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mum4boys 09-28-2013 12:19 PM

We moved into our house last year at the start of winter. We had a very mild winter. Our heating bill ran about $600 a month for the winter months. This winter is going to be a lot colder so I expect our bill to be much higher. We keep the heat at 68 degrees when we are home during the day and we use no heat at night ever no matter what the temperature is outside. I cannot lower the heat because there are 5 us living here with autoimmune arthritis. We live in a damp climate and the dampness is just too much on the joints.


So we have a wood stove. We are having some problems with it right now. I wanted to go pellet but it is out of our price range. We need to get a blower. Any tips on what we should buy. We also need to figure out the storage of firewood which we will have to purchase this year also. Next year we will be in better shape as the oldest child has a tree service business and we have access to all the free firewood we need, it just needs to be seasoned. 


We live in a sort of tri level house. Our kitchen opens up to the family room which is about 4 feet below (there is a rail in place) but the rest of the house is literally on the other side, kitchen, dining room, living room. I am not even sure if the heat will reach over there. 

zebra15 09-28-2013 09:01 PM

$600 a month or $600 for the winter for heat?    I've found that its more efficient to keep the utility on constant than turning it on and off (off at night for example).  I have huge summer bills because of AC in the desert.

Poddi 09-29-2013 01:33 AM

How is your house heated?  Electric?  That's very high heating bill for the west coast.  I mean we hardly even have snow.  Yes the dampness makes it feel colder, but perhaps you can try a dehumidifier first? 


Sorry I don't know much about wood stoves.  I'll be watching this thread for tips.

erigeron 09-29-2013 10:17 AM

You might also try posting in the Country Living/OTG forum. I bet more people there have experience with wood stoves. 

stormborn 09-29-2013 10:54 AM

How's the insulation? That makes a BIG difference, and where I live there are organizations that will help you with that. I'm having a hard time picturing your layout; is it sort of a greatroom with rooms off to the side?
Our house is 1300sf with a "bungalow" floorplan, but we've had good results with strategically placed fans to distribute the heat from our woodstove throughout the house.
I second not turning the heat off at night...we have a grandma with RA at home and mornings are the worst for her; she couldn't move out of bed if we didn't crank the heat before she gets up.

sk8boarder15 09-29-2013 07:24 PM

Turning the heat all the way off at night causes your heat to work much harder in the AM. Turn it down just a little bit at night, but not all the way. It takes less energy to maintain 68* then to achieve 68*. 

Satori 09-29-2013 08:15 PM

Can you close off unused areas? Window/door drafts stopped? Curtain off areas not used? We curtained off the living room from the rest of the house and noticed a major difference pretty quick in the rest of the down stairs. Going to curtain off all unused rooms with thermal curtains to close them off. Why pay to heat rooms we rarely use? We only have space heaters unless I can figure out a stealth rocket mass heater lol. Place is plummed for a wood stove but it was taken out years ago. We need to buy an electric dryer and I will put a vent kit on it to recoup the heat. Considering pumping hot used shower water into a 55gal drum to recoop heat from it. Let it help heat the bathroom overnight then drain in the morning. Check forums for tons of ideas.

mum4boys 10-05-2013 04:02 PM

Some clarifications: $600 a month for electric heat. 


The research we have done it is actually myth about keeping your heat on at night:


Lowering your thermostat during times when you need heat less (e.g., when you're asleep or out of the house) is called thermostat setback; the equivalent practice in summertime is thermostat setup. In theory, thermostat setback and setup will almost always save energy, based on the following simple principle of heat transfer: the rate of heat loss (or gain) is primarily a function of the difference in temperature between two objects, such as your house and the surrounding air. In the winter, the colder your house is allowed to get, the slower it loses heat. Although your heater may run for a while during the recovery period when it's bringing the house back up to temperature, you still use less energy than you would keeping the house at a constant temperature around the clock.


Our house is very hard to explain. It is a custom home built in 1974. We love the layout. It works for us. We use every room in the house everyday. So I would not want to curtain off any room. 


We probably need more insulation but it is not going to happen this year. I am trying to figure out the blower for the wood stove but have not been very successful. 

justmama 10-05-2013 05:52 PM

Can you use fans instead of a blower for the wood stove?  It's kinda ghetto but it could work.

mum4boys 10-05-2013 08:57 PM

I do not know...worth a try.

mum4boys 10-05-2013 09:01 PM

I am just not enough to figure out where a wood stove fan attaches at.

justmama 10-06-2013 05:41 PM

Oh I have no idea.  I meant like in front of the wood stove all ghetto-style.

JamieCatheryn 10-06-2013 05:51 PM

Originally Posted by sk8boarder15 View Post

Turning the heat all the way off at night causes your heat to work much harder in the AM. Turn it down just a little bit at night, but not all the way. It takes less energy to maintain 68* then to achieve 68*. 


68? At 68 in winter I feel like I'm dying. Heat less, that will help a lot. If you acclimate to it you'll find 65 is nice and warm, and with a pile of blankets 62 is fine. Is there a woodstove store around you where you can ask experts? Or do you know what brand woodstove you have? Call the manufacturer.


Edit, just read your note about arthritis, perhaps you could lower one degree at a time and see how you fare but that does make it harder.

Poddi 10-06-2013 06:04 PM

A bit OT: how do you know this winter will be colder?  I'm near you and would like to know.

justmama 10-08-2013 06:36 AM

The Old Farmer's Almanac is predicting a really rough winter.

mum4boys 10-08-2013 12:01 PM

Originally Posted by Poddi View Post

A bit OT: how do you know this winter will be colder?  I'm near you and would like to know.

The US Gov has released the weather models for this winter.

We know 68 is the minimum we can go with the heat. We use to keep it at 64 which is just too rough. It is very damp here. So after calling around we found a blower for the stove. It actually has where you can set the temp. We also getting a ton of pressed wood that is all natural and easier to use. It also burns cleaner and does not need to be seasoned.

MaktMama 10-08-2013 01:29 PM

We are also in the northwest. We have a wood stove also, we have two fans that sit on top of the stove. We purchased them at cabelas. They are called Eco-fan. It makes a huge difference. They use no electricity, heat makes the fans work. Worth every penny. Hope this helps. cold.gif

mum4boys 10-08-2013 02:51 PM

I will check out the fans at Cabelas. Do you know how much they run? It looks like it is something that will be nice for when the power is out. 

mum4boys 10-08-2013 02:58 PM

Originally Posted by MaktMama View Post

We are also in the northwest. We have a wood stove also, we have two fans that sit on top of the stove. We purchased them at cabelas. They are called Eco-fan. It makes a huge difference. They use no electricity, heat makes the fans work. Worth every penny. Hope this helps. cold.gif


is this the fan?

melissel 10-08-2013 06:31 PM

Can you cover any of the windows with the plastic sheeting that you blow-dry so that it seals tightly and smoothly? We had to do that in an old apartment of ours where we had a few leaky windows, and we do it in our current house (also built in the late 60s) over the huge vent that leads to the whole-house fan (and the attic). It prevents a lot of heat loss and influx of cold air. 

mum4boys 10-08-2013 06:37 PM

We have brand new triple pane gas Windows, so no heat loss from there.

I need to figure if we can insulate the 3 attics yourself.

MaktMama 10-08-2013 11:25 PM

Yes the link above is the fan. We could not live without it. Worth every penny.

3timesamom 10-09-2013 11:59 AM

WOW! Are you eligible for Heap? Heat costs what it costs and here in the new England area I will say we have harsh cold and snowy winters. We have had winters that cost us about 3,500 and years where we have paid just over 2,000 for oil. That is about 700 a month on a harsher winter. Of course prices fluctuate and that is a huge part of it. We did go ahead and buy a pellet stove. We estimate needing 3 to 4 tons of pellets. We are looking at needing about 960 for the ENTIRE WINTER on a harsh winter. Our home is 2500SQ FT.

FillingMyQuiver 10-09-2013 02:28 PM

You said you have electric heat.  What kind of electric heat?  Is it electric baseboard or a heat pump?


We have a heat pump here and the info you noted about turning off the heat and it using less energy doesn't apply to heat pumps.


In the case of a heat pump, if the temperature at the thermostat is more than 2 degrees less than the "set temperature", the auxiliary heat kicks on.  It costs more to operate the auxiliary heat.

mum4boys 10-10-2013 03:46 PM

It is forced air. It is not a pump or base board but a force air furnace. We have a programmable thermostat. We are not going to use the furnace at all this winter.

No, we do not qualify for any help.

Wildflower 10-21-2013 02:11 PM

We're on all-wood heat too, and I'm looking for tips. So far my best idea is everybody dress warmer, but also be sure to do cooking during colder parts of the day...Our windows are uncovered, too--I wonder if curtains/blinds really do much good? 

tinuviel_k 10-21-2013 09:38 PM

Where is your air intake for your furnace? If it is anywhere near the room with the wood stove you may be able to simply run the fans to circulate the warm air throughout the house without using the heat.

Do you have a gas line to your house? If so, is converting to a gas furnace a possibility? I live in the same region as you, and while my house is smaller we seldom have a combined electric/gas bill over $250, and that is with an electric hot tub. Based on our summer electric bills I'd say we spend $150 or less each month on gas heat in the winter.

kerc 10-22-2013 01:11 AM

Our fireplace insert has a fan made by the same company as the insert. It snaps to the outside of the stove. Try a wood stove store. They might be able to help you. Or call one if you don't have one locally.

mum4boys 10-24-2013 02:31 PM

Our furnace is in our garage so not able to use that to circulate the warm air. I called every wood stove/fire place in two counties. I even emailed. I did not get a call back or email from one. Then I remembered this place where I grew up at. The service guy spent about 45 minutes with us on the phone while we figured out the model number of our wood stove. Not an easy task at all since it is literally bolted in to the fireplace. We were also debating if we needed to hire someone to install it. The parts department was so nice. It is really easy to install. The fan is a little bit expensive but we will be spending our money with this place as they earned us as a customer. 


They other thing we did was figure out our source of fuel. Since we have 4 kids with juvenile arthritis and I have it also, it would be a huge undertaking having to chop and haul wood. We are pretty well sourced for firewood for the next few years but we have to get it seasoned so would not be able to use it this year. I was really not liking this idea very much of having to haul, chop and stock pile wood. After research, we decided to go with Tacoma Firelogs We had used the logs before and were impressed with them. I emailed the company and they help us crunch numbers. It makes more sense for our family to use this all natural logs as we can store it in our garage. We do not need to chop wood or make kindling. It is  a very easy to start and maintain. Plus it is actually cheaper then us buying seasoned firewood. 


After that, I called the electric company. I noticed some numbers were not matching etc. Well, what we figured out is they were still basing our electric use on the little old lady that lived in this house for almost 40 years before we moved in. We have been here a year and our electric use is more then half of what hers was. Of course, we have new windows and new insulation every where so that helps, but I imagine she had the heat turned up to the max. So yes the heat is high in winter but the payments divided over 12 months is half of what they originally quoted us. Right now, we cannot get the payment plans based on our electric use. They use a 2 year comparable. We are okay waiting another year and continuing paying two months at a time.


So our game plan right now is to buy the programmable fan that goes with our wood stove. It is kind of cool (well at least in my book). It is an actual thermostat with the fan. So if you want the room at 74 degrees it will maintain the dampers etc to keep the room at 74 degrees (of course that sounds like a sauna too me but you get the point). We are also going to get a couple of ceiling fans in the family room where the wood stove is located at. We are hoping to do that sooner then later. But you know the old adage when it rains it pours? We got hit by a rock on the freeway and literally as I was saying we need to go get that chip fix, the windshield cracked half way across. Then this morning as I was brushing my teeth, 3 teeth crumbled. So hey we do not need heat for winter. :)

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