General Question

livingchoice's avatar

What's the best setup to save on heat and hot water.

Asked by livingchoice (553points) June 10th, 2011

I’m buying a home and need to replace the boiler and hot water tank. I want to try to save some money on my heating costs so I’ve decided to go with either a wood burning boiler or a wood cook stove. Then I’ll tie in the hot water tank to either option. What’s the best/cost effective way for me to set this up. Keeping in mind placement of the boiler or stove in relation to the water tank located in the basement and how to heat home and get hot water in the warmer months. My home is 851 Sq ft, 2 floors + basement.

Observing members: 0 Composing members: 0

12 Answers

LuckyGuy's avatar

Before you do this.. let’s talk…
Do you have a source of free wood? Can you do the splitting/stacking yourself?
How well insulated is the house now?
What is the weather like? How many Heating Degree Days (HDD) is your heating season?
Are you wiling to put in the effort? Is your wife? Is your wife willing to put up with the mess?
One divorce costs way more than 30 years worth of heat.

If you have to pay for wood, forget it.

JilltheTooth's avatar

Where are you getting your wood? If you don’t have it available on your property, and the means to cut and season it you could have some stunning hidden costs there.
And what @worriedguy says.

livingchoice's avatar

I have a 6.4 acre property with a lot of wood on it. Also I always see free wood come take all on craig’s list. I plan to stack up on all the free wood I can get then use the one on my property last.

My husband and i (I’m a female) will split the wood.
How do I find out how much insulation the home currently have?

livingchoice's avatar

How does knowing the weather, heating degrees days per year help me decide. Shead more light on this. The house is in northeast Pennsylvania.

LuckyGuy's avatar

Great! You will be able to heat with just the drops. You can clean up the mess and heat your house too.

That will tell you how much you can expect to spend on heat per year. Then you can figure out if it is worth changing to a high efficiency wood burner.
You really want to know the total BTUs your house consumes in a year. For example, take a typical home in my area. It consumes 89,000,000 BTU per year for heat. That would be for a 2000 sq ft ranch, well insulated in Western NY. So if that person didn’t heat with wood it would cost $3000 per year. With wood it costs $500 per year because the furnace might kick on occasionally.
Your place is smaller. Assuming the same insulation and assuming you live where I live your heat will be about half of mine. If you live someplace warmer maybe it is less than that. You might only be spending $700 per year on heat now. Get a copy of the bills. . For example, a high efficiency wood burning furnace will run $5000–6000. Not worth it for you. But definitely worth it for the example above.
Make sense?

livingchoice's avatar

Yeah, I did some research into the cost of these things and they are ridiculously expensive. Your answer really helped. Unfortunately I haven’t moved into the home as yet so wont be able to get the previous cost for heating.

Since I have to shell out the $3–4,000 any way for a new boiler, would it make sense then to purchase one that burns both wood and use oil?

FluffyChicken's avatar

take cold showers and bundle up.

LuckyGuy's avatar

Western NY typical has 6500–7000 HDD per season. That is pretty cold. Find that number for your area. It is usually in the weather section in the newspaper or the local weather service has it. I’m sure there must be some place on line too. Maybe you are half of that. I don’t know. If you are, here are some thought starters for you. Keep the existing furnace as backup and install a separate wood burner that does not require power to run. With two units if you lose power you will have the ability to keep your family warm with minimal effort. You will be able to use as much wood as you want, and burn your paper trash. 20 pounds of paper has the same BTU content as a $3.50 gallon of heating oil.
I set my home thermostat to a low level and use wood to keep the temp at a comfortable level. If it starts to get cold inside we throw some logs on the fire. If we go out, the temp drops to the level of the stat and the furnace kicks on. We can go weeks without the furnace ever turning on. Who cares if it is not the latest and greatest. If I only spend $500 per year for heat 85% efficient 90% efficient or 95% only saves me $50 per year max. It is not worth the expense of putting in a new $5000 oil system to save maybe $50 per year.

LuckyGuy's avatar

Get data and then make an informed decision.

livingchoice's avatar

@worriedguy thanks your your informative answers you really helped me out.

LuckyGuy's avatar

You’re welcome.
If you give me a clue where you live, age of house, type of furnace, upgraded or not. I’ll run it through my software and give you an estimate for your heating costs. That should help you if you can’t get the real numbers.

WestRiverrat's avatar

If you can get a gas inline hot water heater, it will lower your hot water bills. I looked into one, but where I live they are not practical.

Answer this question




to answer.

This question is in the General Section. Responses must be helpful and on-topic.

Your answer will be saved while you login or join.

Have a question? Ask Fluther!

What do you know more about?
Knowledge Networking @ Fluther