Does heating with wood really save money??

Swedishchef Posted By Swedishchef, Oct 8, 2012 at 2:17 PM

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  1. Swedishchef

    Minister of Fire 2.

    Jan 17, 2010
    Inuvik, Northwest Territories
    Hey guys

    I understand that I have already asked this question in other posts in the past. However time flies by and I find that various aspects change with time when considering the cost of heating with wood.

    In my case I heat my home with a bit of wood (on top of electricity). It takes a long time to stack my wood, season it, move it to the shed, etc etc.

    I currently live in a 3 year old house. THe basement was spray foamed on the walls and in the rim joists (crown) and I added R14 Roxul on top of that.

    My stove is in the basement and I paid $1500 for my chimney (installed) and $2200 for my stove. Wood around here is $250 a cord for hardwood and $175 for softwood (I do not have a woodlot nor do I have a splitter or the heavy equipment such as a tractor / ATV requipred to pull wood) and I normally burn 3+ cords per winter (1.5 or so of hardwood and 1.5 or so of softwood). My sweep gave me a quote of $150 for a cleaning (I can't reach my chimney with a ladder however I do plan on getting a sooteater this year). Therefore, I will NEVER get my money back for the stove and chimney.

    Since my electricity costs are only $0.052/Kwh, I have compared the cost of oil VS wood VS electricity in my area with a cost comparison calculator

    36.26 per Million BTU of Heat delivered to home
    $3,444.70 per year for normal home for Oil
    $14.29 per Million BTU of Heat delivered to home
    $1,357.55 per year for normal home for Hardwood
    $15.50 per Million BTU of Heat delivered to home
    $1,472.50 per year for normal home for Softwood
    $15.24 per Million BTU of Heat delivered to home
    $1,447.80 per year for normal home for Electric

    Another cost calculator says pretty much the same thing: the cost is the same for electricity or wood.

    What about you guys?


  2. BrowningBAR

    Minister of Fire 2.

    Jul 22, 2008
    Doylestown, PA
    I burn 8 cord a year. All of it is bought. Runs me about $1,000 for the year as I buy my wood in bulk and get a nice discount by ordering 10 cord at a time.

    Burning oil would run me about $6,000 this winter.

    Not sure about electricity, but I am at about $0.16/Kwh.
  3. BobUrban

    Minister of Fire 2.

    Jul 24, 2010
    Central Michigan
    Kind of like asking if venison is saving you money over beef??? In my opinion, Yes. But that is because I do 90% or more of the labor myself in both making bows and arrows and procuring the wood I burn and I enjoy both on a level as compared to just having fun. Most costly part was the chimney install because I did not want to tackle that myself with insurance as my biggest factor in the equasion. Stove was 650.00 delivered to my door. Bricks, morter and tools maybe another 250.00. Fireplace tools and stand I made and labor is free if you enjoy it.

    Now add the saw, quad, splitter, fuel for all of the above and how much is used for hauling deer or wood???? I just know there is so much satisfaction in a really warm home and not paying 5-700$ 3 or so times a year for propane and wearing a hoodie all the time.

    Doing the math on the pieces and parts of my stove install and procuring tools I believe after 2 seasons I am making money and enjoying all of it. JMO
    Backwoods Savage likes this.
  4. Wood Duck

    Wood Duck
    Minister of Fire 2.

    Feb 26, 2009
    Central PA
    Your electricity is cheap, and with cheap electric and wood you have to buy, then I am not surprised that electric is cheaper than wood. Those of us who actually save money by burning wood probably have more expensive electricity and/or do not buy wood.

    At some point in the past I determined that I save about $200 to $300 by burning about a cord of wood each month in the winter. In other words, electric heat and wood heat are similar in cost if I had to buy wood.
    Jack768 likes this.
  5. ColdNH

    Minister of Fire 2.

    Oct 14, 2009
    Bow, NH
    at 3.60 a gallon for fuel oil you bet you azz im saving money burning wood. Even if I was buying it @ 300$ a cord I would be saving almost half, and fortunatly I scroung 90% of the wood I burn.

    electric is almost as bad as oil up here and natural gas only exists in very few locations.

    $32.97 per Million BTU of Heat delivered to home
    $3,132.15 per year for normal home for Oil
    $17.14 per Million BTU of Heat delivered to home
    $1,628.30 per year for normal home for Hardwood
    firebroad and dylskee like this.
  6. mfglickman

    Minister of Fire 2.

    Jan 17, 2012
    NW CT
    Wow. How is your electricity so cheap? It happens I was just looking at switching my electrical provider....Connecticut Light & Power (current provider) is at $0.0828 per kWh, North American Power is at $0.0699 per.
  7. Todd

    Minister of Fire 2.

    Nov 19, 2005
    Lake Wissota
    I think I do save a little money heating with wood verses paying for NG but if I had to pay for all of my firewood and not scrounge free wood it would be a wash. NG is currently pretty cheap around here. I think the guys that save the most with wood heat are the guys that have oil and propane heat.

    If I figure in all the costs of new stoves, rebuilt chimney, liners and all those other wood burner doodads I'm losing money but I like the wood heat feel better than a forced air furnace and if I didn't spend all that money on wood burning stuff I'd probably spend it on something else.
  8. dafattkidd

    Minister of Fire 2.

    Dec 11, 2007
    Long Island
    I've been burning wood for just about three years (this will be my fourth winter). I did the math and I think I have saved about $7000 in oil. I think I have spent like $3200 or so on the stove and wood, so I'm up about $3800 or so. Wood burning has been such a blessing to our family. Our house is so much warmer and we've reduced our heating bills significantly.
    RIJEEP and milleo like this.
  9. bogydave

    Minister of Fire 2.

    Dec 4, 2009
    So Cent ALASKA
    I save some on energy bills
    I save some on gym memberships
    I save some on doctor bills.
    I save some on psychiatrist bills
    so far my wood is not taxed (even some more saved)

    All added up, I save some $$ & have fun doing it ;)
    Sisu, PA Fire Bug, RORY12553 and 6 others like this.
  10. Seasoned Oak

    Seasoned Oak
    Minister of Fire 2.

    Oct 17, 2008
    Eastern Central PA
    Dd you do these calculations BEFORE you installed a wood stove ? If so why did you did you do it? You are in an unusual situation where your electric is 200-300% cheaper than most of us Wood Burners and you are buying your wood,i never bought any wood probably never will. Most of us save a bundle as we dont buy wood and our alternatives fuels are much higher than ZERO.
  11. chipsoflyin

    Member 2.

    Dec 11, 2008
    nw ohio
    Let's see, 1100 for the,splitter, couple of hundred a year for my chainsaw addiction, already own the truck, 2200 for the golf cart to haul the wood, 2400 for the stove last year,a few hundred for scrounging gas, 100 for sooteaters, 250 for ash vac, 250 for hearth upgrade, 2000 for a chipper I'm looking at. I would have to say no, but I wouldn't change it for the world. Nothing like wood heat.
    CatieG and ColdNH like this.
  12. BrotherBart

    BrotherBart LLC Mid-Atlantic Division 2.
    Staff Member

    Nov 18, 2005
    Northern Virginia
    In thirty years of heating with wood I have never considered that it saved me one dime.
    CatieG, FireBones, MasterMech and 2 others like this.
  13. theonlyzarathu

    Member 2.

    Dec 17, 2011
    Bar Harbor, Maine
    Before my renters left they used two propane stoves. Their heating bill exceeded $4000 a year. I use about 4 cords that are split and cut for me and dumped. I just stack them.

    I save about $2000 from what it would cvost to heat with electric or propane. But there's more than that. During the time I moved in, there was a time when I had to buy propane and heat with that. The house was constantly freezing unless the propane was on. In about 3 weeks I used $250 of propane, basically 1/4 of my whole supply of wood. But I WAS TOASTY WARM. WOOD HEAT IS WARM STEADY HEAT. Oil burners have to run continuously to give the same quality of heat that a wood stove does.

    I've been heating with wood for almost 35 years. During that time I've had the alternatives of propane, oil, and electric, in drafty houses, and in super insulated very tight houses. Wood heat has always been way way better.
    milleo likes this.
  14. rkshed

    Feeling the Heat 2.

    Jan 15, 2012
    Absolutely saving money!
    I figure since I started burning last October, my total investment has been about $350 to $400. That includes buying the old stove, some flex liner, saw chains and the fuel to get the scrounge. May even include the used Jred 2150 I recently picked up.
    My goal was to see if it was possible to heat solely with wood last winter and to spend as little as possible doing so. I used only about 15-20 gallons of oil and the house was the warmest it has been in the 20+ years we've been here.
    7+ cords in the yard, all free.
  15. rideau

    Minister of Fire 2.

    Jan 12, 2012
    southern ontario
    Wait a minute! I'm in Ontario, and we are paying way more than that for electricity. Does that 5 cents per KWH include all charges? Hydroone has debt retirement surcharge, delivery charge, 10 % added to KWH used to compensate for power lost in transmission, etc., plus all that has a 13 % harmonized sales tax added to that. Besides which, even our off peak basic rate, before even multiplying by 1.1 (to compensate for lost power in transmission) is 60% higher than your stated electricity cost....

    I save a great deal heating by wood instead of electricity. Bought a PH from Woodstock last year, used existing chimney/stovepipe, so just had install cost and purchase cost, Fed sales tax at the border. Way before the end of the 2013-2014 heating season the stove will be paid for, possibly even by the end of this year. Rates have gone up so much since I started heating with wood that I would have to go back to check KWH used 8 years ago to heat, then multiply by todays add tax....

    Additionally, with the wood stove we are not dependant on hydroone. During the 90s ice storm
    people in my area without wood heat or generators had to move out of their homes for 28 days...
    We always loose power for some period of time a few times a year because of trees falling and taking out the lines. Don;t have to worry about heat, cooking, freezing pipes, which is a saving from Wood Stove that doesn't necessarily jump put at you, but can be great peace of mind,
    plus ambiance and comfort of radiant wood heat....

    For me, there is no question, I save thousands a year....I own my own wood lot and don't pay for wood. Split with wedge and sledge. Don't have much expense. Exercise is good for me, being outdoors is good for me.
    Seanm, FireBones and milleo like this.
  16. Swedishchef

    Minister of Fire 2.

    Jan 17, 2010
    Inuvik, Northwest Territories
    I understand that most people heat with wood because normally they have oil furnaces. Oil is not cheap, especially in the last 10 years.

    Quebec has some of the cheapest electricity in North America. We are very fortunate. The province sells lots of it to the US and other provinces and we get the rebate.

    The main reason I love heating with wood: the fun of it. In my case it has nothing to do with finances. But sometimes when I am trecking 3 cords of wood with a little wagon or a wheelbarrow, I sometimes question myself. LOL.

    The big thing is that it is an added value to my house. SInce the ice storm of the 90s, people like the peace of mind with a wood stove. Independant heat...

    My rate does not include delivery/service fees. Here's a copy paste of my last bill. Note that it is for 2 months and my hot water tank is 60 gallons.

    Billing date: August 21, 2012 / Facture du 21 août 2012
    For the period from 2012-06-19 to 2012-08-21 at Domestic Rate D for 64 day(s)
    Pour la période du 2012-06-19 au 2012-08-21 au tarif domestique D pour 64 jour(s)
    Fixed charge / Redevance d'abonnement
    (See definition on reverse. / Voir la définition au verso.)

    64 day(s) / jour(s) x 0,4064 $ 26,01 $
    Consumption / Consommation 1 890 kWh
    First 30 kWh per day / Les 30 premiers kWh par jour 1 890 kWh x 0,0532 $ 100,55 $
    Subtotal / Sous-total 126,56 $
    GST No. / N

    o TPS : 11944 9775 RT0001
    GST (5,0%) / TPS (5,0 %) 6,33 $
    QST No. / N

    o TVQ : 1000042605 TQ0020
    QST (9,5%) / TVQ (9,5 %) 12,62 $
    Amount due by September 11, 2012
    Montant à payer au plus tard le 11 septembre 2012 145,51 $
  17. corey21

    Minister of Fire 2.

    Oct 28, 2010
    Soutwest VA
    When i factor in the install of my system i would say no.

    Bit it is starting to pay for its self.
  18. Dustin

    Feeling the Heat 2.

    Sep 3, 2008
    Western Oregon
    I also have really cheap electricity, but, I live in an old, leaky, always in the shade cold house.

    If I run the base board heaters I'm looking at a cost of around 100-170 a month depending on how cold it gets.

    Here, I buy some and split some. I pay 100 bucks a cord for alder, and I burn about 6 or 7 months out of the year, or more.

    So, the install has paid for itself 4 years ago. 600 bucks for 6 cord is not a bad winter heating bill
  19. jeff_t

    Minister of Fire 2.

    Sep 14, 2008
    SE MI
    I have NG service across the road. All I would have to do is pay to have it hooked up. Don't know what the rates are like. Don't really care. LP would cost at least $3k. I have removed almost all of the electric baseboard heaters as carpet has been replaced. The rest were disconnected when I replaced the electrical panel a few years ago.

    I work hard enough, and surely don't do it for the execise. I can afford to pay for heat these days, but the money saved allows for more fun stuff, like dangerous toys to cut wood.

    The comfort of constant warmth,and the satisfaction of doing it myself, have no price.

    Not about money, here.
    Backwoods Savage likes this.
  20. ssupercoolss

    Member 2.

    Jan 28, 2008
    southeast pa
    Is that .052 canadian or american? not going to try to decipher that bill since i think i saw the word "litres" in it. anyways, i think you need to compare what you actually pay for electric....$$$/kwhrs. my rate for i guess generation is about .09, then the cost for transmissions, Delivery, taxes, and making it smell nice actually bring me up to about .15 cents. Last year was so mild here i barely used any of my wood burning appliances....used mostly heat pumps. i think my wood boiler paid for itself in a little over a year, but my wood is free.
  21. sebring

    Member 2.

    Oct 3, 2011
    Burning wood has allowed me to save enough for a vacation every year. Burning oil has allowed me to starve most of the year.
    firefighterjake likes this.
  22. njtomatoguy

    Feeling the Heat 2.

    Jun 20, 2006
    Maple Shade, NJ
    I got a really good deal on the stove because it was scratched,on the back, and the heat shield was bent a little. I bent it back out.
    The Chimney was the most expensive part. Self installed.
    Gathered and scrounged in Chevy aveo. Guys here got a kick out of that. Did that for a few years, Used furnace for backup
    until 2009.
    Bought a Chevy HHR and a 4x6 trailer. Scrounging/hauling got a whole lot easy. Have not turned on furnace since 2009, plenty of wood
    Just bought a 2012 GMC sierra pickup. Grabbed some wood recently on the way home from the library. It was a dream. No trailer,
    no rushing around to get back to it before someone else does, etc.
    So I have progressed.

    I think Bogydave said it best..
    Backwoods Savage likes this.
  23. madison

    Minister of Fire 2.

    Sep 12, 2008
    41.33°N 74.18°W and 44.67°N 111.0°W
    I would personally rather look and sit in front of a wood burning stove, than my home's base board radiators.

    Like Brother Bart , never bothered to compare the cost.
    Blue2ndaries, CatieG, RIJEEP and 3 others like this.
  24. Backwoods Savage

    Backwoods Savage
    Minister of Fire 2.

    Feb 14, 2007
    I often sort of wonder over the years just how many dollars we've saved by burning wood and I can say without a doubt that it is many thousands of dollars. BogyDave touched on a few points so let's see if I can touch on some just off the top of my head.

    Although we burned wood before having a family, we consider those years that our sons helped with the wood to be very profitable for growing boys! The work taught them much and we spent many hours together which is priceless.

    After our sons left we continued but one must remember that we love all parts of wood burning starting with felling the trees and bucking up the logs, splitting, stacking, etc. Although an injury forced us into buying a hydraulic splitter, previous to this my sons and I did all the splitting by hand. Personally, I started doing this at an extremely young age; about the time I started school.

    We do pay some taxes on our land but the taxes on the land are extremely low. We own an atv, but we also use the atv for many more things than hauling wood. Same goes for the trailer. Same goes for the saw. And what is this about folks stating $200 a year or more for the saw? My present saw was purchased for less than $300 and it is 10 years old. The only other cost has been for a couple of chains, files, gas and oil. No way has that saw cost us what folks are fond of quoting.

    Exercise! No gym dues for us. In fact, we do our cutting during the cold months when many spend their time indoors. We get good exercise by putting up wood. In spring when we no longer want to cut trees because of the birds and animals, this is when we do the splitting and stacking. A wonderful way to spend late winter or early spring days. Come warmer weather we get our exercise in many other ways.

    Around here folks who heat with propane have to pay an annual fee in addition to expensive propane. Another cost we do not have. Nor do we have gas or oil trucks coming in our driveway.

    One could go on and on but one of the biggest benefits of having wood heat is that we don't have to be cold in the winter. We hear and know of folks that don't even keep their homes at 70 degrees. We used to visit a couple quite often but quit doing so because in the winter we had to put on outdoor clothing in order to go visit because their home was so cold. They also dressed that way. As for me, our home will not be cold. We want to be comfortable and we keep it at a temperature that is comfortable for us; usually around 80 degrees. I shudder thinking what it would cost in oil, gas or electric to keep our home at that temperature.

    Plainly speaking, my wife and I are into retirement and we want to be warm. We want to be as healthy as possible. Heating with wood helps us in this quest.
    Blue2ndaries, CatieG, Seanm and 6 others like this.
  25. carbon neutral

    carbon neutral
    Feeling the Heat 2.

    Oct 1, 2007
    S.E. Connecticut
    I think the answer is very situational. First $.05/kwhr is exceptionally low. I pay ~ $.08/kwhr + delivery fees of ~$,04/kwhr for a total of $.12/kwhr.
    I spent several thousand dollars on equipment:
    Chainsaws: Dolmar 7900 $639, Husqvarna 346XP $440, Stihl 182 $220
    Wood Chipper: pro mark 23 ~$1700
    Log spitter: Harbor freight 22ton $860
    Back hoe JCB mini ~$10,000
    With that equipment I cleared my lot saving me ~5,000 and yielding me 15 or so cord of wood. I could sell the wood chipper and back hoe for more than what I have in them and I rent them out which brings down the cost, also rent out the log splitter.
    To burn all this wood I have an EKO 40 with 1,000 gallons storage, total for that set up was ~4,000. Burning 5 cord a year saves me about $4,000 a year. So from cutting my own wood I saved about $17,000, or you could say on the tree removal equipment I broke even and on the wood burning equipment I broke even after one year and each year there after is profit on investment. You do need to factor in your time. To do that you first have to ask yourself if you enjoy it. Another thing to think about is carbon foot print. By not burning fossil fuels I am helping my great grand children inherit a better world, or at least I like to think so.
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