1. Welcome Hearth.com Guests and Visitors - Please enjoy our forums!
    Hearth.com GOLD Sponsors who help bring the site content to you:
    Hearthstone Soapstone and Cast-Iron stoves( Wood, Gas or Pellet Stoves and Inserts)

Nice Pellet Stove Story with a Twist

Post in 'The Pellet Mill - Pellet and Multifuel Stoves' started by teddy1971, Sep 6, 2008.

Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.
  1. teddy1971

    teddy1971 Member

    Joined:
    Jul 10, 2008
    Messages:
    173
    Loc:
    Orange County NY

    Helpful Sponsor Ads!





  2. MCPO

    MCPO Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    May 1, 2008
    Messages:
    2,225
    Loc:
    western Ma , close to NY state border
    I`d like to talk about that writer about a bridge I have for sale. I`m not buying this tale for a minute!
    No way is he going to convince me that his electric heat is costing him less than burning pellets ($900) the previous year .
    I also have to question why in the world would he install a new electric heat system @ over $4K just two yrs ago when he was shell shocked with the operating costs 25 yrs ago? This definitely is not a rational decision for someone who has burned wood products for 25 yrs to escape the costs of heating with electricity.
    Electric heat was just as efficient back then as it is now and most certainly is a hell of a lot more expensive now.
    Obviously there`s a lot more to this fairy tale than what he`s telling.
  3. BrotherBart

    BrotherBart Hearth.com LLC Mid-Atlantic Division Staff Member

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2005
    Messages:
    29,148
    Loc:
    Northern Virginia
    His story is repeated around here all the time. The new heat pumps just sip electricity compared to the old ones. All of my neighbors have replaced theirs with new more efficient ones and think I am insane to spend my time whacking and lugging wood. In the next couple of years we will be putting one in to replace our defunct for years old one.

    Even with the old heat pump, heating with it was cheaper than buying wood would have been.
  4. cac4

    cac4 New Member

    Joined:
    Jul 11, 2008
    Messages:
    376
    Loc:
    Essex County, MA
    gee, I want one of these magical devices that will heat my house with less electricity than a pellet stove uses.

    did he neglect to mention that he also replaced his electric water heater/dryer/stove with a gas unit?

    or does this magical device contain its own nuclear reactor? or what???
  5. DiggerJim

    DiggerJim Feeling the Heat

    Joined:
    Jul 29, 2008
    Messages:
    497
    Loc:
    Northcentral Connecticut
    I'm skeptical because he's claiming it cost less to heat with electricity than it cost for electric (presumably, lights, refrigerator, etc.) alone -- his first bill with electric heat was LESS than the month before WITHOUT electric heat. That's the stuff magic fairy dust is made of.

    Something with KWH expended before/after and oil/pellet/NG usage before & after would provide some real data that might convince me that a wonderous new heat pump (although that's not stated - just a new electric heat system...could be new baseboards for all we know) might be cheaper than older ones and possibly cheaper than pellets but without data I'm not buying this without a 1lb grain of salt.
  6. MCPO

    MCPO Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    May 1, 2008
    Messages:
    2,225
    Loc:
    western Ma , close to NY state border
    Yes, lots of things get repeated such as that from those claim to heat their entire house on 2 tons of pellets . Although I probably could too if I didn`t live in western Mass and kept the house at 55 all day and slept in cold bedrooms ,and onlky heated the living rm and kitchen. But, then again 100 bags of pellets at 3/4 -1 bag a day on low can only last 100-125 days and that`s on a low maintenance burn. And that`s for 3 cold months. Jan,feb, Mar. What do these folks do in late Oct , nov, dec and april?
    Folks who make these claims should offer a few qualifiers along with what at least seems to be grossly exxagerated statements.
    That said , I am aware of the benefits of a heat pump. However , from what I understand the efficiency of a heat pump isn`t as high around here. BTW I didn`t see any mention that he was using a heat pump or did i miss it?
    I`m gonna look into it more though.
    Thanks Bart.
  7. cac4

    cac4 New Member

    Joined:
    Jul 11, 2008
    Messages:
    376
    Loc:
    Essex County, MA
    unless I missed something, all it said was that he switched from running the pellet stove, to running this "magical" $4000 electric device, and his electric bill went down. steadily.

    if it was "baseboards", it would have cost more like $400. If it was a geothermal system, it would have cost more like $40,000. (or more). but $4000....I'm thinking some kind of heat pump. But it would have to be a "magic" heat pump. You don't find them up north much because the temperature differential between the ground and the air is just too much. (i.e. "its really cold here").
  8. MCPO

    MCPO Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    May 1, 2008
    Messages:
    2,225
    Loc:
    western Ma , close to NY state border
    I don`t actually think anyone will dispute that a newer electric heat pump system can save money over resistance type electric heat system but they are generally designed for moderate temperature regions. The savings factor decreases as regional temperatures drop.

    Below is an article I`ve researched and you can believe that the claims of 30-40% are (as usual exxagerated), not typical , and most likely found in optimum conditions and in an optimum installation..
    Even at 30% savings I still don`t see these units "sipping" consumption .

    "The most common type of heat pump is the air-source heat pump, which transfers heat between your house and the outside air. If you heat with electricity, a heat pump can trim the amount of electricity you use for heating by as much as 30%–40%. High-efficiency heat pumps also dehumidify better than standard central air conditioners, resulting in less energy usage and more cooling comfort in summer months. However, the efficiency of most air-source heat pumps as a heat source drops dramatically at low temperatures, generally making them unsuitable for cold climates, although there are systems that can overcome that problem. "
  9. teddy1971

    teddy1971 Member

    Joined:
    Jul 10, 2008
    Messages:
    173
    Loc:
    Orange County NY
    As a newbie to using pellets I was impressed to see the benefit to utilizing a pellet stove over using a wood stove. Especially since the subject has a home similar to mine. I was not too taken back by the subjects claims that it was cheaper to use his new electric system than to use pellets. Granted the user replaced a 38 year old electric heat system a new one which we all know is going to have savings over the old one because of efficiency. But I also noticed that the pellet stoves he purchased were 15 year old. I am assuming that the newer pellet stoves are more efficient and have more features than the older stoves so he may have seen some savings by replacing the pellet stoves with newer ones. I am not going to judge anyone for their opinion especially since he seems to be happy with his choice. I mainly chose pellets because I don't know what the future holds when it comes to the commodities market and I rather have choices in regards to how I'm going to heat my home.
  10. MCPO

    MCPO Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    May 1, 2008
    Messages:
    2,225
    Loc:
    western Ma , close to NY state border
    I don`t think anyone was judging the writer , only questioning the accuracy of his electric costs.
  11. webbie

    webbie Seasoned Moderator Staff Member

    Joined:
    Nov 17, 2005
    Messages:
    12,100
    Loc:
    Western Mass.
    Simple facts.....

    A good heat pump can deliver a COP of 3-4 in mild colder weather.

    That means it is 3 to 4x as efficient as electric resistance heat.

    We have, in other threads, laid out scenarios showing:
    1. The total cost of a pellet stove is often comparable with oil heat ($300 delivered pellets, $3.50 oil) when the initial cost and yearly service and parts and hassle are properly figured in.
    2. Given the rise in oil, electric heat is not vastly more expensive in many areas! In fact, when the actual delivered efficiency if figured in, electric can be the same price - giving the room-to-room zoning, etc.

    Even if oil was 1/2 the price of electric (which it is in many areas), making that electric 3X as efficiency (COP=3) would mean that electric would cost vastly less than oil, and as a result less than pellets.

    All this stuff is subject to MANY regional differences and house construction, etc.
    No doubt pellets are usually much cheaper than electric resistance heat........but a heat pump changes the equation.

    Personally, I would not feel married to any fuel. I'll be one of the first to buy a good electric car, and I will not wax poetic about the lack of that old gasoline engine.
  12. MCPO

    MCPO Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    May 1, 2008
    Messages:
    2,225
    Loc:
    western Ma , close to NY state border
    Here`s what looks to be a fair take on the subject of heat pumps in New England.
    Be sure to read it all especially the SEER ratings and how they can be interpreted and the amount of savings in colder weather.
    Obviously there are newer systems and heat pumps that can save some money compared to those of old but there is no magic bullet when it comes to heating an average house in New England.
    Lets be sensible now, if heat pumps worked so well here they would be selling as hot as pellet stoves are.



    http://www.askthebuilder.com/294_Heat_Pumps_-_How_Well_Do_They_Work_.shtml
  13. DiggerJim

    DiggerJim Feeling the Heat

    Joined:
    Jul 29, 2008
    Messages:
    497
    Loc:
    Northcentral Connecticut
    Which just makes Connolly's claims even harder to swallow.

    Consider this. He says he put the new system in 2 years ago and didn't run it the first year because he was afraid of the costs and began using it for the 06/07 season when he was challenged by his son. That means the electric for his base year used for comparison ("the previous year" that he refers to throughout the back half of the article) represented his use of electric for lights & refrigeration and possibly cooking & hot water (he doesn't say if he has gas for those but I'd expect not if he installed a new electric system rather than a gas one). Regardless, during the 05/06 heating season he did not use electric heat but did use electricity for other normal uses (and a pellet stove for heat).

    So when he says his first month of heating with electric (September 06) was $54.69 (and October was 64.41) LESS than the year before something else is up. He cannot have heat + normal electric and have it cost less unless either he substantially reduced using electricity for other purposes (like lighting, cooking, etc.) enough to offset the addition of the electric heating (and more) to generate the savings...or the utility reduced the rate. I find both of those scenarios unlikely. Assuming the electric rate was the same (or higher) his real solution was not moving from pellets to electric heat but due to whatever else he was doing to save electricity. (There is an offset from not running the pellet stove but according to an old Whitfield manual of the same vintage - 1993 - it consumed 200w when running...at 24hr/day/30 days/mo and 10 cents a KWH he was spending <$15/mo to run the stove 24x7...remember he says he fired up the other stove only when it was in the teens or less...certainly not September weather. He wasn't spending 50 or 60 bucks a month running the pellet stove so he can't save that by turning it off without doing something else.)

    You simply cannot use electricity for more stuff and have it cost less unless the rate went down. Regardless of the efficiency of the heat pump - it consumes electricity. It does not generate electricity, it generates heat. The only offset for electric use is that $15 he was paying to run the pellet stove. That's not going to cut his electric bill. He did something besides turn off the pellet stove and turn on the heat pump.

    Or we have to believe his heat pump created $40-50 bucks of electric back into the grid. I would love to have a magic heat pump that uses a negative 400KWH of electric each month. I don't believe in magic (physics rules!) so I think he's full of it. I've sent him a letter to find out the rest of the story (I found him on wwitchboard.com). I'll let you know what I hear...if I hear anything :)
  14. pelletfan

    pelletfan Member

    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2008
    Messages:
    156
    Loc:
    NY
    I hesitated to post first, as I just could not believe it either.
    Agree with some of the posters completely. Some info is missing or wrongly interpreted.
    Age of Pellet Stove (15yrs) is definetely a source of inefficency too as well as not using a thermostat.
    Nevertheless looking forward to hear more news about it.
  15. GVA

    GVA Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Sep 4, 2006
    Messages:
    2,140
    Loc:
    Waxhaw, NC... Formerly North shore Mass
    The old Massachusetts Miracle.........Longtime residents will understand.......
    I'd say the last of the kids moved out of the house this year and there is his savings in electric costs......... :lol:
  16. Dougsey

    Dougsey Feeling the Heat

    Joined:
    Aug 3, 2006
    Messages:
    335
    Loc:
    Epping, NH
    Can I interest you in a shot of rubbing alcohol?
  17. drizler

    drizler Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Nov 20, 2005
    Messages:
    958
    Loc:
    Chazy, NY 12921
    I want to buy me a Piece of that bridge he is selling there. Better get the waders on before you go out to the barn Martha cause the Bullshite is gettin purdy deep. Could this guy be a surviving understudy of Timothy Leary. Sounds like another one of those high priced "oh and ah" come ons that surface whenever prices get high.
  18. rona

    rona Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Apr 2, 2008
    Messages:
    540
    Loc:
    southwestern Minn
    I finally figured it out for you. He bought one of those Paul Harvey electric heaters .
  19. Ductape

    Ductape Member

    Joined:
    Jul 16, 2008
    Messages:
    216
    Loc:
    Central NH
    And THATS .......................................................................................... the rest of the story!
  20. Willman

    Willman Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Jan 15, 2008
    Messages:
    628
    Loc:
    Sabattus Maine
    I was checking out those magic electric heaters the Amish are selling. Seems as though they are way cheaper to use. Only problem I can think of is the Amish don't use electricity ;-)
    Will
  21. gpcollen1

    gpcollen1 Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Oct 4, 2007
    Messages:
    2,026
    Loc:
    Western CT
    C'mon now. Heat pumps work. Are they the answer for everyone, during every season - well, no. What if you just use a heat pump in the shoulder months - thus, only burning the stove December - March in the NE?? What if you get one of those multi-function units - a/c and heat?
  22. billb3

    billb3 Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Dec 14, 2007
    Messages:
    3,523
    Loc:
    SE Mass
    "For reasons I cannot explain, we did not use the new system the first year and continued with the pellets. "


    There seem to be quite a few things not explained.
    With so mch missing it reads more like a tale than a story.
  23. BrownianHeatingTech

    BrownianHeatingTech Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Oct 5, 2007
    Messages:
    1,253
    Loc:
    Northwood, NH
    We have heat pumps with performance well over 12.5 EER (12,500+ btus delivered per 1 kw used). (the EER for resistive heat is 3.4)

    It is possible to see the sort of savings that the author of that article claims. It's not typical, but it is possible.

    For example, I installed three 1-ton minisplits in a house last summer (Fujitsu 12RLQ with an EER of 12.8). (so, 376% the power efficiency of resistive heat)
    (granted, the installed cost on that system would be more than $4k, but that was a few years ago, according to the article, and he may not be including the installation cost)

    One was installed in the master bedroom, one in the guest bedroom, and one in the living room. During the night, the owner would crank down the two unused rooms, and turn up the master bedroom unit. In the morning, he would come down and turn on the oil furnace for a few minutes to re-heat the house, then let the heatpumps carry it through the day. THe coldest couple weeks, he ran on oil alone. As a result, he spent $500 extra on electricity and went from 900+ gallons of oil, down to less than 200 gallons of oil used. 700+ gallons of oil saved, which costs a lot more than $500 these days.

    These units were actually sized for cooling (the heat pump feature was just an added bonus of the high-efficiency models), so the results would have been better if we had planned the system for heating and cooling.

    Under the right circumstances (only using one unit at a time on full, and keeping the others very low) and with top-of-the-line equipment, it's definitely possible to run heat pumps and save more than with pellets. You can also get special electric rates from the power company (at least, here in NH, you can) for a second meter which is used for an electric heat and/or hot water system, which would further reduce the operating costs.

    In some cases, it can certainly work out. In others, it's not really practical. There's no "one right answer" for all situations, and it's important to consider all the options before making any decision of this sort.

    Joe
  24. cac4

    cac4 New Member

    Joined:
    Jul 11, 2008
    Messages:
    376
    Loc:
    Essex County, MA
    Joe, your story is believable, but it doesn't reflect nearly the savings of the newspaper writer. His pellet bill went to 0, and his electric bill went BACKWARDS. its just completely nonsensical. Heating a house in NE, with the equivalent of a couple of light bulbs, would be what we refer to in the computer industry as "PFM".
  25. BrownianHeatingTech

    BrownianHeatingTech Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Oct 5, 2007
    Messages:
    1,253
    Loc:
    Northwood, NH
    Between keeping the house cooler (programmable thermostats) and zoning the heat so that only certain rooms were heated, the numbers are believable...

    Of course, it's an apples-and-oranges comparison: space heaters versus central heating. The savings would not be so great if he was comparing a zoned heat pump system to a zoned, pellet-fired central heating system, both operating with programmable thermostats.

    At current prices here in NH, heat pumps do actually beat pellets in terms of cost per btu of delivered heat. That's unlikely to remain the case, as pellet prices fall again, and electricity always creeps upward.

    Joe
Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.

Share This Page