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Pellet Stove as a temporary fix for the winter?

Post in 'The Pellet Mill - Pellet and Multifuel Stoves' started by Brian_Live, Jan 2, 2008.

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  1. Brian_Live

    Brian_Live New Member

    Joined:
    Jan 2, 2008
    Messages:
    5
    Loc:
    Eastern CT
    I'm looking for some opinions on installing one of the Englander/Summers Heat stoves in my home to cut down on the current heating cost.

    I understand that under normal circumstances using pellet heat isn't much of a cost savings int he long run. I do have some special circumstances, though. I have a 70 year old 1200 sq ft home in New England with a 50+ year old American Standard steam boiler. Every room in the house has a 4-10 fin single-pipe steam radiator. Efficiency is NOT a word I would use with 100 yards of the thing. It's been relatively mild out this year and I've already gone though over 200 gallons of heating oil since Thanksgiving. I wake up in the morning and if the living room (only insulated room in the house) temp is below 60 I kick the thermostat up to 70. Once the Living room is up to temp (about 60-90 minutes) it goes back off until the following morning. This method usually keeps the downstairs in the 60s all day and the upstairs in the mid 50s-60.

    The way I see it, at $3.10/gal in CT I'm already spending about $10.00 a day to keep my house cold but livable in mild weather. I know without a doubt that I need an entirely new primary heating system. I also know that blown in insulation would help a TON. Unfortunately, with my home improvement budget tied up in a few other projects right now, I can't do anything anything too expensive until the spring. I figure I can install a 1500 sq ft Englander pellet stove in my living room for ~$1500 or less. I could run then the thing wide open for 24 hours all day long for about the same cost as turning on my boiler once a day. My thinking is that if needed I could always kick on the boiler for an extra boost of heat on the really cold days.

    I do see this as a temporary fix to an even bigger problem, though. It may be a challenge getting the heat upstairs, but honestly we're already used to cold bedrooms after a few winters here. I'm really just looking for a more efficient way to provide a STEADYsource of heat for my home right now with the least out of pocket expense. It may not me cheap by other people's standards, but with my current situation I can't imagine it being any more expensive than what I'm spending now!

    Am I at least on the right track or am I completely out to lunch?

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  2. hearthtools

    hearthtools Moderator Emeritus

    Joined:
    Jan 6, 2006
    Messages:
    2,019
    Loc:
    Oakhurst, California, USA, Earth
    Most people only burn (1) 40 bags of pellets in 24 hours some people burn 2

    so the average for 24 hours to heat with pellet is $5.00 to $10 per day to heat a normal house with pellet

    I know in our area it is about $100+ a month less $ than LP to heat with pellet.
  3. davevassar

    davevassar Member

    Joined:
    Oct 30, 2007
    Messages:
    170
    Loc:
    South Central MA
    Brian,
    I'm in your area, I'm right on the MA/CT/RI border. I too was spending tons of money on poil keeping my house at 68-69 degrees. I bought and installed an Enviro Empress insert, and now my house is a nice 72 degrees. I burn between 1 and 2 bags a day. I've never gone above 2 bags a day.
  4. Deed

    Deed Member

    Joined:
    Dec 22, 2007
    Messages:
    57
    Loc:
    Central Me
    Brian
    I have roughly the same size house, but on one floor. Presently have an MT VERNON insert. average temp for Dec was high teens to low 20's used on average 1.10 bags. Keep my temp at 71 degrees front of the house warmer then the back by four to five degrees. Can get it up to a more egual tem with a fan going all the time. I live in Central Maine where I would think our temps have been ten to fifteen degrees colder then you. I say go for it.
  5. jed12674

    jed12674 Member

    Joined:
    Nov 14, 2007
    Messages:
    31
    Loc:
    rochester, ny
    Man, I like the cold. But I like it to be outside not inside. I burn about 2 bags a day in a stove rated to heat 2000+ sq ft. My house is just under 1800 sq ft with no insulation upstairs. Literally none, its under construction. My stove keeps the living room around 80 degrees and the other rooms on the 1st level around 70. I say go for it Brian and be warm. Plus its nice to watch that dancing flame. Good luck and get warm man.
  6. Brian_Live

    Brian_Live New Member

    Joined:
    Jan 2, 2008
    Messages:
    5
    Loc:
    Eastern CT
    Thanks for all the quick replies!

    I guess the biggest concern my wife and I have is whether or not it will adequately heat the second floor. In truth, though, I really don't think it's getting heated now. The radiators up there take so long to get hot now that they only raise the temp a few degrees. I'm pretty sure the only reason we aren't getting frost on the walls now is heat radiating up from down here. I'm hoping with a steady source of heat downstairs things will stay the same or get better up there.
  7. tmiraglia

    tmiraglia New Member

    Joined:
    Nov 26, 2007
    Messages:
    49
    Loc:
    Philadelphia
    There are some posts on here about putting floor vents in and the fire safety concerns. I'm a newbie -- but i have a 40K btu stove and it sends a lot of heat up the staircase (not sure of your layout).
  8. packerfan

    packerfan Feeling the Heat

    Joined:
    Dec 2, 2007
    Messages:
    375
    Loc:
    frozen tundra
    You may wish to go with the 2200 sq. ft model stove which may be slightly bigger and a few more dollars. It will hold more pellets at a time so you don't have to refill it as often. I also think that it looks a little better as well. The larger stove will also put out more heat as well. I have one, and I have to say I like it.
  9. webbie

    webbie Seasoned Moderator Staff Member

    Joined:
    Nov 17, 2005
    Messages:
    12,289
    Loc:
    Western Mass.
    It's all a matter of where and when you want to invest your money. You said "temporary", but it will still cost you up to $2,000 by the time you are finished with the stove, install and some fuel.....and you still have to address all or most of the other problems. $2000 would buy some a brand new steam boiler (not installed), or it would be a down payment on converting the whole system to hot water and perhaps zones.

    So you have to really determine what you want to do both in the short run and in the long run. In that house in this weather, I think you will burn 2 bags a day, which means about $9.00 a day.

    My thought is that if you are going to get a Pellet unit, think about using it forever (not just temporary) for at least some of the heat.....I don't like the idea of temporary solutions that cost a couple grand. That may entail spending more for a stove if you want something that has more style or a larger output....

    If you want to test what kind of a job it will do, perhaps you can rent a kerosene heater from a local rental place for a couple days.
    Then do the math as per:
    http://www.hearth.com/econtent/index.php/wiki/You_and_a_BTU/

    As mentioned there, if you rent a 22,000 BTU kerosene heater and place it near where the stove would go - that kerosene heater is the equiv of 2 bags in 24 hours....and, it will also let you know how the heat will flow.
  10. Brian_Live

    Brian_Live New Member

    Joined:
    Jan 2, 2008
    Messages:
    5
    Loc:
    Eastern CT
    As bad as this sounds... keeping the the downstairs at an even 70 degrees all day and the upstairs in the lower 60's for under $10/day would be absolute heaven around here. My living room barely ever sees 70 with every subsequent room getting colder.

    The layout is fairly simple. It's an old cape... ground floor is about 25x30 with a small addition off the kitchen. In fact the ground floor is pretty close to the floorplan in this post....

    http://www.hearth.com/econtent/index.php/forums/viewthread/10488/

    The major differences are in the foyer. The opening from the living room has been tightened a bit in order to build a closet/half bath downstairs (not ideal but better than the handicap shower that was in the middle of the foyer when we bought the place!) The stairs are strait up the outside wall. There is no porch or bath off of the kitchen, but there is a small addition built in the 50's off the left side that makes the room more rectangular.

    I plan on placing the stove in the only spot I have on the ground floor that the vent distance from doors/windows will meet code without going all the way up the side of the house - angled in the front outside corner of the living room. This puts the stove about 20 feet away from the base of the stairs. It will require removing the steam radiator from this room, though.

    In regards to a few of the previous replies... I did look at the 2200sq ft model. My Living room is about 12x14, though, and based on the epinions review linked in your sig I think it would drive us out of the room rather quickly.

    I also think I may have misspoken by when I used the term "temporary". I don't plan on ripping it out once the proper home improvements are made. I am planning on building a permanent hearth pad for it. I would definitely like a better looking stove for the room, but it's just not in the cards right now. I stupidly did not follow oil prices this year and was shell shocked when I paid over $3 a gallon in November.

    I can pick the stove up for $900 new, the vent kit for $150, toss in a few hundred for the pad and I'm good to go. On the other hand, based on past usage I'm looking at a LEAST 3 more oil fills before spring. At current cost that's about $2400 dollars left this heating season. If it costs me $1400 to completely install the stove and I burn 2 bags a day for the next 90 days I'm looking at $2200 total.

    This is, of course, assuming that it will throw off enough heat that I don't have to worry about running the boiler again this year. Like I said, if I can keep the downstairs about 70 and the upstairs around 60 we're happy. I might consider renting the kerosene heater for a day, but the stove itself is in VERY limited supply at that price - I may have to buy it and lug all 300 lbs of it home and hope I don't return it when the kero heater shows me it won't work after all....
  11. webbie

    webbie Seasoned Moderator Staff Member

    Joined:
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    Messages:
    12,289
    Loc:
    Western Mass.
    At that price you can't go wrong....you could probably resell it for more.
    Make certain you vent it correctly, and if possible have a decent amount of rise on the pipe (see manual and other threads).
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