Do you save money heating with wood?

WiscWoody

Minister of Fire
Dec 24, 2011
1,944
Winter WI
So... I’ve been thinking on why I heat with wood, is it for the money saved and if I really do save at all or is it for the ambience of the soothing fire? I thought about the thousands I’ve spent on three pro saws that all have been wood ported and the big wood splitter, numerous racks, the not so fancy Drolet stove and the stove and chimney pipes, and soon the $3000 30X24 car port I’ll build to keep my wood stores dry. Plus all kinds of wood handling tools and can as tarps to cover the wood. Up here propane is cheap, the summer fill price has been under a buck since the winter of the big LP shortage (when I did save a bunch by burning wood) and just a bit more during the winter months. Even though most of my wood has been scrounged in our vast hardwood forests here I still think I would have spent less if I just set the thermostat on the drafty furnace and just heated the place like I did for decades when I lived in the suburbs of St Paul Minnesota. One thing I thought of though was the saws and the splitter and all are tangible things I can have and take care of instead of just paying the LP co for gas that I’ll get nothing but boring heat from. I’m sure you get what I’m saying, chime in with your thoughts. cheers! :)
 
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ABMax24

Minister of Fire
I like the ambiance and feel of wood heat. It's also a justification to get outside and do something in the winter.

Natural gas is super cheap here, but I still save enough on the gas bill to pay for fuel in the truck and saw, chains, bar oil and the added wear and tear on the truck. But the stove, chimney, splitter, and wood shed are all just extra expense. Maybe I'd get a few bucks more for the house if I sold it but that's it. I like the feeling of independence it gives me though, I like having 2.5 months of heat being stored in the wood shed beside the house.

I like getting firewood, gives me an excuse to go and explore new areas.
 
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gggvan

Member
Dec 6, 2012
99
an oil fill up here is ~450 an average. some folks go through 5/6 per year. we normally use 2 per year by supplementing . its adds up over the years. i think the biggest benefit is the down to the bone feel a local heat source gives you.
 

Sawset

Minister of Fire
Feb 14, 2015
1,069
Palmyra, WI
A lot of hobbies are expensive. This is a hobby with dollar payback. A good position to be in.
I could say I'm saving a bunch of money, if I excluded the expenses (all of them) time and labor.
If I didn't enjoy working to scout the woods cut load split stack move store move again work the stove clean the stove, then I could just bump the stat and move on. Far easier that way. I like (and need) the labor, beats going to the gym and staring at a wall. Pick an adventure and run with it, if you're the adventurous type. I've gotten myself setup for many things over the years, from mountaineering, boat, bike, ski, woodworking, gardens, scuba, pilot, -- , wood. They're all expensive, with a payback in some way or another.
 

firefighterjake

Minister of Fire
Jul 22, 2008
19,222
Unity/Bangor, Maine
Yes . . . without a doubt.

No cheap natural gas.
Propane here in Maine is rather expensive.
Oil isn't like it was in the old days when it was below $1 a gallon.

I honestly did OK with just burning heating oil in my mid-1970s half decently insulated home by burning around 600 gallons of heating oil a year -- better than many folks who go through as much as 3 times that amount in their drafty farmhouses . . . but I still figure my wood stove has paid for itself.

Chainsaw: Started out with one my wife bought for me as a gift many years earlier for working around the house. I eventually replaced it with my current Jonsered. Truthfully, as a homeowner in a rural area I would own at least one chainsaw -- maybe not this size, but I would still own a saw . . . and I have resisted the urge to buy multiple saws. One is enough for me.

ATV and cart: Again . . . I've always had an ATV and cart . . . which I use for work around the house and trail riding. I would have this regardless of whether I was burning wood or not.

Wood: I have never paid a single dollar for any of my wood (unless you count the cost of gas and oil which I would say is rather small). I get most of my wood by scrounging or by cutting off a friend with a wood lot on the rare occasion.

Splitter: I guess this really is the only real expense related to burning wood (well that and the woodstove/chimney. For the money I have saved, the heat I get in the winter and most importantly to me the realization that in a power outage I will still keep the house warm the cost of the splitter is a small price for me to pay.

Woodshed: This may or may not be an additional expense. While I did purchase some wood and materials, a lot of the wood I used was repurposed from an old camp I lived in . . . and I suspect by now if I was not using this as a woodshed it would be housing my snowmobile, ATV or other stuff.

I think in terms of whether burning wood saves one money or not depends on a) the length of their burning season, b) other available heating options and c) if they can resist the urge to keep buying more "toys."
 
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Gearhead660

Feeling the Heat
Dec 20, 2018
461
Southern WI
For me, yes, all the above. I have a big ol farm house, not efficient. All the tools i have are used for more than just wood processing, except for the splitter which could have been depreciated completely by now. Wood sheds were made with free materials. I would consider wood burning a hobby, with a toasty payback. Nothing beats the feel of wood heat....
 
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peakbagger

Minister of Fire
Jul 11, 2008
5,633
Northern NH
With the price of heating oil currently, I expect its an expensive hobby. ;)

I need to thin out my wood lot, I either leave it on the ground or use it for heat.
 

blades

Minister of Fire
Nov 23, 2008
3,538
WI, Leroy
1st winter in this house, ran me $1600 in propane. All the windows had collapsed panes ( Inner and outer panes touching each other) might just have as well left the windows wide open. 2nd winter all new glass inserts in windows and added wood stove, cut propane usage to less than one 1/4 of that first winter. Stove and flue assembly will be paid for at end of this season. 2 more winters to break even on windows. That is a little over $7000 in savings spread over 4 years. Saws and splitter long since paid for by savings, and of course the windows also cut the electric bills in 1/2+during the summer months . Only other thing I can change that will have a tangible effect is the water heater which currently is a standing pilot type and 20+ years old.
 

Sawset

Minister of Fire
Feb 14, 2015
1,069
Palmyra, WI
All the tools i have are used for more than just wood processing, except for the splitter which could have been depreciated completely by now.
With the price of heating oil currently, I expect its an expensive hobby.
I need to thin out my wood lot, I either leave it on the ground or use it for heat.
Stove, chimney, saw, splitter, misc chaps wedges etc, fuel oil, labor, transportation to move it all.
If all that were taken away, and then replaced, how much to replace it. At that point, dual purpose doesn't mean it's free.
Actually it doesn't matter all that much. Burning with wood is such a positive past time, there's no need to justify any of it. It's a great feeling to be able to get along in the world with your two hands, stuff you've got laying around, a few specific tools, and some strategic planning to make it all happen. And to leave the LP in the tank makes it all the more worthwhile.
 

Grizzerbear

Minister of Fire
Feb 12, 2019
700
SW Missoura
I like the security of it and it's a lifestyle I guess. I get a great sense of satisfaction out of supplying my home with its heating needs and not relying on the grid for it.......one link of the chain broken. As far as monetarily speaking I save probably 50 bucks a month burning wood instead of using heat pump.....not much.....but when an ice storm comes through and tears down electric lines that's when burning wood pays dividends. I agree with sawset though...there isn't any need to justify it. I just like the whole process.
 

WiscWoody

Minister of Fire
Dec 24, 2011
1,944
Winter WI
I think in terms of whether burning wood saves one money or not depends on a) the length of their burning season, b) other available heating options and c) if they can resist the urge to keep buying more "toys."
Our winters are long up here As they are in Maine so that helps to recoup some of my chainsaw binge I was on. That was my big expense, four saws of which three were fairly expensive. Good for you Jake to stick to one saw. Sometimes I blame my=y splurges on my ADHD fueled compulsive buying Lol.
 
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Feb 2, 2020
154
Madison, WI
Eric's video sums this up better than I could:


I don't know if I will ever recover my investment in all the wood cutting stuff I've bought over the years but even if I never do, to me, the fact that I'll never have to worry about being cold in the winter is 100% worth it, hands down. I did save few hundred on my winter heating bill this past winter since the furnace turned on less than a dozen times so I know that I am saving money at least on utilities. It seems odd to enjoy doing so much physical labor every month but I enjoy it, even if the neighbors think I'm nuts!
 

Riff

Burning Hunk
Nov 3, 2015
110
Virginia
First house, yup we were running ahead and would have paid off the equipment purchased compared to the cost of heating with oil. Plus that place was rural enough that one had to be ready to go without power for days on end.

This house, can't say I care that much one way or the other. We're in a better financial situation so I'm not into counting the dollars. But that little cold snap we had this spring just after we moved in showed us how much we really missed having a fire (it's been almost 3 years). But we enjoy the process like everyone else. I do volunteer work as a sawyer so it's nice to keep up with handling a saw regularly. And looking out the back window at the stacks of wood drying is rather satisfying.
 

NickW

Feeling the Heat
Oct 16, 2019
273
SE WI
I absolutely save big $! The house was built in 1978 with electric baseboard heat...2400sqft. With the old smoke dragon going the electric bill was $310 one cold December. The next year we did some remodeling during a warm December and couldn't run the stove. Electric bill was almost $450! That was before the last 2 or 3 rate increases. Now, 10 years later, with the new EPA stove I'll save even more. After the install in January the electric baseboard kicked in once on a super cold windy morning and one weekend we were gone... THAT'S IT!!!

February 2019 we installed solar panels which has cut our summer electric bills to about 1/3 of what they used to be ($160-$210 down to $50-$70) with running the ac more. With the smoke dragon December and January were $310-$350. I bet between the new stove and a little help from the solar panels we won't hit $200... Without either I bet it'd be $500-$600. And that's with thermostats set at 64. That EPA stove keeps the lower level rec room where the stove is at 74-78, upstairs living room at 70-72 and the bedrooms at 66-68.

There is nothing worse than the wife's cold toes and butt against you in bed. NO MORE!!!
 

WiscWoody

Minister of Fire
Dec 24, 2011
1,944
Winter WI
All the equipment I buy still has value and can be sold at anytime to re-coup probably close to 2/3rd's of what I paid for it.

Sending that monthly payment to the LP company....that's money which is lost forever.
I agree, like I said in the post I’d rather have something that‘s mine that I use to heat my house that I bought from the money I’ve saved by burning wood.
 
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Gearhead660

Feeling the Heat
Dec 20, 2018
461
Southern WI
Filled the LP tank last year before heating season. Just went out and checked it, still half full. Heat and DHW using it. Before heating with wood, it would need to be filled every 6 weeks or so during the coldest months. Definite savings, but I'm not going to try to figure out how much.
 

Sawset

Minister of Fire
Feb 14, 2015
1,069
Palmyra, WI
When the place was first built here, we had a 500gallon tank put in like everyone else around. Two years later, after the wood stove was in, they came back and said I wasn't using it enough, and needed to change it out for a reduced size. 100gallon tank now, filled 75% twice a year, for hot water and a few hours of furnace time. Electric bill is around $50/mo, with 20% of that line charges, not kw charges. During the 2013 sub zero weather, the old farm house back home was consuming a 500gal tank every 2-3wks, and the electric bill shot up from all the blower motor time. It is nice to be disengaged from all that. Wood is cheaper than LP, even if paying cordwood purchase prices. It just takes labor to feed the stove at that point.
 

WiscWoody

Minister of Fire
Dec 24, 2011
1,944
Winter WI
I used to lease a 500g tank for a dollar a year when I heated exclusively with LP but they wanted to Jack that up to $80 a year when I started to heat with wood and didn’t use enough propane for the Cheap lease any more so as soon as I got the letter saying so I called them and bought the tank. it’s better that way anyways so I can shop around for a better price but they are all generally at The same price within a dime a gallon. Tank owners also pay 5 cents less a gallon.
 
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Sawset

Minister of Fire
Feb 14, 2015
1,069
Palmyra, WI
I used to lease a 500g tank for a dollar a year when I heated exclusively with LP but they wanted to Jack that up to $80 a year when I started to heat with wood and didn’t use enough propane for the Cheap lease any more so as soon as I got the letter saying so I called them and bought the tank. it’s better that way anyways so I can shop around for a better price but they are all generally at The same price within a dime a gallo. Tank owners also pay 5 cents less a gallon.
How much to buy the tank?
 

EatenByLimestone

Minister of Fire
Jul 12, 2006
7,378
Schenectady, NY
At the house, no. Natural gas is very cheap.


At the cabin, yes. It's just propane in 100lb tanks, electricity, or wood.
 
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