Monday, February 8, 2010

Looking forward to our utility bills

Steve and I wait with avid curiosity for each month's utility bill. Since we (the marital we, of course) installed the wood stove in early November, we've been running it every day, with gleaned wood from Craigslist, windfelled trees in the neighborhood and scrap wood from our friendly lumber and millwork shop.

The woodstove keeps the upper story of the house at a reasonable 61-70 daytime degrees depending on the outside temperature (-10 to 45 degrees has been the range this winter) and the upper room in which it resides gets downright toasty.

Our first gas and electric bill was a big disappointment at $150, but closer inspection indicated that the company had only estimated our useage. The following month was $80, as they had to essentially credit us for overestimating, and in January, despite the average temperature being six degrees lower than last year, we used 50 percent less gas and 15 percent less electricity for a total bill of $112.

As the winter has progressed, I've gradually ratcheted down the nighttime thermostat, which is now at 55 degrees and is really quite tolerable, as long as you spend the first hour or two of the day in the upper room while the woodstove does its thing.

Steve figures that the vast piles of beetle-kill pine in the mountains will be a source of free firewood for several years to come, with pallets and lumberscraps to fill in the BTU gap. Eventually, we may find it hard to scrounge free wood, but I think we will have paid off the investement in the stove by then and will still be coming out ahead of the cost of heating. Not to mention the lovely heat the stove gives off, which makes the depths of winter feel cozy and charming, instead of chilly and frightening. And Maddie's had much fewer nosebleeds since we stopped running the furnace heat so much.

All in all, I think it's been one of the most successful changes we've made to the house. (I love the chickens, but we've spent more on them than we've gotten in eggs, even at $5 a dozen from the free-rangers at our dairy. But as they are half-pets, half-sustainability exercise, I will always cut them slack.)


Aunt T said...

We keep our thermostats (electric) at 55 during the night; but our EB this month was over $400. I guess it's the price we have to pay for "clean" energy; not green energy, just clean.

Sue Sullivan said...

Wow. $400. And 55 degrees at night. And your house doesn't seem like it would have much energy leakage, except maybe for the slider. I can't believe your bill was that high. How frustrating!

Anonymous said...

And we have a quilted cover over the slider. And we put in new energy efficient windows two years ago. So, I can only imagine what our bill would be had we not.

Chile said...

I love wood heat but we're pretty sure it will not be worth the investment for us to put a wood stove in the manufactured house. Our winter temperatures are nowhere nearly as cold as yours so we hope to just adjust to cooler living. I plan to make quilted covers for all of the windows, too, within the next couple of years.