Sunday, May 20, 2007

Goodbye Natural Gas Bill?

This year's home projects in order to save money on our heating bills in the winter is to insulate the home. We're running right now an average of $145/month (budget plan by our provider), which comes out to $1740/yr. During the winter though our home is drafty, so that's why we're focusing on insulating.

Besides insulating, my wife has been wanting to uncover the fireplace that is behind one of our walls. With that in mind, I've been looking at getting a used wood stove for $200-300 and we have plenty of wood available in our area for free, so it could warm up our home a bit. As I've been looking for wood stoves, I came across the idea of a wood furnace.

For those of you that don't know, the way it works is there's a feeding opening at the top where you can slide in huge chunks of wood, allowing you to only feed it once a day. I've seen some that work with hooking directly up to your existing heating system, sending warm air into your heating system. There's also some that utilize water that it heats up and then works along the radiator concept, but within your existing heating system's ductwork. The water can also be used as hot water in your home.

I'm really interested in the ones that utilize water, for one good reason. The reason is being able to call my natural gas company and say "Can you come out and turn off the gas. We don't need you anymore." Due to being in debt right now, we're probably going to take this in stages:
  1. This year, insulate and hopefully get a wood stove for dirt cheap. I suspect this will shave off a few hundred dollars a year from our gas bill.
  2. The money we save from the wood stove and insulation will go into a "wood furnace" fund.
  3. 2 years from now when we have no more credit card debt, we will use our wood furnace fund, a bit extra cash, and buy a mid-range furnace for $3K.
  4. Call the gas company and say we don't need you any more.
I figure the wood furnace will pay for itself in less than a 2 year time period, which I'm planning (God willing) on staying at our current home for a LONG time. I'm estimating it will take about 10 min/day of my time (loading and getting additional wood), which comes out to about 5 hours/month. At current price of $145/month, it's looking like I'd have to be making $29/hr after taxes to not make it worthwhile. That's not including the free upper body workout of lifting wood every day. And that's assuming prices don't go up.

What do you think? Am I nuts?

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