If you didn't burn wood, how much oil would you use?

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Swedishchef

Minister of Fire
Jan 17, 2010
3,275
Inuvik, Northwest Territories
Hey guys

An earlier post of mine, https://www.hearth.com/econtent/index.php/forums/viewthread/77915/ , questioned whether or not it was worth heating with wood financially (based on everyone's oil and electricity costs).

I found some answers blew me away: some people say that they burn 1000-1500 gallons a winter and some even 3000 gallons!!!

Pardon my ignorance, that seems to be a bit much. Would it not be better investing in some home efficiency upgrades?

My grandmother has a house that is 78 feet long and 48 feet wide (roughly 4000 square feet, one level). It's a beast. It was built in the 1940s and is old as heck. It never had the insulation upgraded and the windows were replaced with wooden windows in the early 1990s (and should be changed soon).

The oil tank holds 200 gallons (canadian gallons) which is aproximately 1000 litres. She lives in Northern New Brunswick, in a coastal community, where -20 is a normal day in the winter and 4 days out of 7 it blows like the devil. Some times you can actually feel air coming in through the large living room windows (unfortunately she doesn't have the money to replace them right now)

To be burning 1500 gallons would mean to fill the tank about 8 times a year. And in the past, she did do that (good thing I have relatives living with her to help pay those bills). They have since installed a pellet stove to help and oil has been cut in half. with oil prices where they are now, it would cost her $9600 a year, not just winter. And their hot water tank runs on oil as well (which uses a litre per day

However, my question is this: some people say that they consume 3000 gallons in a year?! That would mean that you would need to fill the tank 15 times a year!?! Does it make sense??

For those who used to heat with oil and have since switched to wood, I certainly understand why!

Andrew
 
I have 3000sqft to heat. I have a high efficiency Buderus oil boiler which supplies my DHW and would supply my hot water for heat if I did not burn wood. I have a 330 gallon oil tank, and I've used almost 3/4 of a tank since last October to solely heat DHW (100% wood for heating last year). Last winter was long and very cold, and I have no doubt that I would have used between 3-4 tanks of oil to heat my house - so, perhaps 1100 gallons. That might be too low, but I doubt too high an estimate. Oil was running in the very high $3's per gallon - so probably about $1200/fill or $3600 for the winter. That said, I'm estimating based on how warm I'd be keeping the house on oil - probably about 64-66*. Cheers!
 
Chef,

I have the 10 years of oil usage prior to getting my woodstove. If I remember correctly I was using between 900 and 1100 gallons of heating oil a year, so at todays rates that would be 2-3 thousand bucks. Last year I burnd $300 worth of heating oil when I had the furnace turned on in the dead of a verrrrrry cold winter.

Yes investing in upgrading your structure itself, insulation, windows, etc. most definately gives you the most bang for your buck. But even after those upgrades, it makes scense for someone like me, with limited heating options, either LP, oil, or electric, to heat with wood. Especially when you consider I can get years and years of hard wood, for the nominal cost of scrounging it. I basicaly live in a hardwood forest.

Shawn
 
$2000.00 worth........ from Oct to March at 2010 prices.

-Soupy1957
 
none....

But that's because we are on town NG.


Without the stove we would go through around 1200 therms of gas for heat, maybe 1500 total year round with the hot water (equivalent to 1100 gal of #2 on a BTU for BTU basis). However I expect that to go down as much as 20 or 30% when we get the big insulation and air sealing project done.

This is for 1400 sq ft near Boston (avg. 6000 HDD)
 
1,500+ gallons to heat the house at the same temp as I do with oil

Current oil price: About $3.80 per gallon

Cost: $5,700

Currently 8 cords of wood runs me $960.
 
Dang, it has been over 30 years since we heated with anything except wood so I have to admit I do not remember for sure. However, it seems when we had LP I had a few people, including the gas man estimate it would take 1,000 minimum and 1,500 maximum in lp to heat this crate. Back then the lp was under a dollar for sure. But through our years we have heated very little with gas or oil....and I hated it when we did. Now I can stay warm and be comfortable in the house even in the winter months.
 
Good lord some of you guys heat monster houses! 1500+ gallons for heat in the winter alone? Phooooeyyy...good thing we have forests that like to be harvested and replanted!

$5700 in oil..I would die

I simply can't see myself ever paying more than I do now for heating: with wood and electric, maybe $1700 a year (including 3 cords of hardwood at $250 each) and that also includes my lights, hot water tank and any other electrical device!

Andrew
 
Swedishchef said:
Good lord some of you guys heat monster houses! 1500+ gallons for heat in the winter alone? Phooooeyyy...good thing we have forests that like to be harvested and replanted!

$5700 in oil..I would die

I simply can't see myself ever paying more than I do now for heating: with wood and electric, maybe $1700 a year (including 3 cords of hardwood at $250 each) and that also includes my lights, hot water tank and any other electrical device!

Andrew


My home is 2149 sq ft. Not small, but definitely not a 'monster house'. Am I dealing with a lot of draftiness? Yes. Is there a simple solution? No. I get a lot of cold air coming up from the floor (I do not have a basement) and I have old windows. Two-thirds of the house has stone walls that can not be insulated.

And yes, $5,700 is not a doable solution. Thankfully we began installing stoves before the price jumped over $3.00 a gallon. The winter before the first stove was installed came to $3,200.

Will this place become less drafty? Yes. But it was cheaper to oversize my heating needs with stoves than it was insulating (windows alone would run me about $20,000). To date I have purchased 4 stoves totaling $2,150. Three liner installations came to about $5,800. I still work on tightening this place up every year, but the big items (wall insulation, windows, two sets of leaky french doors, something to make the foundation less drafty) will have to wait.
 
soupy1957 said:
$2000.00 worth........ from Oct to March at 2010 prices.

-Soupy1957

Wow Soupy, thats $330 a month for a medium size home in a milder climate. Is that strictly oil or is that wood burning on top of that?
I dont know how you guys can afford that. Hope the wood burning has erased most of that $2000.
 
At one time in the 70's there were two oil furnaces that heated our home. One upstairs and another one in the basement, both over 100,000 btus each. Dad said oil bills were over 400 a month. He bought the home then insulated and replaced windows, which there are 42. I'm not exactly sure how much propane we would burn now, but maybe a 500 gallon tank about every other month. We have a 1200 sf basement and two stories which are each 1200 sf with 10' ceilings. I still have some room for improvements but we burn about 6.5 cords, which hopefully we drop a cord since airsealing and insulating the attic. Our home is a Victorian over 150 years old.
 
.8 gallons per hr here when we had oil. Elec heat pump was installed 2 yrs ago but its about worthless. I guess it would be 260-280 a month today.
 
We have a house just under 1400 sq ft.Last yr we burned 960 gals of oil.This yr,new Rangeley,5 cords of wood.3 hardwood and 2 soft.Hope this is enough.Some old partially uninsulated walls,double paned glass that is still cold which we put the shrink plastic over.The new doors should help this winter.Foundation which contains the boiler which will be used for just water.Stays real warm down there.They wanted us to pay $330 a month this yr on a plan.That's why we have the stove before the insulation.FREE WOOD.Think this will be enough wood this yr? I know it's a hard question?Attic and basement walls insulated this yr.
 
BrowningBAR said:
Swedishchef said:
Good lord some of you guys heat monster houses! 1500+ gallons for heat in the winter alone? Phooooeyyy...good thing we have forests that like to be harvested and replanted!

$5700 in oil..I would die

I simply can't see myself ever paying more than I do now for heating: with wood and electric, maybe $1700 a year (including 3 cords of hardwood at $250 each) and that also includes my lights, hot water tank and any other electrical device!

Andrew


My home is 2149 sq ft. Not small, but definitely not a 'monster house'. Am I dealing with a lot of draftiness? Yes. Is there a simple solution? No. I get a lot of cold air coming up from the floor (I do not have a basement) and I have old windows. Two-thirds of the house has stone walls that can not be insulated.

And yes, $5,700 is not a doable solution. Thankfully we began installing stoves before the price jumped over $3.00 a gallon. The winter before the first stove was installed came to $3,200.

Will this place become less drafty? Yes. But it was cheaper to oversize my heating needs with stoves than it was insulating (windows alone would run me about $20,000). To date I have purchased 4 stoves totaling $2,150. Three liner installations came to about $5,800. I still work on tightening this place up every year, but the big items (wall insulation, windows, two sets of leaky french doors, something to make the foundation less drafty) will have to wait.

BrowningBAR, we have such similar situations. 2400 sq ft old farmhouse, drafty partial basement/crawlspace, old windows, etc., etc. To do things right will cost a bundle. 1500 gallons of oil a year @ 4.93 a gallon puts one in the hurt locker financially very quickly. Forget saving anything for big repairs. Getting a new stove (Woodstock he-that-shall-not-be-named) and hoping that we can stop hemorrhaging money on heating. You do give me hope that it will work for this drafty old place.
 
Quick question: does the US have any retrofit grants? For 3 years the Canadian Government had retrofit grants. Tons of money for new windows, insulation, etc. Here is a list of the grants available.
http://oee.nrcan.gc.ca/residential/personal/retrofit-homes/retrofit-qualify-grant.cfm#heating

BrowningBAR: is your house one floor? Or two? If it's 2, you could spray foam underneath your floor for about $1500 at R10. (I spray foamed my foundation on the inside, 8 foot wall for 156 feet of perimeter) and it cost $3000. Plus it is air tight....dunno if it would help significantly but it made a huge difference on my foundation walls!

I certainly can symphatize with not having $50000 lying around for energy efficiency improvements. Money doesn't grow on trees. I certainly wish it did, I would buy enough wood for 5 years!

Bub381 : I think you should be fine this year..that is a decent amount of wood!

Andrew
 
HollowHill said:
BrowningBAR said:
Swedishchef said:
Good lord some of you guys heat monster houses! 1500+ gallons for heat in the winter alone? Phooooeyyy...good thing we have forests that like to be harvested and replanted!

$5700 in oil..I would die

I simply can't see myself ever paying more than I do now for heating: with wood and electric, maybe $1700 a year (including 3 cords of hardwood at $250 each) and that also includes my lights, hot water tank and any other electrical device!

Andrew


My home is 2149 sq ft. Not small, but definitely not a 'monster house'. Am I dealing with a lot of draftiness? Yes. Is there a simple solution? No. I get a lot of cold air coming up from the floor (I do not have a basement) and I have old windows. Two-thirds of the house has stone walls that can not be insulated.

And yes, $5,700 is not a doable solution. Thankfully we began installing stoves before the price jumped over $3.00 a gallon. The winter before the first stove was installed came to $3,200.

Will this place become less drafty? Yes. But it was cheaper to oversize my heating needs with stoves than it was insulating (windows alone would run me about $20,000). To date I have purchased 4 stoves totaling $2,150. Three liner installations came to about $5,800. I still work on tightening this place up every year, but the big items (wall insulation, windows, two sets of leaky french doors, something to make the foundation less drafty) will have to wait.

BrowningBAR, we have such similar situations. 2400 sq ft old farmhouse, drafty partial basement/crawlspace, old windows, etc., etc. To do things right will cost a bundle. 1500 gallons of oil a year @ 4.93 a gallon puts one in the hurt locker financially very quickly. Forget saving anything for big repairs. Getting a new stove (Woodstock he-that-shall-not-be-named) and hoping that we can stop hemorrhaging money on heating. You do give me hope that it will work for this drafty old place.


I'm interested in your floor plan. I am assuming it is a traditional non-open floor plan? I hope I am wrong. Is there any chance you have a centrally located chimney like a traditional 4 square farmhouse? I don't which is why I have three stoves.
 
Swedishchef said:
Quick question: does the US have any retrofit grants? For 3 years the Canadian Government had retrofit grants. Tons of money for new windows, insulation, etc. Here is a list of the grants available.

At the federal level there are just tax credits and its not much .... 10%.

Some states and utilities do grants. Mine does to the tune of 75% and I am taking advantage of that this year.
 
Swedishchef said:
BrowningBAR: is your house one floor? Or two? If it's 2, you could spray foam underneath your floor for about $1500 at R10. (I spray foamed my foundation on the inside, 8 foot wall for 156 feet of perimeter) and it cost $3000. Plus it is air tight....dunno if it would help significantly but it made a huge difference on my foundation walls!

I certainly can symphatize with not having $50000 lying around for energy efficiency improvements. Money doesn't grow on trees. I certainly wish it did, I would buy enough wood for 5 years!

Two stories with an L-Shaped floor plan. Attached is the floor plan.
 

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Crawl space under first floor? Big house! I think spray foam could help you in a situation with drafty cool floors.

Either way, you have 2 nice heaters in great positions to help you to stay toasty!

Andrew
 
Swedishchef said:
Crawl space under first floor? Big house! I think spray foam could help you in a situation with drafty cool floors.

Either way, you have 2 nice heaters in great positions to help you to stay toasty!

Andrew


No crawl space. Three heater heaters, actually. The house is still kind of averaged size, though. I have enough BTUs to heat three times the square footage.
 
BrowningBAR said:
HollowHill said:
BrowningBAR said:
I'm interested in your floor plan. I am assuming it is a traditional non-open floor plan? I hope I am wrong. Is there any chance you have a centrally located chimney like a traditional 4 square farmhouse? I don't which is why I have three stoves.

You are right that it is not an open floor plan. Traditional federal layout - large central hall with open staircase to 2nd floor, which also has a large central hall. Rooms radiate off central hall. Interior chimney in front room off central hall, middle back of room, so about 10 feet from the center of the house. Judging how heat rises in this house, I'm not too worried about the second floor. The back kitchen and room across the hall from the stove room may have problems.
 
HollowHill said:
BrowningBAR said:
I'm interested in your floor plan. I am assuming it is a traditional non-open floor plan? I hope I am wrong. Is there any chance you have a centrally located chimney like a traditional 4 square farmhouse? I don't which is why I have three stoves.

You are right that it is not an open floor plan. Traditional federal layout - large central hall with open staircase to 2nd floor, which also has a large central hall. Rooms radiate off central hall. Interior chimney in front room off central hall, middle back of room, so about 10 feet from the center of the house. Judging how heat rises in this house, I'm not too worried about the second floor. The back kitchen and room across the hall from the stove room may have problems.

I am interested in knowing how the new stove works out for you. I am pretty sure I will buy two at some point. (They will replace the Heritage and the Vigilant).
 
Heating a 2000 SF tri level in a usually not horrible winter climate, but last winter was brutal for us.

Before the PE, I was running an average of 200 gallons from mid November to mid April per month (last winter oil was at US $4 + ). About 1500 per year for heat & HW.


Installed the PE, dropped oil consumption in half. Installed the NC13, and an electric hot water heater last year, and eliminated oil.

It's going to cost me about $800 to heat the house this year. I'll deal with it.
 
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