Sunday, September 27, 2009

Emergency Heat

I've been working on this for some time. Not in terms of my own labor, but in terms of planning and money allocation. For a few years now, I've been watching the energy legislation move around Washington and knew eventually, heating my home in the winter would become cost prohibitive - especially if the US passes Cap and Trade - which will trickle down as tax on me for everything from heating my home to driving to work. It seems almost unstoppable, and I don't want to be at the mercy of credit - ever. So, we saved the money and did our research and for the time being, this is our new wood stove.

I say "for the time being" because the stove I intended to get is about three times as expensive. I wanted a HearthStone Soap Stone fireplace, but between this little $1000 DutchWest 1000 stove, the $5000 or so for the 8" double wall stainless steel chimney and my tax bill this year, we're just about broke! So, the plan is to use this little steel unit for as long as it's worth or until we can afford the upgrade. I had the pipe all installed for a larger unit so the upgrade will just be the stove itself in the future. In the mean time, that chimney has some serious cold air down draft and I have to preheat the stove with a candle or two before I try putting anything that makes smoke in it.

The only problem I have with the installation is that the hole in our concrete wall that the pipe passes through isn't terribly well sealed. The installation instructions called for a half inch air gap, so that's what the contractor dutifully did. I'll be getting some stove gasket and high temp mastic to seal up some of the gap as it lets a good amount of cool air in around the chimney exit - not something I want on nights we don't run the stove.

Now I just need to get some good clean burning and seasoned hard wood delivered so we have something besides all the dead fall I've been scrounging from our property to burn.

Some project costs: Laying tile myself: $171 for all tile and supplies at Lowes. Retucking carpet around tile: $125 by original installer. Hole drilled in wall by a professional core-driller: $150. Installation labor: $950. Stove and Pipe: around $6500, but we'll get some of that back as we had to pay and pre-order more chimney than necessary to accommodate any complications during installation... hopefully getting $800 or $1000 back. Also, all of this should make us eligible for a $1500 tax credit next year as the stove exceeds EPA efficiency standards. Net cost after rebate and credits: $5396. Seems like a lot, but wood to heat the house each winter now should run us about $150 or so for the whole season. We were paying about that much or double PER MONTH last winter for gas for our forced air system. I am guessing we'll save about $100 -$200 a month, so this should pay for itself in 5 to 10 years and my family stays warm when the power goes out... (that would be the "priceless" part).