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Wood Pellets vs. natural gas furance

Post in 'The Pellet Mill - Pellet and Multifuel Stoves' started by Mike49024, Jan 12, 2011.

  1. Mike49024

    Mike49024 Member

    Joined:
    Nov 6, 2010
    Messages:
    35
    Loc:
    SW Michigan
    So bummed...

    I put in my pellet stove insert last month (p35i) in my raised ranch home (1700sq ft heating floor) hoping to drop my natural gas heating costs.

    On weekdays I run it when I get home from work til I go to bed 4pm-midnight and from 9am to midnight on the weekends. When the stove runs, the furnace does not.

    I went though about a half ton over the last month (approx $100)

    Got my Consumers (Electricity and natural gas) bill for the last month. $244 (14.2MCF). Down from 295 (18.6MCF) this month last year. So it dropped $50, but I burned $100 in pellets.

    Granted the living area is much warmer with the zoned heating, but the rest of the house is colder (bedrooms and for sure the basement).

    Not to mention the cost of the stove. I like my stove, but what a disappointment.

    :down:

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  2. SmokeyTheBear

    SmokeyTheBear Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Nov 10, 2008
    Messages:
    12,121
    Loc:
    Standish, ME
    Natural gas is usually one of the least expensive means of heating a house.

    A little upfront homework should have at least shown you that.

    I can't get natural gas here and likely it will never be available here.

    Propane is worse than oil here so that is out. Oil is definitely worse than pellets. I've already done the coal thing once too much ash to get rid of, and don't care for the wood handling which I've also done in the past. Don't even want to think about electric heat. Maybe a water loop heat pump would work, but getting a decent coil in the ground or in wells isn't cheap and not likely to repay its cost for us.
  3. Delta-T

    Delta-T Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Feb 27, 2008
    Messages:
    3,095
    Loc:
    NH
    BTU for BTU, I'm pretty sure NG is less expensive than pellets...so I'm not that surprised that you didn't save any $$, that being said, stoves are still nice. Its certainly more enjoyable than sitting around the furnace enjoying the.....fire? Bide your time. I'm sure in the near future there will be a jump in NG prices and then you'll be ahead of the curve.
  4. Mike49024

    Mike49024 Member

    Joined:
    Nov 6, 2010
    Messages:
    35
    Loc:
    SW Michigan
    Going in, I did know that NG was a "cheap" heat source. However, I thought zone heating would result in some good savings.

    And agreed, the stove is a nice feature to the home. And yep, we'll just have to wait and see what happens with the cost of natural gas vs pellets in the future..

    The one thing I am hoping for as far as heating cost, is that I did not have my OAK installed until last weekend. So hopefully that will help out with the overall efficiency of the house.
  5. Elatu

    Elatu New Member

    Joined:
    Nov 17, 2010
    Messages:
    8
    Loc:
    Southern Ontario
    It was costing me $800 every 6 weeks for propane. It costs me about $5 per day to heat my house now with pellets.
    Natural Gas may be the "cheap" alternative, but I cannot get it where I live. After looking at this link, it may have you think twice about using it or supporting the companies that are providing it.
    Lots if links below about the documentary Gasland:

    http://www.google.ca/search?client=...&resnum=2&ved=0CDQQqwQwAQ&fp=34709b7ff5185978
  6. dsnedegar3

    dsnedegar3 Member

    Joined:
    Jul 4, 2008
    Messages:
    134
    Loc:
    Southern Connecticut
    Let us know how the OAK works out for you.
  7. Fsappo

    Fsappo Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Apr 9, 2008
    Messages:
    3,595
    Loc:
    Central NY
    If a customer ever asks me about pellets, one of my first questions is "what do you heat with currently?" If they say Natural Gas, I give them a full education including a cost per btu breakdown before selling the pellet appliance. If they want to still go ahead out of the "green" factor, or whatever..sure. But at least I know they made an educated decision. If you or anyone else wants to use a very unbiased heat calculator, shoot me an email and I'll send you the spread sheet.

    It sounds like you didnt get great advice from the Hearth proffesional that you bought your pellet heater from.

    Would have been better off and just as comfy zone heating with a good direct vent gas stove.
  8. tjnamtiw

    tjnamtiw Minister of Fire

    Joined:
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    Messages:
    3,774
    Loc:
    North Georgia
    As others have said, NG is about as cheap as you can get except for coal. You really should have used one of the many fuel cost comparison charts that are linked to many times on this site.
  9. Turbo-Quad

    Turbo-Quad New Member

    Joined:
    Feb 3, 2010
    Messages:
    353
    Loc:
    Illinois
    My mom heats about the same space as me with natural gas and she spends $350 a month. I'm spening about $220. Her house is insulated and mine isn't. I live out in the country and had propane so for me it was a no brainer. Gas must be cheaper up there.
  10. ChrisWNY

    ChrisWNY Feeling the Heat

    Joined:
    Dec 16, 2010
    Messages:
    273
    Loc:
    Western NY
    Yeah, I *wish* I had the natural gas option, I heat from Propane and at $2.50 per gallon (not including delivery charges) it's really expensive to rely on LP gas for heat. A ton of pellets in my area goes for about $180; 1 ton of pellets is roughly equivalent to 180 gallons of propane, so $450 for equivalent BTU's for LP gas. The choice was clear in my case, either spend $350-$400 PER month for propane to heat my house, or invest in a pellet burner where a ton of pellets might last me 2-3 months (we only run our pellet furnace 4-5 hours per day on week days, and 6-7 hours on weekends, we burn through 4 bags or so of pellets per week, so a ton should last us 2 months in theory). We have our pellet furnace ducted directly to our great room, where we are 90% of the time in our house, and with an open floor plan, the kitchen and den get more than enough heat. Also, the upstairs heats up real nicely. On LP, we couldn't come close to heating our house to the temps we heat to with pellets.

    However, I do have friends and coworkers who heat with NG that pay $200 per month 12 months per year on balanced billing. Pellets are still cheaper than NG, but the cost difference isn't as significant as other types of heating fuels (oil and LP).
  11. chris288

    chris288 New Member

    Joined:
    Nov 1, 2010
    Messages:
    168
    Loc:
    ny
    In my area, coal is no bargain, my dad heats his entire house with it and he's paying more / ton of coal than I am for pellets. I think it's 260.00 / ton..
  12. j00fek

    j00fek Feeling the Heat

    Joined:
    Jun 9, 2008
    Messages:
    468
    Loc:
    Auburn, Maine
    nat gas >* if i could heat with it i would, cheaper than oil and the united states+canada has ALOT newly discovered.
  13. SmokeyTheBear

    SmokeyTheBear Minister of Fire

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    Loc:
    Standish, ME
    There are a lot more BTUs in a ton of coal versus a ton of wood pellets.
  14. chris288

    chris288 New Member

    Joined:
    Nov 1, 2010
    Messages:
    168
    Loc:
    ny
    True, there are about 30,000,000 BTu's / ton of coal compared to about 17,000,000 BTu's / ton of wood pellets, but a ton of coal also costs about 1/3 more than pellets, so the difference isn't all that much, as the OP makes it sound. Back when coal was 40-50.00 / ton and pellets were 100.00 / ton, there was more savings to be had.
  15. tjnamtiw

    tjnamtiw Minister of Fire

    Joined:
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    North Georgia
    If you haul your own pellets, then you are equipped to haul your own coal. Coal right now from the small independents in Tamaqua, Pa is at $170 a ton. My brother in law heats with their rice coal in a stoker. So with your btu's, coal is about 1/2 as expensive per btu than wood pellets. You just are looking at the right places for coal. You have to buy bulk and not bags of coal. You should NOT be paying $300 a ton!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
  16. tjnamtiw

    tjnamtiw Minister of Fire

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    3,774
    Loc:
    North Georgia
    Yea but, Turbo, if she's like my mother-in-law (I hope not, for your sake :lol: ) she keeps the house at 78..........

    Coal IS cheaper IF you live close enough to haul it yourself from a breaker.
  17. Vinelife

    Vinelife Feeling the Heat

    Joined:
    May 31, 2010
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    Loc:
    Northern Michigan
    Use the stove 24/7 then you wont have much of a ng bill.
  18. tjnamtiw

    tjnamtiw Minister of Fire

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    Messages:
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    North Georgia
    $260 a ton was what we were all paying for pellets last year don't forget so last year your dad was getting twice the btu's for the same price! Who knows about next year with the way the EPA is screwing things up!
  19. dragracer300

    dragracer300 Member

    Joined:
    Nov 20, 2010
    Messages:
    104
    Loc:
    Ohio
    In my case i have natural gas. Last year with gas i spent 250 in the month of december and close to 500 a month for jan and feb. With pellets i have spent 175 for december and january looks to be about the same. But i do have a old drafty house with a older not so efficient furnace. With the furnace i set the t-stat at 66 and the pellet t-stat is at 70. I do have cold spots but at this time pellets are cheaper for me. If i upgrade my furnace and continue to insulate and replace windows gas may be cheaper i was just loosing to much up the vent pipe.
  20. poconoman

    poconoman Member

    Joined:
    Nov 22, 2009
    Messages:
    230
    Loc:
    Pocono Lake, PA
    What MOST people fail to realize is that a pellet stove is a SPACE heater and NOT a whole house heater. That's what FURNACES do. I have a coal hot air furnace and THAT'S what keeps my whole house warm. When it's in the 40's, then the stove will do fine. Below that, it's the coal. BUT, I love the PC45 though.
  21. SmokeyTheBear

    SmokeyTheBear Minister of Fire

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    Standish, ME

    But, but poconoman as one of the mod's sig says I know that the stove is a space heater, the space I want to heat is my house.
  22. wingman1776

    wingman1776 New Member

    Joined:
    Dec 19, 2010
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    70
    Loc:
    central illinois
    I know my stove is spce heater but it heats my entire ranch house. ng to pellets right now are about the same price here but my furnce uses 650 watts of eletricity and runs about 4 times an hour. My stove used less then 100 watts runs 24/7 so I know i am saving a few bux on the juice plus my house is warmer now then when i was using the gas cause i kept it turned down to keep cost down and I would rather give my money to any one but the power company
  23. JoeS

    JoeS Feeling the Heat

    Joined:
    Jan 25, 2008
    Messages:
    479
    Loc:
    Maryland
    When I first moved into my present home we had propane. I figured that was all that was available, why else would it be here. After my first heating season and propane bills of 550.00/month and more I said to the wife we need to figure out another way. We ended up purchasing a Mt. Vernon AE pellet stove. The first winter with the stove we burned about 5 tons and used less than 100 gallons of propane. I thought I was a genius. The next summer a cable company was updating the lines and they were digging holes for the new fiber optics. They had flags everywhere marking phone lines and electric lines. I was cutting the lawn one day and as I got to the end of the yard where they were digging I noticed a yellow flag. I couldn't believe it. A yellow flag denotes natural gas. I had natural gas running right in front of the house! We live on a 3 acre parcel and I only have 3 neighbors. I asked them if they knew there was NG at the end of the property and their response was yes, it has been here for a few years. I asked why they never switched over! Their response, why is it cheaper? Well to make a long story short I had our local gas company hook us up and had all the furnaces and appliances switched over to NG. I almost had the stove pulled to put a NG stove in but I just couldn't do it. I know NG is half the price of propane and I also know that NG is cheaper than running the pellet stove but there is something about the pellet stove that won't let me get rid of it. I will probably burn about 3 tons or so this year and supplement with NG even though it would probably be cheaper just to run the NG furnaces. Maybe one day (I actually hope this doesn't happen) pellets will be less expensive than NG and I will look like a genius again for getting this stove.
  24. Vinelife

    Vinelife Feeling the Heat

    Joined:
    May 31, 2010
    Messages:
    493
    Loc:
    Northern Michigan
    I heat my whole house with my Sante Fe.....no problem.....
  25. Snowy Rivers

    Snowy Rivers Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Feb 7, 2010
    Messages:
    1,418
    Loc:
    NW Oregon
    I live in an area that does not have natural gas available, and where it is, its spendy $$$$

    The choices are Propane, electricity or oil.

    The result was the installation of more than one pellet stove and using renewable bio fuel in the stoves.

    2 stoves to heat 2400 feet and the cost is about 80 cents a day per stove.

    Probably about 50 bucks a month for the two stoves, and the only time we use both stoves is during really cold weather.

    Many times, one pellet stove will not do a great job at heating a large house.

    The issue is the amount of air that has to be heated and if the house is cut up with a lot of small rooms, it tough to get the heat to move through all the rooms.

    Smaller stoves and More Of Them is the answer.

    I bought two used stoves at $200 each and these have almost paid for themselves already at todays stove prices.

    Just some ramblings

    Snowy

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