Economics of wood-burning, Part II

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by Cabin Fever, Sep 13, 2005.

  1. Cabin Fever

    Cabin Fever Life NRA Member since 1976 Supporter

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    Here’s a simplistic way of looking at the economics of woodburning. An air-dried cord (4’x4’x8’) of shagbark hickory, white oak or sugar maple contains about 30 million BTUs of heat energy. Theoretically, if this cord of wood is burned in a high-efficiency, air-tight woodstove (~70% efficient), the firewood would provide 21 million BTUs of useable heat.

    A gallon of propane contains about 90,000 BTUs of heat energy. If the propane fueled a high-efficiency gas furnace (~90% efficient), it would provide about 81,000 BTUs of useable heat.

    Now, if propane was selling for $1.60 per gallon, the energy value of one cord of hardwood would be about $415/cord (ie, 21 million divided by 81,000 times $1.60).

    If you’re currently burning propane and your firewood is free, the money you’d save by burning firewood would pay for the new woodstove and chimney installation (~$2,500) after burning only 6 or 7 cords of firewood. Of course, if you’re burning a lower quality wood or wood that isn’t fully seasoned, the savings wouldn’t be as great. One also has to consider that the heat from a some wood-burning appliances (ie, freestanding woodstove or fireplace insert) is not circulated around the house as effectively as heat from a gas furnace.
     
  2. Kenneth in NC

    Kenneth in NC Well-Known Member

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    Oh my acheing back from sawing, choping, stacking and carrying that firewood. :D



    Kenneth
     

  3. Valduare

    Valduare Well-Known Member

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    i verymuch so miss chopping wood. i should buy a truck load just so i can chop it and then resell it :p
     
  4. gilberte

    gilberte Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Yes, perhaps you should hire someone to do that for you. Then you can go to the gym for exercise :D
     
  5. dave85

    dave85 dave85

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    Doing this math for fuel oil, please?
    Thanks,
    Dave



     
  6. tooltime

    tooltime Border Ruffian

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    Fuel oil is somewhere between 132000 - 140000 BTU/gallon, depending on the exact type of fuel oil. Plug in your local price per gallon to duplicate Cabin's comparison.

    Depending on access, tools, etc. firewood is frequently readily available, but not really free, still time and equipment costs.

    One addtl. advantage of woodburning is that you don't need to rely on electricity from radiant woodburners.
     
  7. bill not in oh

    bill not in oh Well-Known Member

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    Hey Kenneth - Valduare is on the way!!
     
  8. Valduare

    Valduare Well-Known Member

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  9. RedneckPete

    RedneckPete Well-Known Member

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    I love my house HOT in the winter. I work outside most days, and when I come in at the end of the day I am often chilled, and want to be warm. I used to feel guilty about cranking the heat, now I just throw a few more chunks in the stove. My living room often hits 85 F, a nice sleepy heat.

    Pete
     
  10. Jen H

    Jen H Well-Known Member

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    Another way to look at it, that cord of firewood heats you up four times:
    1) getting it out of the wood lot
    2) getting it cut and split
    3) stacking it
    4) burning it

    Plus the fact that after all that work your pants are looser so you can get another layer on under them.
     
  11. ox

    ox Well-Known Member

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    Hey cabinfever! Add the value of a masonry stove, russian furnace (grubka) or similar technology and the wood burning efficiency goes up to 85-90%.
    May I humbly insert a plug for the Singing Falls Masonry CD :)
    Russian Furnace - Masonry Plans ?
    I can't begin to elaborate on the amount of would I haven't had to cut, split and stack. Our furnace operates very well on small diameter trees, mill slabs or split rounds.
     
  12. ox

    ox Well-Known Member

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    Sheesh, sorry for the late "comeback" CF. Been up to my eyeballs in Fall chores +. It'd be great to have you and your beloved over for a visit anytime. We're going gangbusters as usual and not gaining an inch of ground :help: :) Let us know.
     
  13. kabri

    kabri Almst livin the good life

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    None of the links on that page work :bash:
     
  14. ox

    ox Well-Known Member

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    uh-huh If you read the introduction you'll see that that particular page is merely the index of topics on the CD. Sorry for the misunderstanding.
     
  15. Hovey Hollow

    Hovey Hollow formerly hovey1716

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    I really would not mind spending $15 or more on plans for an efficent fireplace, but I would have to have more info before I ordered it. What do they look like? What kind of space requirements, how hard is it to build, any training required, and other general information? I need a certain amount of information to know if it is something we could do before we shelled out money for plans. Just a little more information provided on your website, would probably lead to more sales of your plans. Just my $.02. I am shopping for a fireplace or stove, BTW, so I am really interested.
    Thanks.
     
  16. heather

    heather Well-Known Member

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    We are installing a wood burner & an electric heat pump furnace -
    The furnace guys are installing a large vent near our woodstove so that we can just turn on our furnace fan, suck in the woodstove heat & blow it throughout the house......I was impressed, as we hadn't asked them to do that & they're not charging extra (I know it wouldn't be much anyway)....it remains to be seen how well it works!
     
  17. MarkSykes

    MarkSykes Well-Known Member

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    Assuming an oil furnace of 80% efficiency - probably on the high side - and fuel oil delivering 130,000 BTU/gal at $2.40/gal, I got $485. My oil furnace is at least 25 years old so I probably have lower efficiency.
    I have an Englander wood stove in the far corner of the family room which does a poor job of heating the rest of the house (even with the two ceiling fans on). We have a fireplace in the living room which is beautifully centrally located but astoundingly inefficient. You can light a fire and practically cool the house with it.
    I'm pricing a cast-iron insert and chimney liner for the living room and getting quotes of around $3000: $1200 - $1500 or so for the stove, $1200 or so for the liner and some labor. Does that sound 'bout right?
     
  18. heather

    heather Well-Known Member

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    My friend bought his oil in July at $1.89/gal
     
  19. horselogger

    horselogger Well-Known Member

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    try buying it now....2.35 a gallon around here!!!!
     
  20. Alex

    Alex Well-Known Member

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    Based on Cabin's ideas, here is a chart of equivalent fuel costs,

    Wood Equivalents for: Natural Gas, Propane, Heating Oil, & Electricity

    Boy, I sure hope it's exactly correct, I am prepared.

    After preparing this and looking at it, it seems to me, the most important thing is: to use high-efficiency appliances, no mater what fuel; and secondly to conserve, i.e., insulate, stop drafts, better windows, programmable controls, etc -- that's a big etc.

    Alex