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Friday, January 8, 2010

Savings from Burning Renwable Wood

Happy New Year! All the best for 2010!

I recently had a wood stove insert added to my home. It's a high efficiency, modern insert and the goal is to produce a bit more heat for the home, more efficiently, more cheaply, and more sustainably than using the electric baseboards (which get their energy from burning coal).

I recently came across this fantastic workbook by the CHMC: A Guide to Residential Wood Heating. It's a must read for anyone who is considering a wood option for their home or for a new construction.

Of particular interest for me, was a calculation of costs for using wood versus electricity. I had to work it out for myself, but I'm thrilled with the results. Check out page 76 and 77 of the pdf for details.

I was able to calculate that my electric heat costs roughly $3055 per year using these calculations. This feels about right, since I also use electricity for hot water and cooking and lighting, this is about 70% of my annual electric bill.

Going for the same amount of heat by wood results in a cost of $1351, a savings of about $1700 a year. This tells me two things: 1) I'd need about 4.5 cords of wood per year to fully heat my home, and 2) this savings would be if I relied solely on wood heat. With my programmable thermostats, I'd still be doing a bit of electric warming in small rooms at certain times of the day and I probably wouldn't have the stove running 24/7 either.

But now I know that the effort required to run the stove is definitely worth it. The stove will pay for itself in 2 to 3 years, even after the cost of wood is counted.
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