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)

"Savings" on my gas bill this month $14.81 but actually lost over $58 burning wood?!

Post in 'The Hearth Room - Wood Stoves and Fireplaces' started by geoffm24, Nov 24, 2010.

Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.
  1. geoffm24

    geoffm24 Member

    Joined:
    Sep 1, 2010
    Messages:
    81
    Loc:
    Western MA
    Well I got my first gas bill after burning nights a weekends for my first full month and let me say I am underwhelmed to say the least. I'm using my stove to heat the first floor and using gas for the second floor and hot water. In Oct my gas bill was $53.69 and in Nov it is $86.06. Last Nov the average temps around here were 47.7 and I used 2.5 Therms per day. This year it was 44.5 and I used 2.3 therms per day. So it was roughly 7% cooler out and I used about 8.7% less natural gas. I figure I saved about $14.81 over what my gas bill would have been. the problem is that I burned about 1/3 or a cord doing it. So if a cord of hardwood goes for $175 I used $58.33 worth of wood to save $14.81 in gas! This does not include my time, stove costs, fire starter costs, gas for the saw, gas fo the truck, tools etc. etc. Assuming I paid my self minumum wage I figure I probably lost $100 last month. Great......

    Helpful Sponsor Ads!





  2. BrowningBAR

    BrowningBAR Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Jul 22, 2008
    Messages:
    7,607
    Loc:
    Doylestown, PA

    If I was only paying $100 per month in heating costs, including hot water, I probably wouldn't be burning wood. I'm also guessing your first floor is much warmer than it was last year.
  3. SimpleManLance

    SimpleManLance Member

    Joined:
    Jan 8, 2010
    Messages:
    21
    Loc:
    Hartland MI.
    Wow that doesn't sound like a good deal at all. So what are you going to do? Go back to using the furnace? Do you have the option of cutting down your own wood?
  4. Battenkiller

    Battenkiller Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Nov 26, 2009
    Messages:
    3,740
    Loc:
    Just Outside the Blue Line
    It's hard to base your entire year's savings on your shoulder season performance. Wait until you get your Jan. and Feb. bills and compare then. I think you will be a little happier.

    It's tough to beat NG right now, but that will change soon enough. Anyway, what's a guy with a truck and a saw doing paying $175/cord?
  5. RedGuy

    RedGuy Member

    Joined:
    Oct 30, 2010
    Messages:
    164
    Loc:
    Davisburg, MI
    In all reality it's pretty hard to beat the cost of natural gas, esspecially if you have a high efficency furnace. Now if you have the wood already, then your only spending your time and energy. Propane, oil and electric on the other hand are the MOST expensive ways to heat, by quite abit.

    BTW I would wish for an $80 gas bill, up here in Michigan when I was on Natural gas it cost me about $50 a month in the sumer when I was only running my water heater, stove and dryer. In the winter $300 was pretty normal. Now that I'm on oil, I anticipate $6-700 a month easily on oil alone. Hopefully my soon to be installed wood stove will cut that in half.
  6. BrowningBAR

    BrowningBAR Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Jul 22, 2008
    Messages:
    7,607
    Loc:
    Doylestown, PA

    At current oil prices it would cost about $5,000 to heat my house for the winter. Now, I spend about $800 per winter in heating costs and the house is 15-20° warmer (sometimes more if I'm not watching the stoves...).
  7. RNLA

    RNLA Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Sep 18, 2010
    Messages:
    762
    I believe if I were to do the math of the heating season this year I might run away scared. I will say that I bought wood this year and I am currently using energy logs like they are going out of style. I do not have enough wood and there is not much insulation in this 1941 house. All this to say it could always be worse. I run my own tree company and I had to buy wood....
  8. drozenski

    drozenski New Member

    Joined:
    Aug 14, 2010
    Messages:
    104
    Loc:
    Rochester NY
    1/3 of a cord or 1/3 of a face cord?

    I've been burning in my cast stove 24/7 for over a month now and have just started on my second face cord.

    Not to mention my house in in the high 80's! I dont even sleep with blankes any more.

    Did you also factor in that the gas you bought this year might be more expensive than last year?
  9. NH_Wood

    NH_Wood Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Dec 24, 2009
    Messages:
    2,602
    Loc:
    southern NH
    For those that must buy their firewood - especially in areas where cost is fairly high (here in NH, $250 per cord is not unreasonable) - the cost savings alone will likely not be enough reason to switch to the wood burning lifestyle. If you've spent time on this site, you know that many of us LOVE working with and burning wood - for lots of reasons - exercise, controlling our own source of heat for our homes, not worrying about cold homes during power loss, etc., etc. I sounds like you should stick with NG until the cost of NG starts to get high enough to make burning wood more cost effective for you. Just have some fun with your stove - burn for ambiance and to have a toasty home on those really cold days. Also - if you decide to go mainly NG - take the time to start putting away a lot of FREE wood - scrounge whenever you can. I've scrounged over 20 cord during the past 2 years, so I'm about 4 years ahead (including what is in the barn for this year). I already have 3 cord of free wood ready to scrounge next year, and another 5 or 6 cord of downed trees from an ice storm two years ago (in the neighbor's wood across the street) that I've been given. If you take the time, I'm sure you can begin to collect enough free wood to make the $ savings worth your while (as long as you LIKE doing it!). Cheers!
  10. raiderfan

    raiderfan Feeling the Heat

    Joined:
    Dec 1, 2008
    Messages:
    254
    Loc:
    Western MA
    It is tough to beat NG right now, for sure. I paid almost the exact same as the OP did the last couple of months, w/out running a wood stove on my first floor living area.

    I was laughing the other day at my GF because she wants a pellet stove in our living room, because it is a "cold" room. I told her we'd get one for next year but its funny, because we'd be getting one NOT because we are unhappy with our main heat source pricewise, but because we want to put a band aid on the draftiness of that living room!!!

    But as others have said, heating prices are cyclical. At some point, NG will switch places on the price scale with other fuels and you will be saving money. Until then, I'll be happy with you for using it, instead of oil!!!
  11. Backwoods Savage

    Backwoods Savage Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Feb 14, 2007
    Messages:
    27,815
    Loc:
    Michigan
    Dang, it really makes me appreciate having our own wood! I doubt we could afford to heat with oil here. NG not available. Propane is bad too. I think of this when I am out cutting firewood in the winter months.
  12. BrotherBart

    BrotherBart Hearth.com LLC Mid-Atlantic Division Staff Member

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2005
    Messages:
    30,534
    Loc:
    Northern Virginia
    I would never base any comparisons on the first month burning wood and burning in a new stove. Even after twenty five years of heating with wood I used a third more wood the first year with the NC-30 than I have any winter since. That famous "learning curve" eats wood.
  13. geoffm24

    geoffm24 Member

    Joined:
    Sep 1, 2010
    Messages:
    81
    Loc:
    Western MA
    I certainly expected a learning curve burning wood in the stove but even with free wood I'm losing money when you count the value of my time, the cost of the tools, the cost of the gas, the cost of the gas for the truck to get the "free" wood etc. None of this includes the cost of the stove and install which I just paid.

    I like working the wood and the warmth that the stove is kicking out for sure but never in a million years did I think I would have to pay a significant premium over gas to have it!

    Last year my peak gas bill was about $500 and I was hoping to cut that in half but now I'm just not so sure I'll be able to do that.
  14. Jags

    Jags Moderate Moderator Staff Member

    Joined:
    Aug 2, 2006
    Messages:
    15,873
    Loc:
    Northern IL
    Sumting ain't adding up here.

    Lets see: Cord of hardwood, lets just use maple as a middle of the road example (hard maple) 3680# seasoned.
    1/3 of that is 1227#
    @ 6930 btu per pound thats 8.5 million btu.
    @ 80% efficiency - thats 6.8 million btu entering the home.

    You can buy 6.8 million btu of natural gas for 14 bucks and change???

    Something else is going on here.
  15. joecool85

    joecool85 Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Jan 24, 2010
    Messages:
    855
    Loc:
    Central Maine
    You're right, that math doesn't work out right. I think he's saving more than he is realizing.
  16. geoffm24

    geoffm24 Member

    Joined:
    Sep 1, 2010
    Messages:
    81
    Loc:
    Western MA
    The Wood stove is wasting a lot of BTUs heating the stove room up to between 80-85 degrees and keeping the rest of the first floor at 68-70. Our air return is in the stove room so the furnace pulls the hot air from the stove room and sends it across the first floor to distribute the heat but there is still alot of waste heating the stove room so hot. This all happens running the stove at 400-500 degrees.
  17. certified106

    certified106 Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Oct 22, 2010
    Messages:
    1,472
    Loc:
    Athens, Ohio
    Natural gas is dirt cheap right now and if I had the option of using it I would highly consider it, especially in the shoulder months. I ran the number for my house and NG would only be about $650 a year to heat my house if they would hook me up to the main gas line that is 40 feet from the driveway. I even considered hooking up to it until they gave the estimate of $8,000 dollars to hook up and I told them to shove it (no I'm not kidding about that estimate). So now I have to use propane and the cost of that to heat my house for a year would be about $3,200, so wood is my heat source given those prices. All that being said if NG is that cheap for you and you don't want to expend the time/energy or don't have the option of cutting wood I would use NG.
  18. Fsappo

    Fsappo Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Apr 9, 2008
    Messages:
    4,328
    Loc:
    Central NY
    If you have to buy your wood and pay that premium price for it and your home is equipped with a high efficiency gas furnace, simple math and a little research prior to buying a woodstove would tell you that you werent going to save much money. I dont save money on heating burning wood, but I like the the feel of wood heat and the backup for power outages.
  19. geoffm24

    geoffm24 Member

    Joined:
    Sep 1, 2010
    Messages:
    81
    Loc:
    Western MA
    90% of the wood burned over that period was red maple so it was a pretty low BTU wood.
  20. Jags

    Jags Moderate Moderator Staff Member

    Joined:
    Aug 2, 2006
    Messages:
    15,873
    Loc:
    Northern IL
    Using the furnace duct work to distribute heat from one room to another is usually a loosing situation. A couple of small fans, placed properly will normally yield a better results.
  21. certified106

    certified106 Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Oct 22, 2010
    Messages:
    1,472
    Loc:
    Athens, Ohio
    +1! and I used to design HVAC systems for a living trust me they are not an efficient way to transfer wood heat unless designed with that specific purpose in mind.
  22. northwinds

    northwinds Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Jul 9, 2006
    Messages:
    1,442
    Loc:
    south central WI
    Sounds like it makes sense for you to burn gas during the shoulder seasons.

    I don't pay for wood, and I don't have to pay for the exercise I get harvesting
    and processing wood, so I feel like we save quite a bit burning wood over gas.
    Our monthly gas bill runs under $30 year-round for hot water and the gas stove.
  23. midwestcoast

    midwestcoast Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Oct 9, 2009
    Messages:
    1,745
    Loc:
    NW Indiana
    Well put Jags. I was thinking the math didn't add up.
    Also calculating that it's X% colder this Nov than last doesn't really work (47.7-44.5/44.5) as degrees are based around an artificial zero. Just look at the differences btw Celsius & farenheit @ various temps as illustration. I don't know how you'd do an accurate calc of % colder... but regardless, the ammount of sun, wind... would make the #'s useless in the end. It's the btu's of heat flowing out of your house that determines the heat needed. Basing everyting on 1 month won't give you the full picture. Was the billing period the same length? Were there any estimated readings? Was the house warmer?
    All that aside, there are some hard truths about woodburning vs nat gas. As several have said gas is cheap, especially now, and with a Hi-eff furnace the cost/btu is good. Then you've go t fixed delivery charges, service fees & whatever that you're charged no matter if you use the gas or not (mine are $15/month). If I was buying my wood C/S/D the payback on investment would be loooong to never. Scrounging is what pays & it seems you have all the toys for that, so stop paying for free heat! If you're expecting to make money on your time cutting & splitting, well, I don't see it happening. You have to look at it as a healthy, rewarding hobby, not a job. If it were a real job I'd quit my 9-5 today!
  24. dave11

    dave11 Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    May 25, 2008
    Messages:
    604
    Loc:
    Western PA
    I think its very true that heating with wood is a money-losing proposition compared to natural gas IF you need to pay for your wood. When I don't need to pay for my wood, by my own calculation, I'm just breaking even, when considering the work and time and other expenses involved.

    That said, regarding the efficiencies of the various stoves being listed, they are very unlikely, IMO, to be anywhere close in reality to what the manufacturers say. What they get at the lab under ideal conditions is going to be way higher than what we get at home. When my stove is going, and I walk outside and see those big rippling heat waves rising over the chimney, or see all the snow melting on the roof in the direction of the wind, I know a huge amount of heat is being blasted out into the sky. It's wishful thinking that 80% of the energy in my wood is going into the interior of my house.
  25. geoffm24

    geoffm24 Member

    Joined:
    Sep 1, 2010
    Messages:
    81
    Loc:
    Western MA
    Looking at my bill I used 8 Therms less this year then last year. 1 Therm = 100,000 BTU. Now it was also 3 degrees colder on average this year (last Nov was very warm) so lets say I would have used 10 more therms then Nov 2009. So using this I saved 18 Therms this year or 1,800,000 BTUs. I figure the red maple kicked out 6,000,000 BTUs. The problem is that 4,200,000 of those BTUs were spent heating the stove room and some of the house to a temp above what I would prefer ie 85 degrees.

    So I used 6,300,000 BTUs in gas for everything this months and it cost me $86.06. A third of a cord of red maple would give me that same amount of BTUs for less money even if you were paying for the wood. The issue is that I can't heat my water with the wood and the wood stove doesn't distribute the heat as efficiently as the furnace and central air system so there are too many BTUs being wasted in the stove room and not enough in the far corners of the house it seems.
Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.

Share This Page