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"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.

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  1. wood-fan-atic

    wood-fan-atic New Member

    Joined:
    Oct 4, 2010
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    870
    Loc:
    Long Island, NY
    I live the "WORLDS FIRST SUBURB" , Levittown , and, would you believe it, THERE IS NO NATURAL GAS in my area! Its about a mile away, and theyve been saying it will be here 'soon' for years- Im not holding my breath. The first year in the house with oil (original 1947 Levitt ranch, insulation SUX, huge single pane windows) I paid $3000 to heat my house in the winter. About $750 a tankful - 3 tankfuls. Now, I scrounge for my wood(free), and my house is as warm as I want (which is TOASTY), and the oil company keeps coming (need the oil for hot water only)and putting 10-15 gallons in my tank (automatic delivery). I love the work- find,haul,cut,split, stack,.....admire! Not to mention the satisfaction of being in complete control of my heating costs.......I finally trust the guy I get my heat from....God. :cheese:

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  2. Todd

    Todd Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Nov 19, 2005
    Messages:
    9,226
    Loc:
    Lake Wissota
    Are you sure they actually read your meter? Sometimes they just estimate off of previous months because they don't always make all the meter rounds.
  3. buckeye1

    buckeye1 New Member

    Joined:
    Sep 18, 2010
    Messages:
    4
    Loc:
    Southeastern Ohio
    Here are some numbers for you

    Feb. 2007 paid $1900.00 for new Harman TLC 2000
    Fuel usage since purchase of stove
    Four cords of oak, locust, ash and maple from around the property cost: gas, sweat
    4 Tons of Nut Coal cost: $1200.00

    Before stove installation, propane forced air furnace and inefficient fireplace was primary heat source

    To fill tank from 20% to 80% cost $850-950 a load and we used three tanks a year. Last delivery was in Dec. 2008 and still at 60%

    Still factoring in stovepipe, chimney hearth materials and incidentals I look to recoup cost of stove and fuel used to date by this spring.

    Go Bucks
  4. cycloxer

    cycloxer New Member

    Joined:
    Jul 9, 2008
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    715
    Loc:
    Worcester County, MA
    I have both NG forced hot water baseboard in my house as well as the Jotul in the living room. NG is a very good deal right now. I'd say my break-even is roughly $150 per cord. I use both. I like the convenience of the NG, but I prefer the ambiance and warm heat of the wood stove in the evenings. Neither fuel is really going to break my budget at current prices. So, I am not surprised with your figures.
  5. Hiram Maxim

    Hiram Maxim Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Nov 25, 2007
    Messages:
    1,058
    Loc:
    SE Michigan
    Ding Ding Ding!

    That was my first thought as well....

    I just love >:-( how the electric and natural gas companies do this!

    One month the electric company sent me a bill for over $600.00 :eek:hh: estimate of course
  6. Renovation

    Renovation New Member

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    Loc:
    SW MI near Saugatuck
    +1 I've had the same experience.
  7. agartner

    agartner Feeling the Heat

    Joined:
    Dec 9, 2009
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    281
    Loc:
    Southern NH
    NG is tough to beat if you can get it, but like any other service, its a utility. Pricing fluctuates, gas burners break, electricity goes out.. the list goes on. In a "buy wood vs buy ng" situation, it's probably a wash based on current prices. But that woodstove and a few cords of wood stacked out back is an awful nice insurance policy to have when the electricity goes bye-bye in the middle of winter. Sometimes it's not about the ROI, it's about the peace of mind.
  8. raiderfan

    raiderfan Feeling the Heat

    Joined:
    Dec 1, 2008
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    254
    Loc:
    Western MA


    WOW!! My gas co. was able to hook me up for free because the distance from the gas line in the road to my house was less than 65ft. If they gave me that type of estimate just to get hooked up, I'd tell them to shove it too!! It would take you forever to make a savings with that price to hook up, nevermind the added price of putting a boiler in, as well!!
  9. woodgeek

    woodgeek Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Jan 27, 2008
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    2,856
    Loc:
    SE PA
    Using the fuel cost calculator on this site: http://hearth.com/econtent/index.php/articles/fuel_cost_comparison_calculator/

    If you take hardwood at 80% eff and your stated $175/cord, you get $8.75 per million BTU.
    If you take NG at 90% eff and your stated $1.366/therm, you get $15.11 per miliion BTU.

    Theoretically, you can save 15.11-8.75 = $6.36 per MMBTU.
    We can back out the yield in BTU per cord as $175/8.75 = 20 MMBTU/cord.

    Combining, you theoretically save 20 * $6.36 = $127 / cord.

    That said, all the comments above are right on. If you are newb burner, and relighting from a cold stove on a daily basis,
    you are NOT getting 80% efficiency. If we assume you are getting 50% eff, then your wood heat costs $8.75*0.8/0.5 = $14/MMBTU,
    and you would only save $20 /cord.

    Bottom line: with the low ROI for wood heat versus NG it makes sense to burn wood if you enjoy the process/ambiance and already
    have all the necessary hardware installed and paid for. This is what makes us WE/night burners.

    That said, you are still using too much wood for too little heat. IF we look at your numbers, it seems that your eff is <<50% and you
    ARE losing money every time you light up. If you apply yourself to figuring out how to burn your stove more efficiently, and perhaps
    figuring out where the heat you make is going (most likely up the flue with too much air, but also out the back through an exterior
    masonry fireplace?), then you can have the satisfaction of a job well done and the knowledge of saving two bits every time you reload.
  10. Dune

    Dune Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Jan 14, 2008
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    2,832
    Loc:
    Commonwealth Of Massachussetts
    I think some of you folks need one of these http://hilkoil.com/ I built my own, only because I didn't know they were available. S.S., garanteed for life, easy to install.

    As to the O.P., like B.B. said, it is a little too soon to tell.
  11. dave11

    dave11 Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    May 25, 2008
    Messages:
    604
    Loc:
    Western PA
    Don't forget to add in the cost of saws, chains, gas, oil, splitters and mauls, and on and on. Not to mention the cost of the stove, liner, cleaning, and maintenance. And not to mention the various hours spent procuring and processing and stacking and moving all the wood. It's basically a wash when you add it all up.
  12. dave11

    dave11 Minister of Fire

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    Loc:
    Western PA
    Or, modern stoves are far less efficient than we are lead to believe, which is my view.
  13. Shari

    Shari Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Oct 31, 2008
    Messages:
    2,272
    Loc:
    Wisconsin
    Well, now that this topic seems to have been beaten to death let me add my thoughts:

    1. Shut your furnace off - NG savings are immediate! :).

    2. Get a couple of small fans (9" or so), place them at the doorways facing your stove room.

    3. Blow the cold air into the stove room (use a very low speed on the fans).

    In my opinion your furnace air flow is interfering with the natural heated air flow from your wood stove.

    Until you get the heated air flow from your wood stove under control you will continue to suffer disappointment with your wood stove.

    Shari
  14. oldspark

    oldspark Guest

    30 years of no heating bills vs a couple of stoves, chain saws, splitter and time to do it, I would like to think I am ahead of the game.
  15. xNOCx

    xNOCx Member

    Joined:
    Nov 16, 2010
    Messages:
    33
    Loc:
    Bath, Maine
    Another thing to consider is the moisture content of your wood. getting the right hardwoods and having them properly seasoned you should really get around 20% otherwise a lot of BTUs are going into heating the wood to burn it. "Seasoned" doesnt always mean "ready to burn" and this can make a big difference!
  16. Biff_CT2

    Biff_CT2 Member

    Joined:
    Sep 2, 2010
    Messages:
    115
    Loc:
    Central CT
    Gas doesn't look exceptionally cheap, at least by the below numbers, so you'd have to find a way to dramatically cut gas use without buying the cord wood you'd need to come up with as a substitute.
    (US historical average gas prices)
    http://www.eia.doe.gov/dnav/ng/hist/n3010us3m.htm
    (US historical average heating oil prices)
    http://www.eia.doe.gov/dnav/pet/hist/LeafHandler.ashx?n=PET&s=M_EPD2F_PRS_NUS_DPG&f=M

    The last published average national number is $16 per thousand cubic foot, 20% off the all-time high during the summer of 2008 ($20), and 50% higher than the January 2010 number ($10.50).

    That said, prices vary locally from the national averages based on supplier, local, ect.

    Generally, burning wood is a fairly marginal way to save (or make) money. You can do it, but if you're in it for the cash you're better off moonlighting by sacking groceries someplace.

    Locally, with oil heat and assuming 2008-2010 prices, I've got year initial setup recoup period of about 3-4 years, and can expect to see an annual savings of $800 to $1500. That's noise in my (typical) budget compared to the mortgage, retirement savings, kid's education. If you consider the opportunity cost of your time, you're working for way less than minimum wage.

    Personally, I do for the bit of savings, physical activity, and grins. And I'd never blow any of my hard-won savings on commercially available fire starters, wet wood or otherwise... (nod, nod, wink, wink to my buddy Thomas).
  17. cycloxer

    cycloxer New Member

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    Loc:
    Worcester County, MA
    NG is going to be tough to beat with a spot price of <$4 per MMBtu. You can do it, but you need to be getting low cost wood and you need to run your stove as efficiently as possible. A stove may have an efficiency rating of 80%, but you won't see that all of the time. The burn cycle efficiency in a wood stove has wide range of variability whereas a high efficiency NG burner does not. The fuel charge in a wood stove changes whereas the NG is a constant, consistent stream of gas.
  18. Lighting Up

    Lighting Up Feeling the Heat

    Joined:
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    340
    Loc:
    Roc City NY
    In NY State just to get a puff of NG to my forst air furnace with all the taxes and surcharges and God knows what else they slide in, is around $40 even if I use 0 therms. That along ticks me off to the point of willing to pay for wood just so I use less NG and they make less on me. I've saved with my new insert because my old one was inefficient and I get a warmer house because of it.

    There seems to be something wrong with you not being able to move your heat from your stove around your house. Hot air rises so why is that heat not going to your upstairs...mine does.

    But some here have said NG is dirt cheep, well since when did it go down in price? Utility Co buy NG at different times of the year if they buy it when it's high I have to pay there charge even if the price goes down. In past years before my new stove no matter how I tried to heat this house warmer it still costs me a pretty penny...but what doesn't in NY State.

    md
  19. nate379

    nate379 Guest

    Last year I paid $1600 for natural gas.

    This year with wood stove should be around $500. (hot water and kitchen stove)

    Wood cost me $600 so I save $700... and also main reason for stove is if we have an earthquake, ice storm, etc I will still have heat. Don't need to depend on electricity or nat gas.

    The one guy in this thread that says it was $5000 to heat his place, holy hell! Either you have a Mc Mansion or no insulation!
  20. weatherguy

    weatherguy Minister of Fire

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    Central Mass
    I cut 500 gallons of oil off my bill last year so that cost minus the 3 cords of wood is what I saved, not a lot but I was warm every day and that wasnt the case when I just used the hot air oil furnace, so its worth it to me even at a lower savings than I had hoped, though last year was my first year and I know Im a more efficient burner this year so Ill recalculate after the year is done.
  21. ecocavalier02

    ecocavalier02 Minister of Fire

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    ct
    spent 498 bucks in oil in 2010 . also had a point last year that had no stove going for a month and a half. i figure with my old windows and probably not the best insulation im saving prob close to 1200 to 1500 bucks a year in oil. and i guarentee that in 2008 when oil was 4 sumtin a gallon we saved a lot more. i believe our repay will come in the next year or to. and probably sooner as i will be selling wood now and get some repay on that. i think if you enjoy doing the work and love burning then its a payback in the satisfaction. I LOVE DOING THIS. so its all the more reason to do it.
  22. iceman

    iceman Minister of Fire

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    Around my way they put in the paper all of the fuel prices and compare the price to last year at the same time...
    Wood is 175-225 a cord and the price of ng is close enough per btu ( that's how they break it down) that at that wood price ng is about the same price for a million btus or 20 bucks more .. its close enough so that if you buy wood you would be better off using ng...
    If I had a ng furnace I would still burn wood but I def wouldn't cringe like I do now to turn on the furnace... and I def wouldn't be such a slave to my stove.. I get my wood for less than 175 ... so it is much cheaper for me to burn wood vs gas and oil ... but my oil furnace is still young and strong as well as efficient (88%) so I can't justify taking it out for a gas furnace at 3gs + if the day comes I can't burn wood then I will switch...
  23. Kenster

    Kenster Minister of Fire

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    I can't imagine why in the world anyone would want to heat their house up into the high 80s! We would be miserable, for one thing. We pray for winter to get OUT of heat like that. And the cost to heat that house to those temps? Mercy. It would be easier and a lot cheaper to just put on a sweater and use a blanket. Even if you scrounge like me and never buy wood, you still have a lot of time and labor and some expense to bring in and process wood. Just seems like a big waste on many levels. But that's just me.
  24. GatorDL55

    GatorDL55 Member

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    Loc:
    Broadview Hts, OH
    Pennsylvania (where I'm originally from) is to natural gas as the middle east is to crude oil. There's a sh1t load of it.
  25. pugetsoundwa

    pugetsoundwa New Member

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    Loc:
    washington state
    I wonder if i'll save any money, this being my first yr ever using a wood stove. We bought and am waiting for stove to be installed. Didn't buy to save money but because we already had 1 power loss this yr. Luckily the temps were still good outside and the house only dipped to 65 degrees. 1 week later though and outside was only 27 degrees. We know this yrs winter is going to be a bad one and never want to be without heat. not rich but can pay our bills easily so saving money of wood heat isn't a big deal but would be nice bonus.
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