Friday, January 15, 2010

Woodstove economics

As I wheelbarrow loads of firewood in from the woodshed all hours of the day and night, I pause to wonder if all this trudging through the snow and freezing temperatures can be worth it.

I got out my receipts book for an analysis of three years of electricity bills. We have three heat pumps to heat the house. The first winter I used the woodstove very little. The second winter a smidgen. This winter I have tried to keep the stove going 24/7, although I have missed a few hours here and there.

Here are my findings:

I estimate that during the four months of the coldest weather (Nov.-Feb.) I save $125 per month with the woodstove. That's $500 each winter. I also save a little on the months on the either side of winter, but I'm throwing that in to the mix. For this savings I have to keep the stove fired up continuously.

But the $500 yearly savings is not the only value of the woodstove. In addition to the heat, I get:

* Much needed cleanup of the woods around the house.
* Plenty of good exercise.
* Time to engage in solving the problems of mankind while cutting, splitting, hauling and stacking wood.

Annie Dillard, author of "Pilgrim at Tinker Creek," says a woodstove warms you twice.

My neighbor utilizes two strategically placed woodstoves in his house. He has not turned on his heat pumps for two winters.

My conclusion has to be that all the muss if worth the fuss. I just have to keep telling myself this as I go out to get a load of wood when the temperature is 11 degrees.

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