Heating Cost Calculator

Steven LakeSteven Lake Solar Expert Posts: 395 ✭✭
http://www.travisindustries.com/CostOfHeating_WkSht.asp

Was doing some wood stove research and stumbled onto this cool little calculator. I know it's not a "solar" thing per say, but it can give you an "at a glance" overview of what it'll cost to heat your home in your area. I think it'd be a good way to supplement your solar config by finding the cheapest way to heat your home. :)

Anyhow, I thought it'd be helpful, so I posted it. :D

Comments

  • CDN_VTCDN_VT Solar Expert Posts: 491 ✭✭✭
    Re: Heating Cost Calculator

    Well thanks .

    We use 2 Airtights . Water ,space & cooking ..

    My wood heats me three times minimum at least .

    Fall, buck,split & stack . ;)

    VT
  • nielniel Solar Expert Posts: 10,311 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Heating Cost Calculator

    that is a nice calculator. i think it might be better in the energy use and conservation section so i put it there. i also stickied it. maybe bb would like to enter it into the ongoing upper tier thread with many other facts, figures, and general stuff too that he started.
  • BB.BB. Super Moderators Posts: 26,769 admin
    Re: Heating Cost Calculator

    OK,

    I have added to the Work FAQ thread:

    http://forum.solar-electric.com/showthread.php?5556-Working-Thread-for-Solar-Beginner-Post-FAQ&p=36286#post36286

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • Steven LakeSteven Lake Solar Expert Posts: 395 ✭✭
    Re: Heating Cost Calculator

    Wow! This is great to hear that it was indeed so useful! :D Neil, thanks for moving it. I'm never quite sure where things like this should go. Well, at least not yet, but I'm working on it. ^_^;;

    As for the numbers, I played with the calculator and it came out that it's cheapest to heat with wood, assuming no electric is used for fans or anything and you just do straight wood stove heat, or at the very least peltier fan circulation. (honestly, not surprising, but still...) Oddly though, in our state it's actually cheaper to heat your home with #2 Kerosene (ie, fuel oil) than it is propane or natural gas if you can't do wood. Go figure that one out.
  • nielniel Solar Expert Posts: 10,311 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Heating Cost Calculator

    i used to be able to get kerosene around here, but no more so i haven't a clue what it is going for these days. i think i last paid a bit over $1 a gallon last time i bought some.

    i had one of those 22k btu heaters and the wick burned down too far. i tried a replacement wick, but it didn't go well. i'm not even sure it was the proper replacement, but i know i screwed up putting it on. it's been collecting dust now for about a decade. i don't miss that smell either, but when there's no choice it's better than freezing. i could've used it a couple years back when snow storms were playing havoc with the north east.
  • Steven LakeSteven Lake Solar Expert Posts: 395 ✭✭
    Re: Heating Cost Calculator

    Niel, around here Kerosene (both regular and #2 "fuel oil") are running about $2.50 a gallon. It's grown so much in popularity that it's no longer the "poor man's" way of heating. Back when I was in elementary, you knew who the local poor were, as they heated with Kerosene. Those who weren't poor but were simply "cheap" (a badge we're proud of. lol) would burn #2 kerosene, locally known as "fuel oil" in their furnaces. Everyone else would do propane. In fact, it was a bit of a status symbol to have a gas furnace and/or stove. Now everyone has them and only those too poor to go with the "new gas" still have fuel oil.

    It's kinda interesting how both usage and perceptions change over time, isn't it? Oddly though, if they succeed in tapping those propane super fields out west, propane may become the poor man's fuel. lol.
  • nielniel Solar Expert Posts: 10,311 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Heating Cost Calculator
    It's kinda interesting how both usage and perceptions change over time, isn't it? Oddly though, if they succeed in tapping those propane super fields out west, propane may become the poor man's fuel. lol.

    steven,
    yes it is as i was using it for one of the reasons you stated and it wasn't because i am well to do.:roll: i think that propane would be nice as a new poor man's fuel as i like propane better.
  • Steven LakeSteven Lake Solar Expert Posts: 395 ✭✭
    Re: Heating Cost Calculator

    Oh, I do too. I'd love to do all my heating and cooking with propane. But until they can make it cheaper than wood, I'm sticking with that method of home heating for now. Oh, and PS, feeding a wood stove may be cheaper, but good gawds is it a ton of work. lol.
  • solarvicsolarvic Solar Expert Posts: 1,041 ✭✭✭
    Re: Heating Cost Calculator

    Isn,t propane a by product of oil refining? I used that before I got my gas well and it was a lot more expensive than oil. Since oil is so expensive I think propane would parrelell the price hikes of oil. :Dsolarvic:D
  • Lee DodgeLee Dodge Solar Expert Posts: 112 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Heating Cost Calculator
    solarvic wrote: »
    Isn,t propane a by product of oil refining? I used that before I got my gas well and it was a lot more expensive than oil. Since oil is so expensive I think propane would parrelell the price hikes of oil. :Dsolarvic:D

    Propane can be a by-product of oil refining, or separated out from the methane and ethane at natural gas wells. Propane (C3H8 ) is less volatile than methane (CH4) or ethane (C2H6), but more volatile than components used in gasoline and diesel fuel. It typically does parallel the cost of oil and/or natural gas.
  • n3qikn3qik Solar Expert Posts: 741 ✭✭
    Re: Heating Cost Calculator

    Just my 2 cents. Paid $ 2.64/gallon for propane last week.
  • Rngr275Rngr275 Solar Expert Posts: 101 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Heating Cost Calculator

    Here is one I used a long time ago when I was burning pelets.
    http://pelletheat.org/pellets/compare-fuel-costs/
  • Steven LakeSteven Lake Solar Expert Posts: 395 ✭✭
    Re: Heating Cost Calculator

    Oooo. I like that brass fire set on the wall. :D As for the calculator, that's pretty good. :D
  • icarusicarus Solar Expert Posts: 5,090 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Heating Cost Calculator

    I used to find that if you had to buy wood, and you had gas available, Nat. Gas was much cheaper net/net BTUs into the room. Modern woodstoves have helped but with the price of gas as cheap as it is, it is pretty hard to compete. Propane on the other hand comes with huge price spikes and valleys, roughly following auto fuel, since most propane comes from refined oil.

    In our rental house in Maine we converted to Nat. Gas from oil for a coupe of reasons. The first is price. The price per therm is roughly 1/2 that of fuel oil, and it is a much more reliable fuel. Oil burners require more periodic maintenance than gas burners. Not servicing oil burners leads to inefficiency and potential danger.

    The other to reasons is the ongng liability of having an oil tank with the associate risks of leaks in the house (our in the yard as the case may be) Finally, the smell of fuel oil in neighborhood that burn oil is ubiquitous. Between small spill from delivery, small drips in the basement, as well as the fumes from burning. I am darn glad to be rid of it!

    At home we burn wood, because it come "free". That said, nothing is free. An interesting comparison I once made WH th my brother in law. He works a white cooler job. He heats with propane, and it costs him about 2 days salary a year to heat his house. I heat with wood, and it cost me $5 worth of saw fuel and a few bucks worth of snowmobile fuel to haul, but it also costs me about 5 days total, maybe a bit more, not counting trips to the woodshed for wood. (he lives in the PAC. NW with mild winters,,I don't)

    Tony
  • mtdocmtdoc Solar Expert Posts: 600
    Re: Heating Cost Calculator
    icarus wrote: »

    At home we burn wood, because it come "free". That said, nothing is free. An interesting comparison I once made WH th my brother in law. He works a white cooler job. He heats with propane, and it costs him about 2 days salary a year to heat his house. I heat with wood, and it cost me $5 worth of saw fuel and a few bucks worth of snowmobile fuel to haul, but it also costs me about 5 days total, maybe a bit more, not counting trips to the woodshed for wood. (he lives in the PAC. NW with mild winters,,I don't)

    Tony

    You forgot to factor in the cost of the gym membership your brother in law needs to stay in shape - an expense that those who cut and split their own firewood don't have...;)
  • CariboocootCariboocoot Banned Posts: 17,615 ✭✭
    Re: Heating Cost Calculator
    mtdoc wrote: »
    You forgot to factor in the cost of the gym membership your brother in law needs to stay in shape - an expense that those who cut and split their own firewood don't have...;)

    Ah yes, but then there's the trade-off for aspirin, liniment, and chiropractic. :p

    I think I'll have to measure tree diameter carefully in future so the rounds won't be too heavy to lift.
  • mtdocmtdoc Solar Expert Posts: 600
    Re: Heating Cost Calculator
    Ah yes, but then there's the trade-off for aspirin, liniment, and chiropractic. :p

    I think I'll have to measure tree diameter carefully in future so the rounds won't be too heavy to lift.

    Ha! Yes. But then the brother in law, even if he has a gym membership, will be unlikely to make good use of it. So the diabetes and heart disease that come with a sedentary lifestyle will mean lots of medical costs and a shorter life expectancy.

    (Well - maybe not medical costs in Canada....:roll:}

    Speaking of splitting rounds. Anyone have any experience with electric log splitters? I've never wanted to deal with the noise, fuel and expense of a gas powered one but an electric one might make a good opportunity load for a solar system- and a good back up for when the back is complaining...
  • icarusicarus Solar Expert Posts: 5,090 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Heating Cost Calculator

    Not to mention the risk of accident! I nearly had a bad one last spring,,barely! Never underestimate stupidity!

    I cut birch,8-10"diameter. We (I cut with my neighbor) cut them about 8' long, then yard them home in a snowmobile sleigh,about. 1/2 cord at a time, depending on the going. I then buck it ~ 16" long and hand spit. We cut in the spring, when the snow is easy to go on, before the sap rises. The ideal is to cut and buck, and then get a really cold coule of nights, below zero F,then spit the next morning. One swing and they spit easy as a hot knife through butter.

    I usually leave it loose piled until sometime late summer, then it goes in the shed, to be burned not this winter, but the following..
    I will also burn the stray black spruce windfall. I often will cut a few aspen to use for quick fires in the warmer seasons. Because the house is so small, we actully burn a fairly small amount of wood. Unless it is quite windy , a brisk fire in the morning, usually letting it go out miday, a slow fire mid to let afternoon, and a couple peices for over night. (we close off 50% of the house when it is really cold, including the bedroom, so we actually only heat ~250 sq ft. So even if the fire drops overnight, the temp seldom drops below ~55 in the morning, quick fire to get warm again)

    If we are around all winter (most winters we travel a bit so we tend to be gone for some of the winter) we would probably burn 3 cords. In a normal year, a couple.

    Tony
  • CariboocootCariboocoot Banned Posts: 17,615 ✭✭
    Re: Heating Cost Calculator

    Electric ones I looked at used a long screw to move the log against the wedge. I can well imagine it binding or buckling under effort, running up the Amps on the motor and stalling it.

    Some of the knots in the lodgepole will all but stall my hydraulic splitter. Birch (not much of which is available here) can be a real bear. But it's always easier than the maul.

    Maybe if they had an electrically-driven hydraulic ram it would work. That would need a 5 HP 240 VAC motor to run it.
  • icarusicarus Solar Expert Posts: 5,090 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Heating Cost Calculator

    Using a splitter is away to slow. I use a variety of tools, 8# maul for the big stuff, then a wedged splitting ax, then a light weight ax depending on the wood. When it is really cold, one swing, with the wood stillin the pile and they halve. I'll walk throw the pile halving, then go down a tool to quarter, which is about as small as I usually go,,sometimes just half.

    Sometimes I will set. Pace, and tell myself I am going to split 100 peices, that takes another an hour. The splitting is the fun part, the stacking is the pain,, I let Susan do it if I can get away with it!

    T
  • CariboocootCariboocoot Banned Posts: 17,615 ✭✭
    Re: Heating Cost Calculator

    Splitter is way faster than me and the maul these days. It's those missing bits of bone, you know.
  • mtdocmtdoc Solar Expert Posts: 600
    Re: Heating Cost Calculator

    The electric ones I've seen have 15 amp 120VAC motors. Just not sure how effective and reliable they are. Some have good reviews on line and videos showing them splitting pretty large and knotted rounds. But I've yet to hear first hand from someone that uses one. I'm trying to get away from gasoline powered equipment when possible. I like to do things with muscle power when I can, but sometimes it just takes too dang long....and when the back is acting up, well...

    Currently, I'm struggling with whether or not to purchase a snow blower - which seems to have become an annual ritual for me. Every November I seem to consider it then decide against it and every February, I regret my decision..:roll:
    icarus wrote: »
    Not to mention the risk of accident! I nearly had a bad one last spring,,barely! Never underestimate stupidity!

    I hear ya. I've been fortunate - though I'm a rare, reluctant, and unskilled tree faller. In my day job I've sewn up a few chain saw accidents and care for way too many ex loggers with back injuries...
  • CariboocootCariboocoot Banned Posts: 17,615 ✭✭
    Re: Heating Cost Calculator

    Build your own lever-splitter! A bit of mechanical advantage helps.

    Must be plans for these on line somewhere. I've seen commercial ones that are a joke.
  • mtdocmtdoc Solar Expert Posts: 600
    Re: Heating Cost Calculator
    icarus wrote: »
    The splitting is the fun part, the stacking is the pain

    Agreed! Which is why there are 3 split cords sitting in front of my house in a large pile right now...:blush:
  • icarusicarus Solar Expert Posts: 5,090 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Heating Cost Calculator

    Touch wood, I have never cut myself, (except sharpening!) but I have cut through my Carharts! Falling mis calcs have been rare, but the odd widow maker has been seen.

    Tony
  • RyanRichardsonRyanRichardson Registered Users Posts: 3

    What a nifty tool! This could really help people who have solar installed to determine their heating costs and find the cheapest way of heating it. Even for someone who doesn’t have solar, this could still be very helpful. I’ve toyed with the idea of having a small house built, and this could be really useful. Thanks for this.

  • Steven LakeSteven Lake Solar Expert Posts: 395 ✭✭
    We're actually a big fan of wood heat, even though we heat with other means also.  One of our absolute favorite methods we've come across so far is to use a rocket mass heater for our heat.  Works very well.  You just have to ensure that the air gets circulated properly.  Otherwise it's a great heating method.  One trick we learned from a guy called "Zero Fossil Fuels" was to have your wood stove on the main floor, but your air intake for the stove originating in the basement.  Oddly enough, it works.  It sucks all the air out of the basement and with it all the cold in the house, replacing all the cold air with warm air.  Two hours burn time in the morning, and two in the evening keeps the house warm all day and night.  On really cold days we burn for three on each end, and even then it's shirt sleeve weather inside the house.  Even upstairs. :)
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