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Not Worth it???

Post in 'The Hearth Room - Wood Stoves and Fireplaces' started by Robzheat, Oct 18, 2006.

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  1. Robzheat

    Robzheat New Member

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    After seeing how many pellets my pellet stove is using during these mild Oct days, it doesn't seem like its worth the hassle of storing and luging the pellets when i can turn my heat on. At the rate I'm going , It appears I will burn a about a ton a month. I have a feeling if Natural gas prices do fall this winter as expected, people will do just that, turn their heat on. If that is the case, there should be a surplus of pellets, and hopefully the prices will fall to a more reasonable price.. What are your thoughts???

    My highest heat bill last year in Feb was about 299.00

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  2. BikeMedic2709

    BikeMedic2709 New Member

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    This is why I burn cordwood. It is ALOT MORE work, but is cheaper. I would rather rub two sticks together to produce heat, than pay the gas company any more money. Again, this is why I heat with wood.
  3. Gibbonboy

    Gibbonboy New Member

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    Ditto. I figure you either spend your time working to pay for fuel, or working to process it yourself. Getting cordwood ready to burn is a long, hard process- and some people like doing it more than they like working for money to give to W's Saudi buddies. Even when I bought coal, I at least knew where my money was going, to local business people who then spend it in the area again. Maybe I'm crazy, but turning up the oil thermostat just seems like burning money, even if it is a tad cheaper in some ways.
  4. RoosterBoy

    RoosterBoy New Member

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    amen to that bikemedic im with you 0 on that :)
  5. Mike Wilson

    Mike Wilson New Member

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    I think the general consensus is that you burn a ton per month. Have you tried the Fuel Cost Calculator here on HearthNet? Its a good guide as to when you should stop or start using a certain fuel. Here's a link:

    Fuel Cost Calculator

    For me, at 175/cord, I should burn wood until oil is at 1.10/gallon. In reality, I think you'd see me shift from burning 24/7 to about 12-18 hours per day if oil prices ever come down to 1.50/gallon. At that rate, I'd do it for the wood warmth rather than cost savings.

    -- Mike
  6. Roospike

    Roospike New Member

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    Yep , you said it Mike , there is nothing like wood heat.
    Burning oil , natural gas ect... 68°-70° in the house .

    Wood heat 72° - 76° and cheaper.
    Electric heat is not even in the same ballpark of comfort.
  7. TedNH

    TedNH Member

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    Last year I burned 1700 gallons of propane @ $2.06 per. thats 3502$ to heat my house.
    The last fillup was 2.89$ per gallon. that would make my cost for 1700 gallons this year 4913. Thats just stupid.
    I spent 3000$ on the XXV and 1000$ on 4 tons of pellets.
    I bet the stove will pay for itself this winter.
    And
    My house will be 70*+ all the time this year vs. the 58* at night and 64* all the rest of the time that I was making my wife suffer thru in an effort to save some $ last year.
    Its all about being comfortable. I have no regrets about the pellet stove.
    As a matter of fact Im now shopping for an extra ton of fuel.
  8. Roospike

    Roospike New Member

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    Well it will at least pay you back $913.oo this year and $3913.oo next year.
  9. BrotherBart

    BrotherBart Hearth.com LLC Mid-Atlantic Division Staff Member

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    I did an in-depth analysis and I believe that it is more economical and easier to heat with natural gas. Pellets are too expensive, the stoves make funny noises and you go crazy over hard or soft wood pellets. Cord wood is too much work, has spiders and stuff in it and you could end up in an asylum over cat versus non-cat. Whichever you get you will always wonder if the other one would have been better. That was the scientific results of the study.

    Well, at least until after I get the last two of these Jotul gas/propane stoves sold. Then I will redo the analysis. For now I have to go re-cover the woodpile. It is supposed to rain.
  10. recppd

    recppd New Member

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    Sounds like you need some insulation...
  11. webbie

    webbie Seasoned Moderator Staff Member

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    If you want to count accurately - BTU for BTU -

    LP at 2.50 a gallon (I think that is the current price - and it might come down)

    that is 100,000 BTU

    Wood pellets at 8200 BTU per pound - that means about 12 lbs to make 100,000 BTU.

    Price is about 13 cents a pound (260 ton delivered).

    12x13=$1.56

    So, pellets are equal to LP at $1.56 a gallon.

    Talking about last year, that would represent a 25% savings. So if it cost you 3502 with LP, it would be about 2700 with pellets - a savings of $800. That does not count the extra service of the pellet stove or life span, etc. We could subtract about $400 a year for that (stove last 10 years at 300 a year plus cleaning for $100)....... that makes a real savings of about 500 a year, or a 6 year payback. You are losing another $150-200 a year or more in income because that 3 grand could be invested.

    All of these figures are guesses since either fuel can go up or down.
  12. smirnov3

    smirnov3 Feeling the Heat

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    That's a nice theory. I hope it's true.

    If you used that much propane to heat a house to that low a temp, you have one of two problems:

    1) You don't have any insulation. In this case, you will burn through a LOT more than 4 tons of pellets.

    2) your propane furnace / heat distribution system is seriously ill. Then your guess is right on.

    Personally, I am in the same boat as you: I burnt 1400 gallons of oil to heat an insulated 2000 sqft house to 64F - 60F (depending on whether the radiator in that room got hot). I'm hoping to burn 3-5 tons of pellets, and save $1k or more.
  13. HarryBack

    HarryBack New Member

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    im jealous of you guys who can get natural gas! Would you believe it isnt available where I am? The only gas available is trucked-in propane.....NOT a good deal. I burn about 5 tons of pellets per year. Id be really surprised to see the price of pellets drop this winter, as most of the pellet co's contract for sawdust at a set rate for the season, but in the spring, if fuel is still cheap, who knows? Ive said before though, I think there might be a correction in the market this winter....in fact, I believe we are right around the corner for a correction, at least in areas like New England where we seem to have very high prices compared to other areas of the country. There has been a pretty big influx of softwood pellets to New England that wasnt here last season, the pellet co's are shipping less overseas as well. The correction may occur when the pellet co's start to see their ready inventory sitting on the ground start to swell, with carloads of raw material still to unload. I like to think most folks have purchased their winters' worth of pellets by now as well. As the pellet co's see this, at some point, Im hoping they decide to lower prices to move product, rather than see it sit till next season.
  14. elkimmeg

    elkimmeg Guest

    I have seen a vast slow down in construction and pellet stoves only 4 permits so far this year 1/2 threw Oct last year 28 pellet stove permits.

    More gas stove permits than last year. The pellet industry got caught last year with the demand, this year they may get caught holding them.
    When all other energy prices have dropped they are near all time highs. I mean oil is now be offered at $1.95 a gal.

    Money might be better spent button up homes draft proofing, insulation, better windows, Plus they qualify for tax credits.
  15. moog5

    moog5 Member

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    I am in the same boat as Harry, no piped in gas, only trucked in propane. Using my heat pump assisted with electric coils is way too expensive. Pellets are way cheaper than any option I have. I took out a Vermont Castings Resolute Acclaim 12 years ago and started burning pellets because of the convenience. I cut and hauled wood for 20+years as a sole source of heat. I just didn't care for the constant attention the wood stove took to keep the my house warm. Now with my XXV, I just dial in the temp, dump about a bag a day, and get to enjoy the serenitiy of a wood burning fire (something you can't really duplicate with oil, gas, or electric heat). If I had piped in natural gas, I would likely have installed a freestanding gas stove, and been willing to pay a little more per BTU for it's convenience. With respect to comparing BTU's of one fuel versus another, let's not forget about the savings appreciated by zoned heating rather than running a central heating unit (a lot can be saved when you concentrate on only keeping the main living areas warm, the bedrooms cooler, and use extra of blankets (or your significant other) when your sleeping.
  16. trb157

    trb157 New Member

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    For those of us fortunate enough to live in Central Pa, coal is by far the cheapest per BTU and per labor cost (your own). I get alittle tired of emptying ash but I just dump it on the gravel township road and everybody loves the winter traction. Coal is about 160 a ton here and last year I burnt 3 tons in a two story 1800 square foot house. It's an old house with actually no fiberglass insulation but the walls are plaster/lathe drywall over that, 2"wood plank siding originally, 1" wood siding over that, asphalt shingle siding over that, and then insulated aluminum siding. No idea what the R value of that is?! The coal stoker kept things almost too hot at times but it was nice not paying the oil man. $3000 stove, minus about $1500 in oil cost, plus $500 in coal. Stove will pay itself off in a few years. Sweet
  17. smirnov3

    smirnov3 Feeling the Heat

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    I .... heat .... to 64F - 60F (depending on whether the radiator in that room got hot).[/quote]


    Folks, we have another Spartan within our midst.

    I tip my hat.[/quote]

    Spartan, nothing.

    My wife took one look at how much we were paying for heating oil, and cranked the thermostat from 68 all the way down.
  18. Robzheat

    Robzheat New Member

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    what is a spartan
  19. TedNH

    TedNH Member

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    Lets say Propane stays at 2.00$ per gallon.
    I could spend 3400$ on 1700 gallons to heat my house or a year/over the winter @ a temp average of 62*.
    or
    I can spend 1000$ on 4 tons of pellets to heat my house for a year/over the winter @ a temp average of 68*.

    Only thing I see there is a 2400$ savings in the first year. If you dont count purchase of the stove.
  20. elkimmeg

    elkimmeg Guest

    Ted mazkes a good point but he has given valid reasons money should be spent insulationg and draft proofing homes.
    Its one thing to pay for heat but my theory I would like to enjoy it a while longer. What if $250 for additional draft stopping and insulation
    saves a ton of pelet burning? What if you can improve the effeciency of your central heating system and it's delivery?
  21. TedNH

    TedNH Member

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    yup.
    My house is an open concept with vaulted celings. The baseboards in the house were not able to keep up with the heat loss caused by some huge windows that I had. I say had because I removed them this summer and replaced them with a nice insulated wall and some new Marvin windows and a new slider. I suspect that most of my heat was going out those windows. This winter will be the test. My furnace is 2 years old so the technology is good.
    It is very hard to determine where and how you are loosing heat.
    Here is a photo of what I was dealing with. Last winter I covered them with plastic.

    Attached Files:

  22. TedNH

    TedNH Member

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    And this is what I ended up with. Still not finished but I suspect much more heat friendly!

    Attached Files:

  23. webbie

    webbie Seasoned Moderator Staff Member

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    You are not looking at the BTU comparison!
    Also, if I bought a bunch of solar panels for electric and hot water, should I calculate the payback and NOT figure in the initial cost or maintaining them?

    1700 gallons of LP = 170 million BTU's
    4 tons of Pellets = 65 million BTU

    Perhaps you have a terrible furnace, but the price comparison point is this - if you bought an LP freestanding stove and installed it upstairs - using your figures (65 million BTU), you would burn 650 gallons of LP in it.....for the EXACT same heat as the Pellet stove.

    There are a lot more reasons than money to buy a pellet or wood stove. However, for the proper education of our readers I think it is important to compare BTU for BTU as opposed to "My friend heats his house to X with x".
  24. webbie

    webbie Seasoned Moderator Staff Member

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    1. If you had piped in Natural Gas, chances are that it would be cheaper than pellets per BTU
    (it would have to be $1.75+ per therm to equal pellets at 250)
    2. The savings of zone heat apply to natural gas, oil, wood, pellet or even electric freestanding heaters, so BTU to BTU is the only fair comparison

    I will not debate the romance notion....except to say that my wife does not like the smell of creosote or smoke!
  25. smirnov3

    smirnov3 Feeling the Heat

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    I would guess that a lot of your heat is sitting up near your ceiling. I would guess that your upstais is much warmer than your downstairs. try snugging your fan closer to the ceiling & run it during the winter. see if it helps push some of that warm air back down.
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