Posts Tagged ‘wood heat’

One Year Of Heat

December 27, 2010

So, the circle has come around: it’s been one year since the first fire in our wood stove.  And in the end, yes, we used less than one cord of wood— in fact, we have 37 pieces of wood left!  This first cord of wood was super-expensive kiln-dried stuff, costing $300.  A cord of field-dried would be more like $200, and green, even less.  

I’ve also tried to estimate how much electricity we used for “intentional” heat, but this is hard to figure.  Our electricity usage has varied from 16 kWh/day in mid-summer to about 29 in mid-winter.  How much of that difference represents space heaters, though, isn’t clear.  A large percentage (possibly the majority) of our electricity goes to making hot water, a process that takes quite a bit more juice in winter (because [a] the water is much colder coming in, and [b] the standby losses are higher).  Another considerable fraction is for cooking and baking, which we do less of mid-summer.  Also we surely use more lights in the winter, and the clothes dryer probably requires somewhat more in the winter.  On the other hand, the fridge uses more in the summer.  The electric blanket is a winter staple, but uses less than 0.2 kWh daily.

After working through various methods of guesstimating, the best I can say is that we probably used somewhere between 500 and 1,000 kWh of purposeful electric heat.  That translates into $75 to $150 of ‘lectric.

So, all told, we are “heating” the house for an annual cost of somewhere between $275 to $450.

Lastly, after judging that our cord of oak had about 22 million BTU, and doing a little math, I find that our heat was supplied somewhere between 87-93% by wood, and 7-13% by electricity (comparing actual units of heat, rather than the dollars it took to buy those units.)

12 to 1

December 23, 2010

We’re on a short pre-holiday get-away in the White Mountains, just a couple miles from the location in our masthead photo.  It looks like a winter wonderland here.  If any readers are languishing in dreary, muddy, snow-less parts of the northeast at the moment, I suggest altering your plans to come up this way for the Christmas weekend.  It will put you in the spirit of candy icicles and sleigh bells.

With some time to while away I was just reading this month’s Yankee magazine.  There’s an article about dairy farming in Vermont.  The author mentions, parenthetically, that his neighbor (a dairy farmer) has a wood furnace in his cellar, and burns 12 cords of firewood a year.  Fooooo.  I really can’t imagine handling an entire order of magnitude more firewood than we do now.  Just stacking that much would leave me ready to sleep for a year– to say nothing of the sawing and splitting.  Plus I’d need to build an extra house just to store it.  Do any readers burn wood, either as primary or secondary heat?  How much do you go through a winter?

An Embarrassment of Wood

October 16, 2010

We had a surly wind/rain storm here in Maine yesterday, during which a large maple in my friends J. & S.’s backyard cracked itself in two and threatened to crush their neighbor’s house.They had to call professionals to come bring the tree down.

Then when the professionals told them it would be an extra $500 to haul away the wood, they called me to offer a donation.

It worked out well.  I went over for breakfast and watched the guys wielding chainsaws from 50 feet up in a bucket loader. Later our friend D., who has a pickup (and also unlimited energy), shuttled the logs to my house and then proceeded to split while I stacked.  By dusk the majority of the tree had been added to the woodpile.  There’s still a bit more to pick up.

At last year’s burn rate (0.8 cords), I have at least two winter’s worth of wood on the property now, without really even trying.

Meanwhile, current temps:  47º outside, 60º inside.  60, which would surely have felt a bit chill last month, now feels like the new 70.  Sitting here in jeans and a t-shirt, quite comfortable.