanks = $4,112 oil
    or $3.29 avg. x 250 gallons = $822.50 or I can burn 1 ton of pellets instead at $279 for a savings of $543.00 instead of oil.

    $543 x 5 = $2,715 savings in the first winter.

    $1,899 (cost of new pellet stove)
    $300 (new exhaust)
    $837 (cost of 3 tons of pellets)

    I figure break even 1st winter... future winters, priceless. :)

    Thoughts about what YOU are saving or where my math is "fuzzy math"?

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  2. DiggerJim

    DiggerJim Feeling the Heat

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    There are lots of variables to consider -- efficiency of the stove vs. efficiency of the oil burner, layout of the house, insulation, etc. etc. You're not likely to replace all of your oil with pellets unless you live almost exclusively in the pellet stove room or you've got an extremely open design and you get a much larger & more expensive stove than implied by your $1800 cost.

    You can use this calculator to give you a rough idea of costs/efficiencies/etc for various fuels: http://www.pelletheat.org/3/residential/compareFuel.cfm
  3. hossthehermit

    hossthehermit Minister of Fire

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    I think most REALISTIC estimates are around 1 ton of pellets = about 120 gal. oil
  4. sinnian

    sinnian Minister of Fire

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    It is an ever evolving, never ending figure. When I ordered my PB150 my return was 3.5 - 4 years because the price of oil contracts were around $5.00/gal. Now with the decrease in price it has moved closer to 10 years. In the end it does not matter to me ~ though it isn't easy being green, it sure feels good.
  5. thekid_1

    thekid_1 New Member

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    A ton of pellets is more like 110 gallons of oil.
  6. mkmh

    mkmh New Member

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    This topic comes up all the time, and you'll get lots of different opinions out here. I think the starting point for your math is fine (2 tons pellets = 250 gallons of oil), but as DiggerJim pointed out, every situation is a bit different and results vary.
    Generally speaking a 1 year break even is very unusual. 2-4 years is much more typical. Also, if you want the number to work and to see big dollar savings, you have to assign a rate of zero to your extra time you put in (versus time spent with the oil furnace) dealing with pellets, tending the stove, doing maintenance etc.

    Anyhoo, i'd say yes you are going to save money over the long haul, but temper your expectations a little bit and do consider the extra time you'll spend with the pellets, and stove
  7. DiggerJim

    DiggerJim Feeling the Heat

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    Oil at 100% efficiency has about 138000 BTU/gallon. Pellets have about 16million BTU/ton. So, at 100% efficiency 1 ton of pellets equals 118.8 gallons of oil. Now oil burners and pellet stoves aren't 100% efficient but by & large they're pretty close to each other (in terms of burning efficiencies around 80%ish). Your oil burner may be more efficient in getting heat to the places you want it (like the whole house) or less efficient (e.g. a couple of rooms and you don't have zone controls) so the equivalency gets even harder. But hand grenade math suggests using a more conservative 100 gallons of oil vs 1 ton of pellets --- which seems to be Craig's (our fearless webmaster) favorite "just move the decimal point on the price" method.
  8. ktfinch2000

    ktfinch2000 New Member

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    100 gallons to 1 ton seems correct.
  9. webbie

    webbie Seasoned Moderator Staff Member

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    Very fuzzy math - you can see why we are in trouble with the economy!

    If one is going to be honest with themselves - and, face it, very few are - we have to figure in ALL the variables. That means the cost of money (to buy the stove), cleaning and servicing it, hauling the pellets, loading, etc.

    Even a simple calculation like this can be tough!

    BUT, for the old general rule of thumb - use this.....just move the decimal point.
    $279 pellets = $2.79 oil. That does consider a little slop, such as the price of the stove, etc.

    Using that, we can see that your savings for EACH ton burned is about $50. Burn 4 tons a year, and save $200.

    The calculation improves when you get pellets cheaper off-season, and....for the short time when oil was higher....and, for LP gas and electric heat.

    For instance:
    $220 pellets vs. $4.00 oil - now we see a savings of $180 for each ton burned, or $720 a year. Now we are talking!

    You will hear all kinds of BS (as you already did...from the 250 person!)...but it comes down to BTU to BTU. I can provide hard numbers if you like for a particular example, but trust me when I say moving the decimal is the easier way for a general comp.
  10. webbie

    webbie Seasoned Moderator Staff Member

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    Just to save anyone else the typing, let me state some of the usual answers:

    "Well, how do you explain that I burned 2 tons and saved $1000?"
    or
    "I saved much more than that?"

    How is this possible? The answer is that you have to ask Tom Cruise or John Travolta.....they paid a lot of money and can show you how Scientology made them "clear". (sorry to the scientologists on the board, but at the same time I don't believe in Pay to Pray).

    A lot of people, including my friendly fellow board members, will argue that personal experience trumps reality, physics and science. If that were the truth, I somehow developed the ability to levitate in my dreams once...I actually did fly! It was real. Perception is everything. I can show you multi-million dollar companies (you see and hear the ads) that sell ELECTRIC heaters and claim you can save hundreds or thousands on your heating bill with them. That is despite the fact that electric is the most expensive fuel out there. Somehow, if you spend a lot of money on this heavily advertised heater, common sense flies out the window.

    Anyway, those who are great optimists and want to brag to their friends can use 1 ton-125 gallons, those who are bankers and Warren Buffet types can use 100.
  11. chrisasst

    chrisasst Minister of Fire

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    when I was using my oil furance, I was spending approx $600 a month...with pellets, I am spending $250 a month and I am not using my oil at all.
  12. Mainiac

    Mainiac New Member

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    I figured my numbers are a bit on the optimistic side as far as total savings. As expected I don't plan on using pellets as my primary heat source. That will be the good old furnace... but to cut back on oil I plan on installing a programable thermastat and programing to turn down during the daytime while at work, and in the evening while sleeping... turn the pellet stove up in the afternoon when I get home from work to "kick it up a notch" for a few hours and then back down.... I'm guessing that the stove being in the basement will really heat up the stone / brick foundation I have and radiate heat for hours after it's been turned down. The stove I'm looking at has a huge hopper and a slow burn setting which should help maintain the overall heat level in the home so the furnace doesn't have to work so hard to raise the temp all the way up to 65 / 68 degrees.... with oil prices all over the map and an uncertain future ahead thought it would be an excellent way to have options for heat rather than just relying on oil. :)
  13. wb2bhc

    wb2bhc New Member

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    The calculations can go on and on. Looking at all the variables from average temperatures and degree days to
    the cost of oil in foreign markets all these are quite a valuable way of looking at the economy of a pellet stove
    installation.

    But overall it comes down to the look on your face as the oil truck drives down the road passing your house is
    PRICELESS

    Have a warm and toasty winter

    Jay
  14. webbie

    webbie Seasoned Moderator Staff Member

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    Please don't say you are installing the stove in an unfinished basement and expect to heat up the foundation....please.....please....

    You do understand that there are hundreds of tons of cold earth and cement at a constant 45 degrees (Maine)......and you are going to heat it up with a pound or two of pellets per hour?

    Put the pellet stove in the living area or use a pellet furnace and tie into duct work. Otherwise, the cost will be HIGHER that the cost of oil.

    You are correct in that BIGGEST savings often comes from conservation and other common sense cutbacks.
  15. Mainiac

    Mainiac New Member

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    I am curious... can anyone tell me how many bags per day they use in the dead of winter? Each bag is 40 lbs correct? The prices I heard avg. $4-5 per bag depending on premium, hardwood, softwood etc.... is that correct?


    "Please don’t say you are installing the stove in an unfinished basement and expect to heat up the foundation....please.....please....

    You do understand that there are hundreds of tons of cold earth and cement at a constant 45 degrees (Maine)......and you are going to heat it up with a pound or two of pellets per hour?

    Put the pellet stove in the living area or use a pellet furnace and tie into duct work. Otherwise, the cost will be HIGHER that the cost of oil.

    You are correct in that BIGGEST savings often comes from conservation and other common sense cutbacks."

    .... thank your pointing it out. I am aware of what you are saying and have considered it & realize I can't "heat the foundation". However it won't be radiating cold air (45 degrees into the house if the basement is heated) The floor plan in my home doesn't allow me to install in in the living area or I would LOVE to. I've got a 1900's Victorian. My livingroom is 15' x 15' and has 5
    doors & 2 windows and zero exterior wall space to install... :( I have FHW Baseboard heat. The home previously had FHA but a previous owner took it out. The only remaining evidence of FHA is the floor vents in 1st floor of the home. The only option I have is installing in basement and allowing heat to rise through the vents in the floor.
  16. webbie

    webbie Seasoned Moderator Staff Member

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    No forum member in recent memory is paying $4 a bag (200 a ton delivered) in Maine.

    You mentioned 279, that is about $5.50 to $6 which is what the average delivered price is right now in your neck of the woods.

    In cold weather, expect to burn 2 bags per 24 hours. That is 3 pounds per hour or about 20,000 BTU (1/6 the output of a typical oil furnace - or the same size as a large kerosene heater).
  17. Mainiac

    Mainiac New Member

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    "In cold weather, expect to burn 2 bags per 24 hours. That is 3 pounds per hour or about 20,000 BTU"

    I'm Sorry, you are right I meant $5-6 per bag... so even if it was $6 a bag delivered, two bags per day thats $12 per day to heat x 30 days is $360. Maine oil avg for today is $3.46 x 250 gallons = $865 for a month
    That according to my caculations saves $505? Did I do that right?

    *And THANK YOU everyone for your insight and input in replying... I haven't bought the unit yet and your feedback, recommendations etc. are humbly appreciated as I'm a rookie, new to all of this. :) I guess I'm just trying to understand / research what to expect before plunking down $2,000 for a fairly high maintenence heater (have to feed it everyday, clean it etc.) compared to making a quick phone call to the oil guy and saying "I need 200 gallons" and watching the next foot ball game & drinking a cold beer. LOL Thank You!
  18. DiggerJim

    DiggerJim Feeling the Heat

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    Do you have an existing fireplace (can't imagine a 1900s Victorian that doesn't)? If so, you can vent a stove (free standing or insert) up through the fireplace chimney (you run a pellet vent liner up the masonry chimney). Check out Thelin stoves (http://www.thelinco.com/) as they would seem to match the decor of an old Victorian nicely.
  19. Mainiac

    Mainiac New Member

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    Nope no fireplace..... :( Honestly the best place for a stove would be on the central chimney that runs right up the house... has thimbles on both sides where I assume old coal / wood stoves had been but they are now closed off as the FHW oil furnace uses the chimney. (only one flue / clean out as well).... wish it was 2 would save me ALOT of headaches with my problem.
  20. CelciusMaximus

    CelciusMaximus Member

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    the beauty of a pellet stove or similar is ,you can heat the main area of your home where you spend most of your time.
    other areas like bedrooms , second floors or little occupied rooms may be left unheated. this alone may provide a great cost savings.
    but there are many variables involved.
  21. webbie

    webbie Seasoned Moderator Staff Member

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    Those are seat of the pants calculations - sort of like saying "I saved the price of a car because I rode a bike to work last week".....

    The reality is that a pellet stove burning 2 bags a day in a Maine basement will not replace the oil.....not nearly......

    Now, I cannot argue with beer and football games, if that is part of your heating calculations......but, again, if you are going to be fair to yourself, you have to compare BTU to BTU. Why? Because, as you say, before you deal with the hassle of manual work, it pays to be somewhat accurate.

    So let's try another example........

    Let us say you are going to install EITHER a pellet stove in your basement OR a new oil burning Monitor-type high efficiency oil burner in the same space.
    http://www.monitorproducts.com/products/roomheaters/kerosene/m2400

    BOTH burn at about the same BTU rate - let's use that same 20,000 BTU an hour output.
    You would use 4 gallons of oil in 24 hours to maintain that output.
    You would use 75 lbs or so of pellets in 24 hours to maintain that output.

    The oil would cost $14.00/day at $3.50 a gallon - or $420.00 a month
    The pellets would be a total of about 2400 lbs - 60 bags, at $6 would equal $360.00

    Savings would be $60 for that month.

    There it is, in black and white. It does not include beer jokes or bud commercials.

    And, still , NEITHER an oil stove or a pellet stove is a good idea for unfinished basements when you are trying to heat a home.
  22. kyburnr

    kyburnr New Member

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    Mainiac,

    Here is what I have learned from reading a VERY LARGE amount of threads on this forum:

    You may use 1 Ton of pellets or you may use 7 tons of pellet
    Using the fan only on your central system MAY or MAY NOT work for you
    Moving warm air to cold rooms may work for you
    Moving cold air to your stove may work better
    You may save thousands, hundreds, or tens of dollars this winter
    placing the stove in an unfinished basement usually is no good
    Using open floor vents rarely works

    To sum up:
    People on here are from different areas. We have Winter, Spring , Summer and Fall here, Some people on Here have 2 seasons Winter and 4th of July :) , Everyones house is different. INSULATION and CIRCULATION varies. Not trying to be smart, in any way, these are good people and what they write can be very helpful, but the only way to find out how well it will work for YOU is try it, and hope for the best!!!!!!!! Good Luck to you.
  23. woodsman23

    woodsman23 Minister of Fire

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    You need to be heating the area you live in the most. If you live in the basement all the time then yes put er in. But if you live upstairs as i think you do then put the stove in the main living area and you will get the very best results. Unfinished basements that are not insulated properly just cannot work. Put the stove in the living area and be surprised.

    Whatever you decide, good luck
  24. lessoil

    lessoil Minister of Fire

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    Well put!
    It will be interesting to see the results from everyone next Spring!!
    I have calculated until my head spins!!
    We were burning 30 or so gals of oil a week during extended cold spells. (900 gals/yr for heat and hot water)
    That will be my main reference point. The other will be how comfortable everyone is.
    I will stop there as my head is starting to spin again!
  25. kyburnr

    kyburnr New Member

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    I have also heard some others do have 4 seasons, Almost winter, Winter, Still winter , and Road construction.
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