Started as stove talk now thread about marriage, etc...

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MRD1985

Feeling the Heat
Nov 19, 2023
432
02888
Hello all. New here. Let me get straight to it.

We currently heat our 1954 build 1600’ ranch house in southern New England with a natural gas boiler and baseboards. It is as insulated as best it can be according to energy audit company. It has an open floor plan for kitchen adjacent to living rooms. There are 3 bedrooms total, 2 off the living room and one off the kitchen near the entrance to the house. Heating cost is approximately 1200$ from November to may. We have a good size fire place in our living room (I measured it but don’t have it in front of me) which has 11 foot cathedral ceilings with tongue and groove board knee walls and ceiling. Then the fire place is used it absolutely feels cooler in the room/house and the boiler runs to compensate for heat loss going right out the chimney. It drafts very well. I’d like to install a wood stove insert for both heating and aesthetics. I was looking at the Drolet 1800 (measurements indicate it would fit well) l which seems hard to match price for the performance/reviews at around 1650$. I’d also be adding 6” 316 SS (approx 800$). 1/2” insulated flue don’t the existing clay tile flue and fabricate my own block off plate. The damper will have to be removed and cut out to fit (not a big deal). I will be installing everything myself. I currently have approximately 2 cords of fully seasoned oak/white oak in the back yard split and stacked we use for the fire place.

My question boils down to is it worth using this stove to heat the house given the information provided? I estimate that I would reduce my gas bill by about 75% or more with the wood being free for at least the first year. Even purchasing wood I estimate at least 50% savings.

Couple of notes. Wife is concerned about safety (2 small kids) and “cost of wood”. She seems to think it’s too expensive.

One other note is that the total chimney height would be around 13-14 feet.

Would love to hear all thoughts!
 
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Sounds like it would work out ok. The Escape 1800 will work on a shorter flue system though better if it's 14'.
 
You need to be able to store 2 beat if you can store 3 years of wood. It’s messy. No way around that. I have the 1800i it’s good. I’m just guessing here but spending nearly 3k on the stove and burning 2 cords a year say that’s 700$ of wood. Saves you $1000 a year (I think that being optimistic on the savings but the math is easy) so you save 200$ a year and it takes 15 years to be break even.

My solution is to start scrounging wood. Get a fiskars and a small 16” chainsaw and ALL the PPE. Is it worth it? If you like a fire probably. If your SO complains about the mess and how much time you spend bucking splitting stacking ect. Maybe not.

Kids learn fast. We’ve had a couple of small blisters and a couple toys melted to the glass. It’s not been an issue.
 
Research the current biomass tax credit to get some $ knocked off your tax bill.

My dad just ordered the Drolet 1800 Trio and he is receiving it today, 3 business days after ordering. Will let you know how it pans out.

I grew up in a woodturning family so the transition was easy for my own place. I knock off at least half the electric bill and have a method to heat during a power outage. Do the math that makes sense for your family's situation (if you are never home, you can't feed the stove). Also- my two children have instinctively known not to go near it.
 
You need to be able to store 2 beat if you can store 3 years of wood. It’s messy. No way around that. I have the 1800i it’s good. I’m just guessing here but spending nearly 3k on the stove and burning 2 cords a year say that’s 700$ of wood. Saves you $1000 a year (I think that being optimistic on the savings but the math is easy) so you save 200$ a year and it takes 15 years to be break even.

My solution is to start scrounging wood. Get a fiskars and a small 16” chainsaw and ALL the PPE. Is it worth it? If you like a fire probably. If your SO complains about the mess and how much time you spend bucking splitting stacking ect. Maybe not.

Kids learn fast. We’ve had a couple of small blisters and a couple toys melted to the glass. It’s not been an issue.
I have a couple of saws and necessary PPE, stihl MS261 w/ 20” bar and a small craftsman. Have a fiskars and a couple of other axes. My father in law also has a 27 ton craftsman log splitter that I basically can use whenever I need it. I can get cord wood fairy cheap. It’s all over the place on line here for 150-250$ for cord seasoned hard wood but the cheaper it is the more processing it needs. I don’t mind scrounging as you suggested either. My worth schedule is 8 days a month (2 24 hour shifts per week) so I do have the time.
 
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Research the current biomass tax credit to get some $ knocked off your tax bill.

My dad just ordered the Drolet 1800 Trio and he is receiving it today, 3 business days after ordering. Will let you know how it pans out.

I grew up in a woodturning family so the transition was easy for my own place. I knock off at least half the electric bill and have a method to heat during a power outage. Do the math that makes sense for your family's situation (if you are never home, you can't feed the stove). Also- my two children have instinctively known not to go near it.
It looks like the Drolet 1800 just barely misses the tax credit on efficiency(listed at 72% on the epa site). But it is on the 2020 epa list so I assume It would t qualify?

I also think my heat pump is going to suck up all the money on that form this year as it’s capped at 2000$. Put that in mainly for cooling as my electric is $0.29/kWH here but it does work very well for heating and while it doesn’t consume an insane amount it’s still more expensive than gas. Wood seems to be the least expensive by far
 
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My question boils down to is it worth using this stove to heat the house given the information provided? I estimate that I would reduce my gas bill by about 75% or more with the wood being free for at least the first year. Even purchasing wood I estimate at least 50% savings.
Well, you can do the easy math on cost savings, but at 75% of $1200, and adding in the cost of purchasing firewood, you can obviously see it's going to take several years to pay off the initial investment. And that's before adding any maintenance costs, tools, etc. Over the course of 10 or 20 years ownership, you'll save a little money, particularly if the fuel cost for your boiler goes up, but it's not going to amount to a lot. There are other things you could do with that time and energy, which would likely save or earn you more, if that's the sole goal.

But then there's the unquantifiable enjoyment you get out of having a fire going all day and night on the hearth, and the way it becomes a gathering point, as well as the enjoyment of falling asleep in front of it after a hard day's work outside on Saturday. And if you can get all that enjoyment out of something that's not costing you anything, even saving you a little, there's something to be said for that.

If you put the word out at work, church, kids activities that you will take firewood, it's very likely you'll quickly develop a free source of fuel, if you have the ability to move and process it. I usually have more than I know what to do with, from neighbors and coworkers, etc.

As to kids and stoves, my wife had the same concern, but it was never an issue. We got our first stove when our oldest turned one, before our second was born. Both of them had a natural inclination to give the stove a wide berth, "hot" may be something we've evolved to understand from birth. We had a rule of no rough-housing or ball tossing in the room with the stove, to avoid the situation of someone getting too excited and falling into it while not paying attention, and that worked well for us. In fact, their primary Thomas train set was right next to the stove, and they played there many hours.
 
Sounds like it would work out ok. The Escape 1800 will work on a shorter flue system though better if it's 14'.
The height of the house is about 12 feet. The stove would about 7” off the floor on brick, plus the height of the stove. The height from
The ridge line of the house to the top of the flue is about 30”. So it would be about right there.
 
Well, you can do the easy math on cost savings, but at 75% of $1200, and adding in the cost of purchasing firewood, you can obviously see it's going to take several years to pay off the initial investment. And that's before adding any maintenance costs, tools, etc. Over the course of 10 or 20 years ownership, you'll save a little money, particularly if the fuel cost for your boiler goes up, but it's not going to amount to a lot. There are other things you could do with that time and energy, which would likely save or earn you more, if that's the sole goal.

But then there's the unquantifiable enjoyment you get out of having a fire going all day and night on the hearth, and the way it becomes a gathering point, as well as the enjoyment of falling asleep in front of it after a hard day's work outside on Saturday. And if you can get all that enjoyment out of something that's not costing you anything, even saving you a little, there's something to be said for that.

If you put the word out at work, church, kids activities that you will take firewood, it's very likely you'll quickly develop a free source of fuel, if you have the ability to move and process it. I usually have more than I know what to do with, from neighbors and coworkers, etc.

As to kids and stoves, my wife had the same concern, but it was never an issue. We got our first stove when our oldest turned one, before our second was born. Both of them had a natural inclination to give the stove a wide berth, "hot" may be something we've evolved to understand from birth. We had a rule of no rough-housing or ball tossing in the room with the stove, to avoid the situation of someone getting too excited and falling into it while not paying attention, and that worked well for us. In fact, their primary Thomas train set was right next to the stove, and they played there many hours.
I understand the loss of the initial investment and there will be a period of ROI to break even. I was not accounting that into the first year savings (which I probably shouldn’t have). My wife loves having fires especially this time of year, as do I. The heat aspect from a stove is most appealing to me but we also just love sitting by the fire watching a movie as a family or just relaxing . The fire place has the reverse effect and pulls heat out rather than heats the room which is why I am not the biggest fan of it.

I have the means to move it(access to a small trailer, I have a F350 pickup, saws, wheel barrows, axes , etc). Our family has property in maine in the woods that is the reason I have all the equipment.

The sole purpose isn’t to save money over the long run (although that is a bonus!). If you read some of my replies I can source wood fairly cheap especially stuff that need processing. All over “facebook marketplace”. Cord hardwood split is around 150-250$ here. If you buy from a company probably 300-350$ tops.
 
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It looks like the Drolet 1800 just barely misses the tax credit on efficiency(listed at 72% on the epa site). But it is on the 2020 epa list so I assume It would t qualify?

I also think my heat pump is going to suck up all the money on that form this year as it’s capped at 2000$. Put that in mainly for cooling as my electric is $0.29/kWH here but it does work very well for heating and while it doesn’t consume an insane amount it’s still more expensive than gas. Wood seems to be the least expensive by far
I live just north of you in the same climate/cost of electricity area in a 1600 SQ ft gambrel two story cape with a family of 4. I do not own a furnace and the house is 100% electric. I have a heat pump, 11.8 kw solar on the roof and we use wood as our primary heat. I have an Osburn 1600 insert which is basically the 2019 slightly fancier version of the Drolet 1800.

The heat pump is great down to 40 degrees during shoulder season and warm weather. I burn between 3-4 cords a year depending on the weather keeping the house around 70-72 degrees. The stove keeps up fine until it gets to around 0 degrees overnight then the backup electric heat will kick on at about 5 am if I don't wake up. This only happens a handful of times a year so I just wake up early. During the summer we keep the house a steady 75 degrees to keep the humidity out so it's running constantly. The solar covers most things and with net metering I only see a bill in Jan-March.

I get all my wood from local tree services in log form. The guy I use the most I give $100 and he drops off 2 cords of hardwood logs in my driveway. So I can heat the house for about $200 plus my time/labor and cost to run the saw and splitter. The key is you need to have the time (sounds like you do) and space to store it all so you can stay 2+ years ahead. Im on an acre surrounded by woods so I can keep 12 cords out back without disturbing the yard too much.

My kids are 8 and 6 and are great with the stove. They know how close they can safely get and both enjoy using the IR gun to check the temp. My son is learning how to use the air control and can identify types of hardwood at quick glance. Educate, educate, educate. They love to be involved. My wife reloads it regularly too. We've had it for 3 years now and the only burn incident was me reloading and knicking my arm just past where the glove ended.

As far as the mess goes, yes it's messy, but it's manageable. You have to accept the stove are will be a tad messy but if you just keep a small vacuum handy and stay on top of it every few days it's not bad at all. If we're having guests I'll spend 2 minutes over there and it looks like new.

My neighbor spends $500 a month on oil and I spend about $300 a year on wood for similarly sized houses and temperatures. Sure all they have to do is push a button but I enjoy the work of wood. It keeps me in shape and something for us to do together. We absolutely love coming into a hot stove de after clearing the driveway or being outside frozen. Nothing will warm you up or dry your clothes off faster. I can't recommend it enough.

So to recap, things you need or need to accept:

- wood processing tools/area. We use the driveway it's wide and flat. Chainsaw, axe, maul, sledgehammer, way to transport splits, splitter if you want, etc.
- Plenty of free time to process wood
- wood storage area. Ideally 2-3 years worth
- wood source. Log form or scrounge is cheapest
- it's messy but manageable
- large upfront cost but pays for itself quickly
- motivation. It's a real commitment and some days you just don't want to deal with it but to me it's well worth it $$$, comfort, and lifestyle wise.

Started as stove talk now thread about marriage, etc...
 
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It looks like the Drolet 1800 just barely misses the tax credit on efficiency(listed at 72% on the epa site). But it is on the 2020 epa list so I assume It would t qualify?

I also think my heat pump is going to suck up all the money on that form this year as it’s capped at 2000$. Put that in mainly for cooling as my electric is $0.29/kWH here but it does work very well for heating and while it doesn’t consume an insane amount it’s still more expensive than gas. Wood seems to be the least expensive by far
SBI has a certificate saying it qualifies.
 
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I live just north of you in the same climate/cost of electricity area in a 1600 SQ ft gambrel two story cape with a family of 4. I do not own a furnace and the house is 100% electric. I have a heat pump, 11.8 kw solar on the roof and we use wood as our primary heat. I have an Osburn 1600 insert which is basically the 2019 slightly fancier version of the Drolet 1800.

The heat pump is great down to 40 degrees during shoulder season and warm weather. I burn between 3-4 cords a year depending on the weather keeping the house around 70-72 degrees. The stove keeps up fine until it gets to around 0 degrees overnight then the backup electric heat will kick on at about 5 am if I don't wake up. This only happens a handful of times a year so I just wake up early. During the summer we keep the house a steady 75 degrees to keep the humidity out so it's running constantly. The solar covers most things and with net metering I only see a bill in Jan-March.

I get all my wood from local tree services in log form. The guy I use the most I give $100 and he drops off 2 cords of hardwood logs in my driveway. So I can heat the house for about $200 plus my time/labor and cost to run the saw and splitter. The key is you need to have the time (sounds like you do) and space to store it all so you can stay 2+ years ahead. Im on an acre surrounded by woods so I can keep 12 cords out back without disturbing the yard too much.

My kids are 8 and 6 and are great with the stove. They know how close they can safely get and both enjoy using the IR gun to check the temp. My son is learning how to use the air control and can identify types of hardwood at quick glance. Educate, educate, educate. They love to be involved. My wife reloads it regularly too. We've had it for 3 years now and the only burn incident was me reloading and knicking my arm just past where the glove ended.

As far as the mess goes, yes it's messy, but it's manageable. You have to accept the stove are will be a tad messy but if you just keep a small vacuum handy and stay on top of it every few days it's not bad at all. If we're having guests I'll spend 2 minutes over there and it looks like new.

My neighbor spends $500 a month on oil and I spend about $300 a year on wood for similarly sized houses and temperatures. Sure all they have to do is push a button but I enjoy the work of wood. It keeps me in shape and something for us to do together. We absolutely love coming into a hot stove de after clearing the driveway or being outside frozen. Nothing will warm you up or dry your clothes off faster. I can't recommend it enough.

So to recap, things you need or need to accept:

- wood processing tools/area. We use the driveway it's wide and flat. Chainsaw, axe, maul, sledgehammer, way to transport splits, splitter if you want, etc.
- Plenty of free time to process wood
- wood storage area. Ideally 2-3 years worth
- wood source. Log form or scrounge is cheapest
- it's messy but manageable
- large upfront cost but pays for itself quickly
- motivation. It's a real commitment and some days you just don't want to deal with it but to me it's well worth it $$$, comfort, and lifestyle wise.

View attachment 319032

I have a 1/2 acre of property with a huge back yard so I have plenty of room for wood storage for at least 2 years.

I too have solar (6kW) and on net metering but from the trees in my yard and sun angle in winter it will not make a dent in the heat pumps consumption. From March to December I don’t have an electric bill. My heat pump is a high heat capacity mini split from Mitsubishi. It is great and very efficient. But my electric per kWh is too high to justify heating with it all winter (it is completely capable). The gas is cheaper.

I am not too concerned about sourcing wood cheaply but might have a hard time convincing my wife of that 😆. I’m sure my boys would love to be involved but my wife would likely have no desire to do so haha.

I am very confident I could heat my house for less than 500$ for the winter purchasing wood. Next season. I have enough for at least this winter if not into the next. My wife is cheap so making the initial investment is going to be the hardest sell.
 
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Good to know. But as I stated previously my heat pump is going to suck up the entire 2000$ cap for the tax credit.
For which year? Is Waiting till January for the insert realistic ?
 
I have a 1930, 1500 sq ft colonial. Somewhat insulated with blown-in insulation 30 yrs ago, and new windows. I save 75% off my natural gas bill for my boiler. I installed the stove myself so the whole thing cost ~$3000 and I have never paid for any wood in 12+ years. So it paid for itself in about 4 years...maybe 5 after some chainsaw upgrades ;)

My kids were about 5 and 2 when the stove was installed. We mentioned a few times about hot it was and not to touch it...they never did and we never had a problem. In fact, they stil don't touch it (I really wish they'd show some interest in building a fire!) . The only risk was the errant toy or paper airplane that I'd find behind the insert for time to time.
 
My wife is cheap so making the initial investment is going to be the hardest sell.
You just need to get her in front of that stove. Once she feels the warmth and coziness she'll be 100% on board with the work and mess.

Given the variety of weather where we live I think solar, heat pump, and wood stove is an idea combo for both comfort and cost. They all work well together.
 
I have a 1930, 1500 sq ft colonial. Somewhat insulated with blown-in insulation 30 yrs ago, and new windows. I save 75% off my natural gas bill for my boiler. I installed the stove myself so the whole thing cost ~$3000 and I have never paid for any wood in 12+ years. So it paid for itself in about 4 years...maybe 5 after some chainsaw upgrades ;)

My kids were about 5 and 2 when the stove was installed. We mentioned a few times about hot it was and not to touch it...they never did and we never had a problem. In fact, they stil don't touch it (I really wish they'd show some interest in building a fire!) . The only risk was the errant toy or paper airplane that I'd find behind the insert for time to time.
My kids are 5 and 3 so very close. I’m all set for saws right now but who knows what the future holds haha. This MS261 is a beast.

The stove comes with trim plate kit so nothing should end up behind it

I estimate my savings will be very similar to yours.
 
You just need to get her in front of that stove. Once she feels the warmth and coziness she'll be 100% on board with the work and mess.

Given the variety of weather where we live I think solar, heat pump, and wood stove is an idea combo for both comfort and cost. They all work well together.

I agree all on points. Hard part is getting to that point! Her big thing is why do we need that when we have a working boiler… 🤦🏻‍♂️
 
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So over the last 3 years my wife has gotten more and more involved. Partially because she had to due to a skiing injury I had but also because she enjoys the workout. She's a small woman but I got her the 28" fiskars and she's a beast with it. When were processing logs we all get outside and I buck and she splits with my 8 year old. She participates in all aspects of the process except the chainsaw. I don't let anyone use it ever, it's too dangerous a tool. I prefer to assume that risk myself.

Edit - another great thing about the stove is drying out boots and wet clothes. When the kids come in soaking wet from playing in the snow their stuff is dry in a couple hours. Putting on nice warm boots in the morning is a great feeling.
 
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So over the last 3 years my wife has gotten more and more involved. Partially because she had to due to a skiing injury I had but also because she enjoys the workout. She's a small woman but I got her the 28" fiskars and she's a beast with it. When were processing logs we all get outside and I buck and she splits with my 8 year old. She participates in all aspects of the process except the chainsaw. I don't let anyone use it ever, it's too dangerous a tool. I prefer to assume that risk myself.

Edit - another great thing about the stove is drying out boots and wet clothes. When the kids come in soaking wet from playing in the snow their stuff is dry in a couple hours. Putting on nice warm boots in the morning is a great feeling.

I would always use the chainsaw also as you said too dangerous a tool for a person. It familiar with its operation. The kids have run the log splitter for me up in maine while I load the logs they enjoy doing that so I’m sure they’d like to do that here. I’d also ingest in a splitting/wedge stand to hand split.
 
You just need to get her in front of that stove. Once she feels the warmth and coziness she'll be 100% on board with the work and mess.

Given the variety of weather where we live I think solar, heat pump, and wood stove is an idea combo for both comfort and cost. They all work well together.
This true. I suggest getting any energy tracker thermostats and setting at 65. Get her new slippers and fingerless gloves. Tell her how much you are saving. Then tell her it will be 75-7”80 in the living room with the stove going;)
 
This true. I suggest getting any energy tracker thermostats and setting at 65. Get her new slippers and fingerless gloves. Tell her how much you are saving. Then tell her it will be 75-7”80 in the living room with the stove going;)
We set our thermostats at 65 as it is.
 
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Started as stove talk now thread about marriage, etc...Started as stove talk now thread about marriage, etc...Started as stove talk now thread about marriage, etc...

When it's 65 on a cool fall day in the house it'll feel like 40 once you get used to the wood stove. She'll be asking you to reload it more often "it's only 70 on here I'm freezing" lol.

Here are some wood processing pics:
 
If money is the issue what about a used freestanding wood stove instead of an insert? Thats what i have had for 20+ years and absolutely Love it and the set up.

My wife was from NYC and "had to have" the open fire not the wood stove. After only a few days of the wood stove she completely changed to Loving the woodstove. She's always cold so when it's 75-80F in the woodstove room she couldn't be happier! She has seen the light, your wife will as well.