Heating oil is cheap - why use pellets?

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Amin1992

Feeling the Heat
Oct 9, 2019
316
PA, USA
Hey guys, I'm hoping you guys can sell me here. We bought a home last year with an decrepit Quadra Fire CB1200 pellet stove that I fixed up for under 100 bucks and got working like a charm. I absolutely adore the thing. When I don't feel like building a wood fire and getting sweated out of my den, the pellet stove is great.

However, I just sat down and crunched some numbers. Heating oil here is just $1.30/gallon compared to the $2.75/gallon I was paying last year.

According to my calculations :p at $275.50/ton, pellets will cost me about $2113 per 100 million BTUs, while currently heating with (hydronic boiler at just 79% efficiency) would cost me just $1186 per 100M BTU, which is $927CHEAPER. It just so happens my house seems to use around 800,000 to 1,200,000 BTUs of heat per year so I'm just sticking to the 100M BTUs for estimations.

I figured that out that when oil is more than $2.30/gallon, oil is more than pellets, at $2.30/gallon, they are the same, and below $2.30, it's cheaper to use oil.

I'm a bit bummed to be honest. I was excited to try and heat the home with just my pellet stove and wood stove this year.

So I ask you guys - why should I use my pellet stove over my oil boiler this year? Why are you guys? I assume oil is cheap across the country right now.

The only things I can come up with right now...

-I can use it for auxiliary heat and ambiance once in a while, though I don't hang out in the room the pellet stove is in very often
-Decrease dependence on foreign oil
-More environmentally friendly fuel

As much as I love the ambiance of a fire, and being ethically sound, it's hard to give up almost a grand on that each year.

I appreciate the input guys.
 

SpaceBus

Minister of Fire
Nov 18, 2018
6,128
Downeast Maine
In your position I would go with the oil, because I don't think pellets are really that great for the environment.
 

johneh

Minister of Fire
Dec 19, 2009
3,626
Eastern Ontario
The cost of oil here is over the moon also my insurance company charges a premium if you are using oil.
pellets are still in second place behind wood and a little better than propane. Electricity is way out in left field
You have to make really good money to heat with it.
So I have a wood furnace (new one this year) propane back up ( got a 200 dollar rebate from ins, Oil gone)
and my summer kitchen is heated with pellets also heats downstairs in shoulder seasons.
So it is whatever works for you
 
Jan 1, 2019
108
Connecticut
Oil is 1.75 in CT currently up from 1.55 a few months ago and I’m sure it’ll be over 2.00 at the first cold spell. I bought pellets at 219 a ton this year versus 300 plus a ton otherwise o . I have water baseboard heat but haven’t used it in the few years I have had my 52i installed. Even though oil might be cheaper on paper , the constant warmth the stove provides is worth it . I have no problem maintaining 74 degrees (it wouldn’t be that high on the boiler).
I recycle all of my bags which get turned into trek decking boards.
It’s a different kind of heat ..
 

Amin1992

Feeling the Heat
Oct 9, 2019
316
PA, USA
Appreciate all the input so far. It sounds like oil is still in my best interest - it's staying cheap here, no premium on my insurance, and it heats the house better than a non central heat source like a stove. Also, even if I got pellets as cheap as $219/ton and oil went up to $2/gallon, it'd only save me $100/year. I cant store an entire pallet of pellets, so I have to buy them by the bag (usually buying $5/bag and grabbing 8 to 10 bags per month when I'm out, which equates to $250/ton)

Curious, where do you guys recycle your bags?

I'd argue it's more environmentally friendly as the materials for pellets are oftentimes thrown out, and it's renewable
 

tlc1976

Minister of Fire
Oct 7, 2012
842
Northwest Lower Michigan
I’m pretty sure my pellets come from ground up shipping pallets. Some others use sawdust or other wood scraps. I think as long as they get made from waste they’re more environmentally friendly.

I recycle my bags at the standard recycle drop off. I use the bags to hold the recycling materials. They also make excellent tall kitchen garbage bags which will not tear, besides being free. And for other trash. Or to cover boxes that I don’t want dripped on. Or even to put under furniture legs to help it slide on carpet.

Unless you got an excellent zoned oil heating system, you can save money with pellets by only heating the area you will be spending your time in.
 

SpaceBus

Minister of Fire
Nov 18, 2018
6,128
Downeast Maine
Appreciate all the input so far. It sounds like oil is still in my best interest - it's staying cheap here, no premium on my insurance, and it heats the house better than a non central heat source like a stove. Also, even if I got pellets as cheap as $219/ton and oil went up to $2/gallon, it'd only save me $100/year. I cant store an entire pallet of pellets, so I have to buy them by the bag (usually buying $5/bag and grabbing 8 to 10 bags per month when I'm out, which equates to $250/ton)

Curious, where do you guys recycle your bags?

I'd argue it's more environmentally friendly as the materials for pellets are oftentimes thrown out, and it's renewable

Pellet manufacturers say that the wood products would otherwise be waste, but many manufacturers have been caught clear cutting entire forests for making pellets.
 

Amin1992

Feeling the Heat
Oct 9, 2019
316
PA, USA
I’m pretty sure my pellets come from ground up shipping pallets. Some others use sawdust or other wood scraps. I think as long as they get made from waste they’re more environmentally friendly.

I recycle my bags at the standard recycle drop off. I use the bags to hold the recycling materials. They also make excellent tall kitchen garbage bags which will not tear, besides being free. And for other trash. Or to cover boxes that I don’t want dripped on. Or even to put under furniture legs to help it slide on carpet.

Unless you got an excellent zoned oil heating system, you can save money with pellets by only heating the area you will be spending your time in.

Thanks for the info. You're right, my bags are #4 plastic which I'm pretty sure my recycling center takes. I never even thought about cutting them better to reuse them as trash bags. Thanks for that!

I actually have a pretty good zoning in my house which I lucked out with. There are two things that make it tricky to heat with the pellet stove. For one, my house's insulation is awful, so shutting the doors to bathrooms, guest bedrooms, etc ends up making those rooms a bit too cold on cold nights - makes me nervous about pipes freezing. The other issue is that the pellet stove is in my open living room/dining room/kitchen. When we're upstairs where the stove is (spend most of nights in den downstairs with the wood stove) we are usually spending time on the opposite end of the house in the bedroom, and it's quite hard to get the pellet heat all the way over there, through the open living/dining/kitchen area, plus there is a giant 2 story foyer between those rooms and the bedroom. So, on a typical night, the pellet stove isn't good for centralizing heat for us. If it's a rare night where we're having a dinner party and hanging out in those rooms, the pellet stove wins for sure though, but those are rare.


Pellet manufacturers say that the wood products would otherwise be waste, but many manufacturers have been caught clear cutting entire forests for making pellets.

That's a shame, but I think it's a bit anecdotal and I'd argue the production of foreign oil is probably more destructive. At least forests are renewable, worst case.
 

Ultralume

New Member
Nov 1, 2020
14
Upstate New York
If you like the ambiance of fire and use oil at the same time, why not consider getting an oil stove like the Drolet Yukon. It will give you a nice fire in a “wood stove “ that burns oil
 
Jan 1, 2019
108
Connecticut
Appreciate all the input so far. It sounds like oil is still in my best interest - it's staying cheap here, no premium on my insurance, and it heats the house better than a non central heat source like a stove. Also, even if I got pellets as cheap as $219/ton and oil went up to $2/gallon, it'd only save me $100/year. I cant store an entire pallet of pellets, so I have to buy them by the bag (usually buying $5/bag and grabbing 8 to 10 bags per month when I'm out, which equates to $250/ton)

Curious, where do you guys recycle your bags?

I'd argue it's more environmentally friendly as the materials for pellets are oftentimes thrown out, and it's renewable
I typically drop them at a local store such as Home Depot or others on the list below, I almost think they would send a container if you asked nicely and will have enough to make it worthwhile for them.
Trex recycling locations
 

Amin1992

Feeling the Heat
Oct 9, 2019
316
PA, USA
Wow, had no idea they had oil stoves! That is super cool. Probably won't invest in that though since I already have a great pellet stove, and I don't think oil will stay this low for the years to come.

And thanks for the Trex recycling locations, never knew - that is so cool
 

Ultralume

New Member
Nov 1, 2020
14
Upstate New York
6D772EAE-4387-4895-8FF0-47C69A6757F4.jpeg
6D772EAE-4387-4895-8FF0-47C69A6757F4.jpeg
 

Ultralume

New Member
Nov 1, 2020
14
Upstate New York
That is a picture of the oil stove in operation. I mentioned that particular one because it has a white flame burner which is bright and lively not subdued and slow like propane. When oil prices drop I will use it. When oil prices are high I use coal and wood instead
 

Amin1992

Feeling the Heat
Oct 9, 2019
316
PA, USA
So cool thanks for sharing this!!