what's this "good luck with that bill" BS?

PostBy: castiron On: Sat Apr 21, 2007 11:09 pm

Charlie Z wrote:$1070 (coal) vs. $1416 (wood) with your numbers. That's 30% more.

What does it take in time, equipment and effort for you to put up 4-5 cords?


Charlie.......Here's the problem: the Excel chart assumes 60% efficiency for a wood stove...mine is 72%...plug in 72% efficiency and then you find these prices for $ per Million BTU:

coal $10.70, wood $11.81

and these prices assume you pay for all the wood........if you scrounge any, wood easily beats coal and as coal becomes more in demand, the price is guaranteed to rise but I can find wood anywhere......

That said, for the reasons I mentioned in another post, coal does have advantages (longer burns, etc) so if I get a second heater it may be coal and I'll also keep my wood insert........best of both worlds....
castiron
 

PostBy: Charlie Z On: Sun Apr 22, 2007 8:30 am

What type of heating can wood be compared to coal? Today, only one.

Coal can be handfired stove, stoker stove, central heat and DHW, and all are practical in use (but can't touch oil/gas for convenience). Wood can only stretch in practicality as a secondary, handfired heat source and is the least convenient to use.

If you're just augmenting your heat and doing weekend fires, wood is ok. It's also ok for the corners of the coal burning season. I like the idea of averaging down the carbon emission of coal with wood, when I can.

But, wood doesn't stoke (pellets! great idea, not there yet), and central wood heat hasn't been sorted out. Outside wood boilers try, but are a mess:
http://www.woodheat.org/technology/outrickperth.htm
This link is broken, either the page no longer exists or there is some other issue like a typo.
(12-15 cords per season!)

Gasificaton works great if you are a rich man, love to tinker, and have no problem setting up a 600-1000 heat storage tank in your basement (do what?). Here's some good details on an interesting project:
http://www.hearth.com/talk/threads/5687/ .

The best way to use wood for central is a finnish-type masonry heater (tulikivi), but they cost $20-30k and you need to design your home around it.

and you still have to stoke each load...

A top-of-the-line central coal unit (AHS or EFM) is about a 1/2 the *installed* cost of the Tarm and has been sorted out since the 1930's. You can go on long vacation with the savings and still have a warm house when you get back.

A stoker stove can last 3-4 days without loading and many get a full day on their hand fireds.

I have friends that live in a converted summer cottage year-round. They heat solely by their VC wood burner. Their yard looks like a wood lot for a tree service, filled with 'free' wood and a nice, (not very free) 27 ton splitter. Half the time their home is 'very cool' and they argue over who is going to go home to fire the stove, and when. I've tried to explain using coal to them, but they give me a curious cocked-head look my labrador gives me, and they laugh, as if I was replacing my car with a horse. I've given up and they have too, after 4 years they're remodelling and putting in central gas.

So, burning wood is more constraining; it takes a lot more time and effort - even if the costs of 'free' aren't acknowledged. That makes it a 'lifestyle' choice. Which is fine; it's not a bad one.
Charlie Z
 
Stove/Furnace Make: Coalbrookdale
Stove/Furnace Model: Darby

PostBy: LsFarm On: Sun Apr 22, 2007 9:14 am

The original title of the thread is about the 'Bill' for wood, this assumes paying for wood. I have to agree with paying for wood, 'cause even with free wood on my own property, I can't scrounge enough TIME to cut, split and stack for the season, my coal consumption is 12-15 tons, that equates to what?-- 20-50 cords of wood??

Just a minute, I need to program my chiroprator's number on my speed-dial phone list. :)

What I had done about getting wood cut, split and stacked was to have part of the land-rental fee be paid in labor. I rent part of my property to a Hunt-Club, and they were paying in Labor instead of dollars, so it cost me dollars anyway. I take the dollars now!

There is no question that scrounging wood if that is what you like to do. It is a great way to keep the costs down on your heat bill, but you need to compare your time to other things you could be doing. Unless you consider the wood scrounging a HOBBY. Then it could be considered 'free'.

It's all a discussion on lifestyle. I'm all for convenience now, I'll gladly pay $3000 for a winter's supply of Buckwheat coal delivered, and spend the time I'd be 'working the wood' with a fishing pole on the lake. Just my choice.

For the ocassional cool night, I'd like to be able to burn an armload of wood in a fireplace insert, but the fireplaces are all sealed to prevent lost heat and creatation of drafts, and I don't want to un-do that job.

It's lifestyle, likes and dislikes, coal isn't for everyone, nor is wood. I prefer coal now. Won't switch back unless coal starts to equal propane in cost.

Greg L
Last edited by LsFarm on Sun Apr 22, 2007 11:23 am, edited 1 time in total.
LsFarm
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: Axeman Anderson 260
Hand Fed Coal Boiler: Self-built 'Big Bertha' SS Boiler
Baseburners & Antiques: Keystone 11, Art Garland


PostBy: Rex On: Sun Apr 22, 2007 10:14 am

This has been an interesting discussion and one I find neither side really winning.

If its about cost, the coal people have it,

If its about cost again with the idea of hunting down free wood, and chopping/cutting/hulling/splitting/stacking/drying/loading burner every 2-3 hours, then wood wins out. (I didn't include cost of chain sharping, purchasing chain saw, blades, gas mix, fuel, truck, etc..)

So both side win depending on what your after and accept as your cost.

For me I have a 2 stage 94% high efficiency LP gas furnace to heat a 3,000sqF house. I also just purchased a Hitzer 50-93 that I have yet to use. (finalizing installation) At $1.749 per LP gallon, coal became our next heating option.

Based on what I have been reading on this site and others, I'll be able to cut my heating savings well over half with coal (and be warm.) Cutting wood would just kill me in time, equipment purchase, and maintaining the unit.

I can purchase from a saw mill, solid core wood at $150 a dump truck load. This is not slab, but solid core wood. I'm not sure how many cords it would be, but based on what my father used from past purchases, I know it will cover the complete season. I know cost wise, this would be the best way to go, but our decision to go with coal meant maintaining the unit less, no creosote, and having a more even heat over longer periods of time. The extra cost for coal, in our case was justifiable.

Again I have not used coal yet, but have burned wood in the past so based on what I have been reading, this should hold true.
Rex
 
Stove/Furnace Make: D.S. Machine
Stove/Furnace Model: Circulator 1500

PostBy: castiron On: Sun Apr 22, 2007 10:46 am

Charlie, Lsfarm,

All good and valid points. I do agree that as one gets older that scrounging for wood becomes less appealing. I just got my new wood insert 2 months ago and I figure I'll use about 1.25 cords this coming heating season. This is because my house is small (1650 sq ft ranch) and, because it's well insulated, my entire NG bill for 12 months before I got the insert was only $800. Of that, about $300 was for hot water and $500 for heat. That $500 for heat buys about 500 CCF (50,000 cubic ft of NG) which is about 50M BTU which, even if I heated with all wood, is only about 2.5 cords of wood. Since I only supplement NG with wood, I'm only looking at burning about 1.25 cords a year and I process that by hand (chainsaw and ax and wedge...no expensive splitter.....hand splitting is great exercise) in a few days and then my work is done for the year.

That said, most would envy my low heating cost even at current NG prices but I was thinking that if I ever got a second stove that it would be a very small coal stove in my small family room (approx 300 sq ft) and that between using the coal stove most of the time and augmenting it occasionally with the wood insert currently in the living room, that I could use NG only for hot water and my total NG bill bill would be about $30/month. But then I have to buy coal and while it's a little cheaper than NG, I'd really just be offsetting one with the other. I do however, expect NG to rise significantly in the future so coal is looking more appealing all the time!

So...I'm not against using coal but only that, as you pointed out, there are advantages to both coal and wood....last night got chilly so I fired-up the wood insert for about 6 hrs and took the chill off and, even at 70F, the wood stove draws well, something a coal stove would struggle with. So....I see advantages to having both and that's why I'm considering a coal stove.

Great info on this forum!
castiron
 

PostBy: LsFarm On: Sun Apr 22, 2007 11:21 am

An $800 NG bill?? I'd be delighted to have that for a month!! That is truely amazing.

I'm 'green' with envy.

Greg L
LsFarm
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: Axeman Anderson 260
Hand Fed Coal Boiler: Self-built 'Big Bertha' SS Boiler
Baseburners & Antiques: Keystone 11, Art Garland

PostBy: castiron On: Sun Apr 22, 2007 2:16 pm

LsFarm wrote:An $800 NG bill?? I'd be delighted to have that for a month!! That is truely amazing.

I'm 'green' with envy.

Greg L


You guys must be heating a businesses on your property or you all have "McMansions"....LOL....

I have a 1-story ranch (built in about 1953) in the Dayton, OH area with 1650 sq ft upstairs and a 1/4 basement of about 250 sq ft downstairs. In the basement I have a 7 yr old Carrier Weather Maker Infinity 96% eff NG forced hot air unit with a DC variable speed fan (this is the one that saves BIG bucks on electricity) and next to it is a 50 gal Bradford White water heater. I have about R-40 in the attic, R-15 blow into the walls and I installed R-19 under the floors in the crawlspace and the house is sealed up pretty well against drafts.

I'd like to "get off the Natural Gas grid" except for hot water which is dirt cheap and the wood stove is part of the solution. Interestingly, I've done the calculation and about 40-50% of my hot water gas bill is to just maintain the water at temp for the 23 hrs when we don't use it......if I put it on a timer (it has a power vent so a timer would stop it from burning gas unless the power vent is also electrically connected) I could fire it up for about 40 minutes prior to use and then shower and still have some hot water left and then shut it off for 23 hrs and do it again. About 40 minutes of NG on the water heater costs about 35 cents per day vs the about 65 cents per day I'm paying now......65 cents per day is $19/mo and throw in junk fees and it's about $26/mo that I pay now for hot water....can't complain....

so, my plan is to put a small coal stove in the small family room of about 300 sq ft and between that and the wood insert, I can pretty mush kiss off NG except for hot water and supplemental heating. Based on the small room size and small house size, I was kinda looking at the VC Vigalant II. Are there others to consider based on the small room, small house size and the fact that it's gotta be a pretty good looking unit to pass spouse approval....?

thanks.

PS. what size home do the rest of you heat and what are your typical bills and what region are you in?
castiron
 

PostBy: LsFarm On: Sun Apr 22, 2007 2:52 pm

My home is about 4000 sq ft, has 41 windows, 5 exterior doors. only about 20 of the widows are upgraded to thermopane, none of the doors are younger than 40 years. I have three doors CAULKED shut !! :) Most of the non thermopane windows have clear mylar film over the window and jambs.
There are whole sections of this wreck that cannot be accessed to insulate, if I went into the structure far enough to add insulation, I might as well tear it down and build it right, Not enough $ in the piggy bank yet for that project.
So I have added blocking doors to separate the poor sections from the sections lived in, improved where I can. But it is a battle.

The first year I was here, propane was $0.72/gallon, I burned 1100 gallons durning each month of December, January and february. This was with the house at 60-62*. The last year I burnt solely propane I had managed to reduce the overall gallons of propane by about 20-25%, but with the doubleing of the price, it was still prohibitivlly expensive to keep the house warm.

So I built my wood/coal boiler. and last winter burnt only about 200 gallons of propane. At $1.79/gallon. The previous winter was expected to be a $6500..00 propane bill. but I installed the bliler in the middle, and got $back about half my pre-purchase money.

A nice tight well insulated house is a pleasure, but unfortunately I have what I have, and will just live with it.

Greg L
LsFarm
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: Axeman Anderson 260
Hand Fed Coal Boiler: Self-built 'Big Bertha' SS Boiler
Baseburners & Antiques: Keystone 11, Art Garland

PostBy: Rex On: Sun Apr 22, 2007 3:03 pm

castiron why not invest into a "on demand" hot water heater. I'm seriously looking at these. I'm running a 40 gallon LP driven tank and would love to dump it.

Or Im also considering purchasing a much smaller heater tank that will supply enough hot water for a shower. Have one installed for my upstairs bathroom, another installed in my kitchen. This way I'm not heating 40 gallons of water all the time.

Not to jump off subject, but the on demand water heater I like to know more about. (sure looks efficient)
Rex
 
Stove/Furnace Make: D.S. Machine
Stove/Furnace Model: Circulator 1500

PostBy: castiron On: Sun Apr 22, 2007 3:58 pm

Rex wrote:castiron why not invest into a "on demand" hot water heater. I'm seriously looking at these. I'm running a 40 gallon LP driven tank and would love to dump it.

Or Im also considering purchasing a much smaller heater tank that will supply enough hot water for a shower. Have one installed for my upstairs bathroom, another installed in my kitchen. This way I'm not heating 40 gallons of water all the time.

Not to jump off subject, but the on demand water heater I like to know more about. (sure looks efficient)


something to look into! I'll do the pay-back analysis to see if it's worth the $.


so...what's a good looking small coal stove I could put in a small room?
castiron
 

PostBy: castiron On: Sun Apr 22, 2007 4:07 pm

LsFarm wrote:My home is about 4000 sq ft, has 41 windows, 5 exterior doors. only about 20 of the widows are upgraded to thermopane, none of the doors are younger than 40 years. I have three doors CAULKED shut !! :)
Greg L




you have more caulked shut doors than I have total doors.... I see why you heat with coal...very warm, cost effective and lower priced than Nat Gas.

So, what good-looking, small coal-burning unit would you suggest for my very small (300 sq ft) room in my small house.....LOL...?
castiron
 

PostBy: Yanche On: Sun Apr 22, 2007 5:29 pm

Charlie Z wrote:Greg: I agree with you. I'm starting to believe that people "burn wood to burn wood". There is a primative appeal to it with a vague justification of savings, but I'm not finding it a very efficient or practical heating method. You come home to a cold house a lot.
The only way burning wood could come close to the convenience of a coal stoker boiler would be to have massive heat storage which would allow firing the boiler say once a week. The wood boiler would also need to be the wood gasification type so it burns wood as efficiently as possible. The boiler would need to be huge since you are needing it to produce a weeks worth of Btu's in one day. With wood gasification you could feed it log size wood. While water is usually used as a storage medium because it's convenient, it could be some other material with a large specific heat like rock. Engineering and building something like I'm suggesting would be expensive. You had better have an endless supply of free wood! If however you have some kind of manufacturing process that produces a burnable waste, something that costs to get rid of, the capital investment might pay. AHS built a custom stainless steel boiler that burns dried "chicken poop". Solves a disposal problem and provides process hot water and heat. No I don't want to tend that boiler!
Yanche
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: Alternate Heating Systems S-130
Coal Size/Type: Anthracite Pea

PostBy: e.alleg On: Mon Apr 23, 2007 12:33 am

LsFarm; your house sounds like mine. 2800sq. ft as published, if you count the finished basement and the large hallways it's about 4,000, Windows everywhere, doors everywhere, insulation? what's that? The windows were put in in 1887 (not 1987) and are 8' high, to replace them would be not only expensive but it would detract from the originality of the place. My house was built in the oil boom, the folks living here didn't care one way or another about heat, they had a coal furnace that was huge and a few dollars for coal didn't mean anything to these people, the wells were full of "pooled" oil (like underground ponds) and they were pumping $$$$$$ worth of black gold out of the ground every day back in the good old days. For me it's worth the heating bill penalty, in the summer it's real nice. It also just happened that the perfect spot for our homestead came with a slightly too big house, so we decided that with 4 kids too big is better than too small.
e.alleg
 
Stove/Furnace Make: EFM
Stove/Furnace Model: 520

PostBy: Charlie Z On: Mon Apr 23, 2007 7:38 am

castiron:

Ohio seems to have cheap gas. Your costs are low enough not to even mess with coal or wood. I'd be burning wood to just 'take the chill off', too at that rate. It's deminishing returns for you; in your situation you'll need to spend thousands to save hundreds.

We're trying to heat 1300sq ft, and we used over 1000gal of $2.50 oil over this past year to heat and DHW. My home is old, partially insulated and fully storm windowed - pretty average.

We'd continue to consider oil or gas as primary heating, if the oil situation wasn't a mess and gas companies weren't so cheesey. (Monopolies do wreck markets...). Obviously, they are the most convenient and efficient heat sources, but we're using coal and wood as 'alternatives', with the added justification of cost savings.

GREG: Please don't mention the chiropractor. No kidding: I blew out the tendons in my right arm with all the recent chopping and stacking of the free wood the fruit farm delivered. Getting old stinks.

YANCHE: Simply, it comes down to wood not throwing enough BTUs long enough. Woodheat.org has some very realistic assessments of wood boilers, etc., stating same. Space heating (stove) is where wood does it's best. (Yes, Yanche, I'm coming around to stoked central heating... My oil burner has seen it's last season and quote came in at $8900(!) for a 215-3 Buderus, indirect superstor heater (40gal) and a new double-wall Roth tank. A US Peerless knocks $500 off that (woohoo). All to burn $2.50/gal oil. "A bargain at half the price." Time to ring up AHS and EFM...)
Charlie Z
 
Stove/Furnace Make: Coalbrookdale
Stove/Furnace Model: Darby

PostBy: LsFarm On: Mon Apr 23, 2007 8:17 am

Hello Charlie. Sorry to hear about the tendon issues. Best I've found to speed healing is to freeze [almost] the area, then heat, then re-freeze. I have had tendonitis in both elbows, it is very painfull. DON'T go for the coritsone shot in the tendon, this resulted in three days on strong painkillers for me!!

What works is either one of the blue frozen-chemical packs or ice packs frozen in a curve to fit around the elbow. Put the ice pack over or around an empty soda can and put in your freezer.

Put a damp washcloth between the icepack and the skin, to prevent skin damage. Freeze the elbow for about 20-30 minutes [while watching TV or reading works for me] The let 'thaw' or use a low heat pad for 20 min or so. then repeat. This therapy will return me to pain free opperations in 2-3 days. MUCH better than any other therapy or drugs I've tried.

As for heating with wood, the problem is the creosote and moisture in the wood wants to condense on any surface lower than about 250*. In a boiler the heated surface is rarely warmer than 180*, so creosote builds up on the surfaces as well as in the chimney. If the wood is burned in a high tech gassification boiler the situation is not as bad but still there.

I'll attach a photo of my home and building complex. Way too much for me, but it came with the acreage and lake. So I bought into maintaining and updating an old 1849, 1880, 1920 and 1950's house and barns.

What else would I do with my 'spare time' ?? :lol: :lol: :( :(

greg L

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This is an old photo, probably from 1998, I have since made many major improvements. New steel roof on barn, reroof the house, new roof on 'boiler building' [far right side above the garden].
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West side of Hodge Podge MoneyPit. Over 150 years of different additions. This photo was taken around 2001, the new roof sturcture and front window are done.
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This roof structure was from 1849, had two layers of CedarShakes covered by 3 layers of asphalt shingles!! Newest top layer was from 1962. I raised the walls to match the eves and peaks, changed the front window
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LsFarm
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: Axeman Anderson 260
Hand Fed Coal Boiler: Self-built 'Big Bertha' SS Boiler
Baseburners & Antiques: Keystone 11, Art Garland