Cheapest/Most Efficient way to heat your home? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 22 Old 10-21-2010, 06:55 PM - Thread Starter
 
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We're finally seriously looking at moving to the country to become more self-sufficient!! Right now we're looking at different housing options, and heating options. What do you think is the most efficient and cost-effective way to heat your house? I know in terms of going off grid it would be most likely woodstove, but I've been researching online and most sites say they really aren't all that effective in heating your home?? Wood pellet stoves are another option, but they need to be hooked up to electricity. And they cost about $140/month if you use it everyday in the cold winter months (we have a long winter, we live in AB, Canada). Gas furnaces are expensive. So are electric furnaces. Electricity here lately has been around $.09/kWh. Gas has been $3/GJ.

With those figures, and assuming we could find large enough land with enough trees for firewood, what would be the most efficient way to heat your house? Cheapest?
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#2 of 22 Old 10-21-2010, 10:31 PM
 
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wow, I don't know why woodstoves wouldn't be thought of as effective in heating a home! We heat with wood, we have a Jotul F500. It heats the house so nice we can be running around in t shirt and underwear when it is 0F outside.

Plus, DH harvests all the wood for free during spring summer fall. He just scouts craigslist for people with fallen trees they need removed or similar situation and cuts and brings the wood home.

I think it works out great.

We do have a furnace that we set to about 50degrees just in case we let the fire die down or have to be away for a whole day, the house doesn't freeze.

I just love the wood stove, can't say enough good things about it.
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#3 of 22 Old 10-21-2010, 10:49 PM
 
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The sun
Passive solar design, especially if you are in AB!! That being said I don't know if you are building or already in a house??
We live on the west coast and are building a passive solar cob home, our home will be heated over 50% from the sun and our design alone.
Our heat source beyond that is hydronic floor tubes that are heated by solar hot water 8 months of the year and a boiler the other months.

Mama to SDD (12), DD (8), DD (6), DD, (4), DS (3) and new little babe arriving Dec. We are in the process of building our cob home and homestead
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#4 of 22 Old 10-22-2010, 12:10 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I was confused by what I was reading online about the woodstove too, most people were saying that they're not very efficient in heating your whole home compared to other methods, and that they were a pain due to worrying about chimney fires, making sure you have enough dry/seasoned firewood, and not letting the fire die out when away/sleeping??

We are building, but we're also considering a modular/manufactured home because we want to get on an acreage so bad and it may be the only way we can afford to. Building is just so expensive!! So we could position the house to get as much solar as possible but we may not have full control over the windows to go for full passive solar.
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#5 of 22 Old 10-22-2010, 12:18 AM
 
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There is certainly a rhythm to using wood heat. I'm excited about this year but this will be our 3rd year. The first year it was pretty hard to get used to. That said, we have a 1400 square ft home with pretty good passive solar. It is well insulated and we stay warm all winter! We don't have a furnace, but we do have a small rinnai heater for backup. We pay about 235 for a cord of wood and use about 3-4 cord per season. Not only is it more cost effective for us, we really enjoy the ambiance of the stove. There is NOTHING like it for coziness!! It really warms your soul. Oh and we bought our Morso brand new, which was spendy but it is super efficient, small, and and a pretty goodlookin stove too. Theres nothing like a "Morso Burn"

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#6 of 22 Old 10-22-2010, 02:13 PM
 
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Wood stoves are effective. Especially if you burn the right wood and you home is insulated. The most cost effective way is to build a house with tons of windows that are south facing, letting the maxiumum amount of light in the summer. You could also use a woodstove and hook it up to a converter, allowing the heat to flow through pipes that run under your floor, called radiant flooring.

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#7 of 22 Old 10-22-2010, 02:54 PM
 
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We've been looking at woodstoves as a secondary heat source for our rural home here in SK Canada, and have shopped around quite a bit. We've been told by every dealer to stick to the smallest models because they heat so efficiently. All Canadian stoves have to be certified high efficiency now to be on the market. But I can see how it might be hard to get that heat to circulate through the house. As a pp mentioned, there are options for converters, and fans, to direct the heat to other areas.

Have you looked at geothermal? Lots of people around here have geothermal and swear by it, IF your house is well insulated. You still need an electric system to run it though.
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#8 of 22 Old 10-22-2010, 03:44 PM
 
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We will be moving into our new home shortly, and we will be using an outdoor wood boiler. The wood stove heats water that is run through the house either in the floor (radiant heat) or through copper tubes around the edges of the room, called baseboard heating. We bought a WoodMaster stove. My understanding is that these stoves are very efficient, needing to be filled 2-3 times a day while keeping the home very warm.

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#9 of 22 Old 10-22-2010, 05:13 PM
 
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If you are interested in wood stoves, I would go hang out at the forums of hearth.com for a while.

There is so much confusing information about burning wood out there, but I found that place to be full of people who enjoy heating with wood and like talking and helping people. (Like the people at MDC for parenting. . .)

We did a lot of research, bought a good stove, learned how to properly burn, how to clean the chimeney, ect. and I feel really confident heating with wood.

But it is something you have to learn and understand so you should spend some time reading.

Our stove has a window, and I just love watching the fire. It makes me look forward to winter!!! (And living in Iowa, that's important, our winters are long and dreary)
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#10 of 22 Old 10-22-2010, 05:17 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hibou View Post
We've been looking at woodstoves as a secondary heat source for our rural home here in SK Canada, and have shopped around quite a bit. We've been told by every dealer to stick to the smallest models because they heat so efficiently. All Canadian stoves have to be certified high efficiency now to be on the market. But I can see how it might be hard to get that heat to circulate through the house. As a pp mentioned, there are options for converters, and fans, to direct the heat to other areas.

Have you looked at geothermal? Lots of people around here have geothermal and swear by it, IF your house is well insulated. You still need an electric system to run it though.
I just want to say that i have found this to be completely untrue. We have a small "efficient" stove and a huge cast iron stove. The "efficient" stove that cost twice as much doesnt heat for crap and it eats through wood. My cast iron stove will heat 1000 sf from 40 degrees to 75 degrees in less than an hour. But, I guess id they have to be certified, and this one wouldnt qualify.

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#11 of 22 Old 10-26-2010, 04:34 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by greenmulberry View Post
If you are interested in wood stoves, I would go hang out at the forums of hearth.com for a while.

There is so much confusing information about burning wood out there, but I found that place to be full of people who enjoy heating with wood and like talking and helping people. (Like the people at MDC for parenting. . .)

We did a lot of research, bought a good stove, learned how to properly burn, how to clean the chimeney, ect. and I feel really confident heating with wood.

But it is something you have to learn and understand so you should spend some time reading.

Our stove has a window, and I just love watching the fire. It makes me look forward to winter!!! (And living in Iowa, that's important, our winters are long and dreary)
This, definitely. I figured out the best way to stack the wood so that I stopped having to get up toward the morning (5am, usually) to re-stack the woodstove. With the right stack, I was using one full round 6 " log, two halves and a small pile of thin pieces to heat it up initially. That fire would go from 11pm until 8am, no joke. It was awesome. It had t be stacked just so- even two inches of difference would change it dramatically. Oh, and (this was key) I always chose a round log that was slightly damp from outside for the night burn. We have several months of -35 to -50 here.

Sadly, we have electric heat this winter because we did renovations that necessitate the absence of our woodstove until next year when we can put it in.

Wood heat is the best. I love the smell, the radiance, the flickering sound and of course the mesmerizing fire window. I also found the pace of my day was pleasantly punctuated by keeping the fire going.

If I could, I would also consider a rocket mass heater for rooms that don't get enough heat from the central woodstove, like bedrooms with the thermal mass as the base of the beds. So cozy.

Well, I've been absent for 8 months, and during that time, it turns out that I have completely transformed. You are all precious. Thank you for being here and sharing your lives. You are truly a gift. namaste.gif Jan. 23, 2012

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#12 of 22 Old 10-26-2010, 04:05 PM
 
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Rocket Mass Stoves are a GREAT idea but also have some issues.. SUPER hard to clean and if you are building to code not passable at all! We are laying hydronic tubes in our cob floor this weekend Getting closer to closing the house in ! YAHOO!

Mama to SDD (12), DD (8), DD (6), DD, (4), DS (3) and new little babe arriving Dec. We are in the process of building our cob home and homestead
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#13 of 22 Old 10-26-2010, 06:30 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Adaline'sMama View Post
The most cost effective way is to build a house with tons of windows that are south facing, letting the maxiumum amount of light in the summer.
This is what we did and it's great on days the sun is shining. On sunny days it can get up to about 80 in the house. I've even been known to open the windows just to cool the place down a little.

We also have an outdoor boiler. It's a Central Boiler. We fill it once a day and it doesn't seem to matter if the wood is wet, covered in snow, or whatever else. It works very well. We even use it to heat our pool.

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#14 of 22 Old 10-27-2010, 03:30 AM
 
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I'm surprised no one has mentioned a wood furnace. They can even heat rather large homes. It can run with or without electricity although using it without you will not have a blower.

We had a Charmaster in our last house (3000 square feet) and it worked just fine. We had the oil backup which we just used to help start the fire. The furnance itself also heated our hot water. The furnance was located indoors on the bottom floor in a room we called "the shop." It was so efficient we had to run it in "spring" mode even in winter. LOL.

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#15 of 22 Old 10-27-2010, 03:56 PM
 
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We previously heated exclusively with woodstoves for, oh... 28 yrs. (My dad just had a geothermal heater put in this summer ). They can be effective, however, yes, you will be having to get up and put a log in at 2 or 3 am in order for the house to not be freezing. And depending on the layout of your house, you may need more than one (we have 2). They're awesome when its truely cold out. This time of year (when its 50-75*) they kinda suck, cause' you tend to either freeze or roast... Its really quite hard to get that comfortable inbetween temperature.

And of course, you can't go away for more than a few hours, a whole day at most, or your house *will* be freezing cold when you come home, and then it does take a bit to warm back up.
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#16 of 22 Old 01-06-2011, 08:13 PM
 
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IF you live somewhere that is cold all day, solar is your best bet to cut your bills down.

If you are building, your best bet is to build high efficiecny, with passive solar features, which requires less heat by using thermal mass to store heat during the day, by siting windows south, etc. you can also have a solar hot water radiant system.

If you have an existing house, you can make a solar hot air heater, easy and pretty cheap. the best ones are made of plexiglas thats coated and 2x6's. It uses thermodynamics to move the hot air up and into the house, so there are no moving parts. An even cheaper version uses old cans and black paint, but it doesnt put off as much heat.

This will REALLY offset your heating bills, you wouldnt believe it, but it works. you will still need a primary heat source for nightand bad weather, but depending on climate, size of SHA vent, and usage, the SHa can cut youur bills by half. The plexiglas version is easily scalable and not unattractive. The plans are free online, but I dont recall the link. I can find it if you PM me.

BTW, I design and sell solar Pv and hot water systems for a living, only B2B though, so I know a lot about this topic.
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#17 of 22 Old 01-13-2011, 07:44 AM
 
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If you're building, take a look at masonry stoves, rather than traditional wood stoves.  I don't have one (wish I did), but they can heat your house with very little wood, because the fire heats up the mass of brick/stone that then slowly releases its heat.  They're neato.

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#18 of 22 Old 01-22-2011, 01:32 PM
 
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This is our first winter using a non-vented propane heater.  The unit is small and cost less that $100, and it heats the space very well.  Haven't had a propane bill yet, so I can't help with that information, but the non-vented type is supposed to be very efficient.

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#19 of 22 Old 01-22-2011, 01:40 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Leslianne View Post

This is our first winter using a non-vented propane heater.  The unit is small and cost less that $100, and it heats the space very well.  Haven't had a propane bill yet, so I can't help with that information, but the non-vented type is supposed to be very efficient.



We  have a propane heater, and I hate it! We live in a very small house, no central heating, so no vents. Just the heater. It does heat the house OK, but the propane is outrageously expensive (right now it is $3.65/gal) and not terribly efficient. We use a kerosene heater to heat the entire house. It is warmer than the propane and it is cheaper.

 

My husband would love to put radiant heating under the floors. He says that would be the most cost efficient and warmest way to heat this place.

 

My neighbor really wants to get a pellet stove. I don't know how cost effective they are, but my mother has one, and her house is ridiculously hot in the winter.


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#20 of 22 Old 01-22-2011, 04:42 PM
 
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We're going to get a wood boiler (not sure if that's the same as a wood furnace?) and keep our oil boiler as back up. Supposedly they have really efficient units now. If I could build my own house I would definitely do a passive house so I would hardly have to heat it at all!


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#21 of 22 Old 01-25-2011, 03:29 PM
 
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 Be careful with that non-vented propane heater. We had one, and it put so much moisture into the air that the entire house got moldy. :(

 

We heat with wood with a vintage Godin Petite wood/coal stove. It heats our entire house (about 500-600 sq ft.) with no issues. My husband has permission from several people in the area to cut wood on their land, so the only money cost is the gas to run the chainsaw and haul it all back in the truck. The wood is from downed trees, so he's never cutting down new ones.

 

It's definitely not a method that you can just use mindlessly, though. My husband sets his alarm in the middle of the night to get back up and put wood on, and he has to haul a stack of wood into the house at least twice a day. Not to mention cutting, splitting, loading, unloading, and stacking.

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#22 of 22 Old 01-25-2011, 07:56 PM
 
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We primarily wood heat and are looking for a new home with stove for primary heat. I love it. I think it works well if someone is home often. It makes heating a year round job in harvesting wood and kindling - having well seasoned supplies sure makes fire making and tending a lot easier and not smoky.

It has been my primary heat source for 9 years and I love it - come end of heating season happy to see it go but love the first fire of the year. We heat a large drafty farmhouse with a wood stove from 6 in the morning til 10 at night when we do have oil back up so I can't speak to tending overnight. For us a fan system is crucial but by putting one of our box fans in the upper corner behind the stove area and a small corner fan in the door way to the upstairs the whole house stays toasty. Moving the warm air around is crucial.

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