Heating Costs

   / Heating Costs #1  

shooterdon

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I set up a spreadsheet yesterday to run the numbers. I estimated 150 million BTU's of heat for the year.

In my situation, using realistic burning efficiencies and the cost to process firewood (gas, oil, chains maintenance) came out as follows:

"Free" wood costs me about $35/cord to find, haul and process. 20 million BTU's per cord. (mix of woods) 11.5 cords...$404/year
10 Loggers cords purchased for $800 will yield 8 cords of split wood. 22 million BTU's per cord. (better wood) 1.3 Loggers cords...$1206/year
Purchased firewood $180/cord delivered. $22 million BTU's per cord. 10.5 cords....$1731/year
Pellets $200/ton. 13 million BTU's per ton . 13.9 tons....$2780/year
Propane $1.39/gallon. 91,500 BTU's per gallon. 1708 gallons...$2374/year
Electric $.11 kwh. 3412 BTU's per kwh. 44,860 kwh...$4935/year

I also looked at the time required to get those 150 million BTU's. Maybe not of interest to those who "love" processing wood but some might be lazy or have other interests. This includes finding "free" wood (2 hr/cord, moving material), processing wood (cutting - 2 hour/cord,split-4hr/cord) , stacking (1.5 hr/cord) etc.

Processing "free" wood...127 hours
Loggers cords...94 hours
Purchased firewood delivered to site... 32 hours
Pellets...21 hours

What was interesting....
I only save $525 ("earn" $8.33/hr) by buying and processing loggers cords over buying wood ready to burn. If I could speed up the splitting time from 4 hours/cord to 2 hours, I do not save any more money, but I "earn" $12.50/hr.

"Free" wood is not free but a heck of a value!! If you have a local wood lot that can be harvested, the time requirements are reduced. If you have to go find it, it is time intensive. Buying a bigger tractor, grapple, high end splitter, (say $10k investment) to process firewood is hard for me to justify. I save $1300 a year by using "free" wood, but spend an additional 95 hours to do it.

I currently heat 60% with propane as I do not like burning at night and I travel a bit and not here full time. My costs are $1900/year.

Not sure how accurate some of the "activity" numbers are...like stacking, splitting etc...just a best guess, but they will not affect costs. I wanted to get a feel for the value of my time. The "hard" numbers like BTU/unit, cost/unit, and efficiencies should be very close.
 
   / Heating Costs #2  
You can split a cord in 4 hours? I'm nowhere close to that!!!!! Can't even do a quarter of a cord in 4 hours with my 22 ton log splitter.
 
   / Heating Costs #4  
Good discussion. I’m missing something with the math- 150,000,000 btu/year and a cord is 20,000,000 btu? Isn’t that 7.5 cords? If it is that makes wood even cheaper!

The other interesting thing is the reduced cost of heating with “modern” electric heat pumps. The efficiency is way up!

Nothing will replace my wood. I still love the hunt, gather and split process. Plus it sets a nice rhythm for the seasons and a nice start to the day. I’d pay extra for the privilege to burn wood in my wood stove.
 
   / Heating Costs #5  
What is your target temp?
I'm from northern Vermont and my Dad taught me that it required less heat to be cool in the winter, plus there was less of the "it's too cold outside" syndrome.
Right now I'm sitting at 60 deg F, long flannel shirt. Fingers are a bit cool but otherwise I'm fine. Outside it's 49 F.
In another thread:
MGH writes:
Target temps probably would be around 72 in the winter and 68-70 in the summer. I would definitely want our master on a separate zone since we sleep with it cold all year long.

We will definitely have a wood stove, I just don't want to rely on it for primary heat

My Vermont penny pinching attitude would never have me keeping winter temps higher than summer temps, but it's his money.

One thing you left out in your wood analysis - I heated with wood for years in Vermont. Usually every time I processed or moved the wood I warmed up just due to the exercise.
Back about '09 I was burning wood in Virginia. This was just for supplemental heat in a cold basement rec room. I bought one of the Northern Tool manual nordic track style woodsplitters.
1188_lg.jpg
I'd split wood while watching football. Warmed me twice.
 
   / Heating Costs #6  
I'll toss a couple of thoughts in.

Most of the wood I use if from my own property, either storm falls, dead falls or take downs for other reasons. If I didn't burn it in the stove, I'd have to get rid of it some other way. Too much per year to simply pile and let rot. I got some from neighbors this year for the same reasons, storm falls they didn't have use for.

I don't know about anybody else, but I don't get a lot of exercise in the fall or winter. Dealing with firewood does a lot for me in that area.

I have little to nothing else to do with my time from October to March, so the hours are not lost for me when doing wood.

I keep my T-Stat at 62 or below and wear sweats most of the time during cool months. Even when burning, I don't like it above 68 or so. My LP use is more or less limited to very cold days and nights when the stove can't keep up, or when I leave for several hours and don't want to leave a fire burning.
 
   / Heating Costs #7  
"Free" wood costs me about $35/cord to find, haul and process. 20 million BTU's per cord. (mix of woods) 11.5 cords...$404/year
10 Loggers cords purchased for $800 will yield 8 cords of split wood. 22 million BTU's per cord. (better wood) 1.3 Loggers cords...$1206/year
Purchased firewood $180/cord delivered. $22 million BTU's per cord. 10.5 cords....$1731/year
Pellets $200/ton. 13 million BTU's per ton . 13.9 tons....$2780/year
Propane $1.39/gallon. 91,500 BTU's per gallon. 1708 gallons...$2374/year
Electric $.11 kwh. 3412 BTU's per kwh. 44,860 kwh...$4935/year

I'm reading cord (8x4x4) but thinking most folks buy and make by the rick (8x4x12 to 18 inch)
Also see 1708 gallons of propane, you must have one big house

In any case, I installed a 16 seer heat pump and with electric backup. Also have 2 vented propane fireplace inserts, one up and one down in the basement (1400 sq ft each level, walkout)

When temps fall below 40 degrees I turn the HP down, and turn propane up. Have one 500 gallon tank feeding FP's and a grill. Electric runs under 120 during winter, and only fill propane one time each year during summer.
 
   / Heating Costs
  • Thread Starter
#8  
Good discussion. I’m missing something with the math- 150,000,000 btu/year and a cord is 20,000,000 btu? Isn’t that 7.5 cords? If it is that makes wood even cheaper!

The other interesting thing is the reduced cost of heating with “modern” electric heat pumps. The efficiency is way up!

Nothing will replace my wood. I still love the hunt, gather and split process. Plus it sets a nice rhythm for the seasons and a nice start to the day. I’d pay extra for the privilege to burn wood in my wood stove.

My insert has an advertised efficiency of 65%. It does not get all the BTU’s out of the wood.
 
   / Heating Costs
  • Thread Starter
#9  
What is your target temp?
I'm from northern Vermont and my Dad taught me that it required less heat to be cool in the winter, plus there was less of the "it's too cold outside" syndrome.
Right now I'm sitting at 60 deg F, long flannel shirt. Fingers are a bit cool but otherwise I'm fine. Outside it's 49 F.
In another thread:
MGH writes:

My Vermont penny pinching attitude would never have me keeping winter temps higher than summer temps, but it's his money.

One thing you left out in your wood analysis - I heated with wood for years in Vermont. Usually every time I processed or moved the wood I warmed up just due to the exercise.
Back about '09 I was burning wood in Virginia. This was just for supplemental heat in a cold basement rec room. I bought one of the Northern Tool manual nordic track style woodsplitters.
View attachment 591498
I'd split wood while watching football. Warmed me twice.

My set temperature is 65*. But that is irrelevant to the cost comparison.

When my fiancé is here it is 68* and she is still cold. When we get married, I suspect it will be 70*.

Lifestyle will determine how much one spends on heating, but it will not affect the relative cost of different fuels. If you enjoy a 60* set point, that is what works for you and you will spend less.
 
   / Heating Costs
  • Thread Starter
#10  
I'm reading cord (8x4x4) but thinking most folks buy and make by the rick (8x4x12 to 18 inch)
Also see 1708 gallons of propane, you must have one big house

In any case, I installed a 16 seer heat pump and with electric backup. Also have 2 vented propane fireplace inserts, one up and one down in the basement (1400 sq ft each level, walkout)

When temps fall below 40 degrees I turn the HP down, and turn propane up. Have one 500 gallon tank feeding FP's and a grill. Electric runs under 120 during winter, and only fill propane one time each year during summer.


A cord is a standard unit of measure. People here use that word to describe a rick. A cord is 128 cubic feet and that is the unit I used

My house is 1600 sqft, but I also heat a 700 sqft shop. The shop is dialed down to 50* when not in use.

I did not look at heat pumps as I do not have one but it should be simple to run the numbers.
 
 
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