3 Cost Comparisons for Alternative Heating Sources

Alternative Heating Source

Winter has already hit some parts of this country and others are not far behind. With that brings cold weather and the need to heat our homes. Flipping the switch from off to heat, however, is a daunting choice for some folks because of the expense. But with a little investment and a lot of hard work, you can cut your heating bill from 50-100% and have a reliable heat source during power outages. Let me show you how.

1. Heating with a Wood Stove

We purchased our wood stove for $700 ten years ago. Today, the same stove sells for around $1,600. That might be a big investment for some folks, but take into account that it could pay for itself in one season. Also, you can still purchase a used stove for under $1,000. Before installing a woodstove, however, you will want to check with your homeowner’s insurance agent. They will want specific information about the stove for your policy. Our agent came to the house to take pictures for our file to show that it was installed properly.

Wood stoves have many advantages. With a glass front door, you have the beauty of a fire in your living room. You also have a warm spot to go to when you get chilled. But the best part is the cost over the long haul. In ten years of heating with wood, we’ve only bought firewood once. Otherwise, we have been allowed to cut downed trees from other’s property.

Even if you have to purchase your firewood, a cord only costs around $100. All in all, I estimate we’ve saved around $12,000 over a ten-year period by not using our electric radiant heat.

2. Heating with a Pellet Stove

Pellet stoves burn wood pellets. According to Home Depot’s Buying Guide for Wood and Wood Pellet Stoves, “wood pellets typically come from either mills as scrap wood, furniture manufacturers, recycling centers, roadside scraps, nuts, sawdust logging residue or paper packaging plants.” They are dried and pressed into shapes that resemble rabbit food.

A pellet stove looks and costs much the same as a wood-burning stove. A 40-pound bag of pellets runs about $4 in my area and lasts about a day. One source from western New York says they spend about $1,300 per year for wood pellets. Even though it costs a little more than burning wood, some folks prefer the pellet stove because it is cleaner than wood. If this interests you, check with the stove manufacturer.

Some pellet stoves will burn other things like corn, making it advantageous in case of a pellet shortage and cheaper for those who live in a farming community and can buy corn from their neighbor for cheap. However, since a pellet stove requires electricity to run the auger that feeds the pellets and the fan that blows the warm air, you cannot rely on them during a power outage.

3. Heating with a Coal Stove

Not as popular as the wood or wood pellet stoves, the coal stove is still a viable option for those wanting an alternative to the typical electric or fuel heat. You can purchase a coal-burning stove for around $1,000 that will also burn wood. And since the cost of coal is comparable to that of the wood pellets, it is not any more costly.  Like the woodstove, you can purchase a coal stove with a cooking surface on top that makes it a life saver in times of power outages.

Final Thoughts

Some areas of the country have outlawed burning wood and coal due to the emissions. You will want to check with the municipality in which you live before purchasing a stove. Also, you will want to make sure that your stove is properly installed according to the manufacturer’s directions with the proper clearances. If you purchase a used stove without an owner’s manual, check with an authorized woodstove installer or your local fire marshal.

With a little research, you can find all kinds of alternative ways to save money.

How will you be heating your home this Winter? Leave a comment!

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  1. Karen Lange

    We had a wood stove at our previous home. In our present one, we have two fireplaces, which are great when we want to enjoy a fire and for heat when the power goes out. But they are not nearly as efficient as the wood stove. We are hoping to get a wood stove before long. These are great alternatives; thanks for the info!

  2. Jerry

    A lot of individuals in our area (PEI Canada) are heating with outside air heat pumps which also suplly cooling in the summer. They cost about $3500 per unit but electrical costs to run them are less than $50. per month. They are great for homes of 1600 sq ft on one floor. Our winters are quite cold here so a good alternative.

    • Carol J. Alexander

      I had never heard of these, Jerry. Thanks for sharing about them. They would definitely cut down on the monthly cost, but not for those that want to be off grid.

    • Mike

      Jerry go to wholesalesolar.com a photo voltaic panal is now cheaper than ever. For less than 6 months of your electric bill you can end that $50/month. Between the Chinese grants from US govt and funding for companies like bankrupt solendra there is a HUGE over supply of said pannels. Just think you will be paying for those grants all your life in higher taxes as well as your children and grand children take the offset where ever you can get it.

  3. Mike

    I use a hot air solar collecter with a thermal coupler conected to a thermostat that turns on and off a blower. This heats my house during most days in Colorado at 5k feet and over 320 days average sun shine per year. At night a pellet stopve controled with a thermostat on the cheap with dried field corn I grow in about 1/4 acre. My main purpose is to reduce my tax bill to fed and local govts. To many over paid govt employees I just refuse to pay for. Shake down some one else thank you very much.

    • Carol J. Alexander

      Thanks for the ideas, Mike. My sister lives in Denver and she said they’re not allowed to burn wood. Glad to hear you can have alternatives.

    • Mike

      LOL, not even the libs in Denver can out law sunshine, yet.

  4. Nate Fancher

    Ver interesting. Thanks for the article! I wonder though if the maintenance is worth it; especially considering that I’m not in a super cold part of the country. It might end up being a little less than my gas bill, but I’m factoring in the upkeep time, if there is any. Seems like there would be some maintenance for any kind of stove. Would love to know your thoughts.

    • Carol J. Alexander

      Once yearly, we like to do it in the spring, the chimney and flue need cleaned. It takes no more than 30 minutes. Also, we keep an eye on our firebrick and the gaskets. But in 10 years, we’ve never had to replace either one. Of course, hauling and chopping firewood is time consuming but it’s great exercise and gives my husband and boys time together.

    • Mike

      My pellet stove has an ash pan at the bottom to collect said. About once a month I remove it and put the ashes on my compost pile. I clan the glass on the door about once amonth at the same time. The chimney is much smaller and more affordable on a pellet stove and cleanning is the same as Carol’s. My favorite part of using a pellet stove is it can be managed by thermostat and never over heats the house. A wood stove burns untill the fuel is gone and waists a lot of fuel in doing so and I cant sleep over heated. Cutting fire wood requires hours of labor, pick up truck, chain saw, fossel fuel, and maintenace costs of said. We drive ONE vehicle now and the cost savings of that alone from insurance, fuel, repairs, taxes is more than enough to offset the pellet costs. Money management for a family has many factors. Not the least of is what I can produce at home for income with all those man hours not cutting, stakcking, spltting, hauling, wood and all the other chores that go with it. My production time at home generates income in exccess of 20/hr, cash money at point of sale. 20/hr lost to wood heat production, the opportunity costs far exceeds the value of tha production for me.

  5. Mike

    Public education is the FOUNDATION ( Godless ) Socialism in America is built. Public K-12 is a Day Prision for Children for Parents that seek a free ride and willing to feed their children to the govt. And Public college is goint to be any differen? Pa Lease. Open your Bibles and hear what God says about being owed by your neighbor. I think not. The Holey Spirit teaches the same thing to all saved Christians. If you don’t hear the Truth then question your salvation, before its to late. Is this a Christian forum? Then don’t hiss at me for turnning you to God’s word.

  6. Lisa Bertolini

    When we lived in Northern California, in a manufactured home and other years in an apartment, I had to be smart about keeping heating costs low. A trick I used was using the oven late at night. I could cook a roast at 350 degrees for 45 minutes and get the home toasty warm without relying on the heater. Also, having energy efficient curtains to keep the cold from coming through the windows. You can also warm up the living space by using a crock pot for meals. This works best in small spaces.

  7. Florian Gaudreau

    I live in Quebec Canada the people may be warm, but winter temperatures can dip to
    an easy -20. My heating bill was well over $1,200.00 last year for a 900 sq ft house. It would probably be cheaper living in my car! I’m starting to re-insulate the ceilings and installing a Vermont Castings… .hopefully the savings will pay for itself in a couple of years.