Keeping Warm - How are YOU doing it this year?

Mossberg152

Squier-Meister
Jun 13, 2022
102
Lorain, Ohio
Hey there Don, and everyone. Happy Thanksgiving.

I also have a HearthStone wood stove. It has been our only heat for the last 16 years (since we moved into this house). I used to buy logs from the tree service companies, and have a really good pro level chainsaw with a pretty nice splitter. Last few years we have been pretty busy and have just been buying in cut and split firewood. I generally go through 4.5 to 5 cords, but always seem to run really close to the wire come April... So we ordered 6 cords this year. Stacked the nicer stuff up really nice, letting the weather have at it. We have been using up the odd chunks that don't stack so well up until just a few days ago.

We also use one of those 10' x 20' framed carports for our woodshed. The one we get has sides on it and does a nice job of keeping the rain and the snow off the wood so no struggle with plastic sheets or anything to keep the wood covered otherwise. We do have a little dead spot in the attached garage that I use to park my motorcycle in the nice weather (so I can get to it around my wife's vehicle), but in the cold weather I don't ride so the bike goes deep in the garage and that odd space gets used for firewood. I have a couple of pallets on the floor and then stack the wood on that. It will hold about 2/3 or 3/4 of a cord, and this keeps us from going out in the muck to the woodshed (wood tent) too often. When the stack gets down to a couple of day's worth of wood, we pick a day and my son and I fill it up again.

As far as inside the house, we don't utilize any special tricks. We try to keep it above 65, although by morning it is frequently down to 60 in the main room, and bedrooms are cooler than that. We have just gotten used to it and enjoy the bedrooms being cooler (yep, comforters all around!). It keeps the main part of the house pretty nice and is a good focal point for life in the house come winters. Sitting nearer the woodstove to be warmer, or putting on another layer is just the way it is. After the first week or two I can no longer smell the woodsmoke, but my coworkers sometimes mention the smell on me.

We have a 2600 sq ft., ranch, built in 1985. We think the woodstove is original to the house and yes, the soapstone really does get WARM and give off a nice steady heat for hours. We rely on ceiling fans (reversed in winter) to distribute the heat around the house.

For point of reference, I live in northern Ohio, about 5 miles from Lake Erie, so we certainly get cold here and sometimes get the "lake effect snow".

We live outside of the normal range for natural gas, and Propane prices are OBNOXIOUS, although we still have to fill up as our hot water heater is Propane, but that is the only appliance that uses it.

We looked into one of those outdoor wood furnaces a few years ago, but at $10,000 and up to buy one and have it installed, it didn't fit the plans at that time ( or now, as I would bet the price has gone up considerably since then).

We really appreciate the woodburner when the power goes out. The water still works and we have a couple of camping butane singer burners that we can cook on, and oil lamps for light. No need to fuss and "make arrangements" to go be a houseguest somewhere, we just pour a beverage and go on with our lives. I try to consider the work that goes into moving the wood (and cutting/splitting, when I do that part) my exercise and not be inconvenienced by it. I clean my own stove and chimney each year.

Glad to know I am not the only one who does this.

Mossberg
 

Ray Stankewitz

Jammin' in my Music Room
Staff member
Oct 11, 2014
1,140
Central Indiana
We have a natural gas fired "single pipe" steam heat system. The boiler was installed by a hack that did the work for the previous owners then closed up shop. Twelve radiators of various sizes, one shut down because it was not original, being a hydronic radiator. We actually stay a bit too warm for me because the wife takes blood thinners. I need to get a knowledgeable steam guy out from Indianapolis to look at it and try to un-fudge a few of the previous d00d's fudge-ups. Dead of winter is $300 a month, heating, water heater and stove. Summer is more like $25 a month for gas.
 

Lanaka

AKA GhostGuitars
Platinum Supporting Member
Feb 11, 2020
3,308
Honolulu, HI
A cold wave moved in here for Thanksgiving, so it's only 76F right now at 230PM, where normally it would be 84-86F. The predicted low tonight is 69, about 7-8 degrees lower than typical.

Yup, I concur, altho in my valley, the thermos were saying 78-80° during the day, but once sun went behind the Waianae mountains, temps plummeted to 75°, and is already below that at midnite @ 71°F. So I'm expecting 68 to 65° by 530am before the sun start warming things again.

DEFINITELY thick comforter time and most likely staying inside too. The windchill from the gusty breezes is something I can't handle ATM. The gusts are from 35 to 55, pending where ye are, that's in the bottom half of the minimums for tropical storms (39-73mph)! I HOPE that don't portend a storm in our near future! 😱😳🙄
 

lost sailor

Squier-Nut
Oct 7, 2013
581
The Projects
When I came home from Guam, after 15 months there, I spent the night in Honolulu.......there I found 70 degrees in the evening somewhat chilly. However, I was headed for San Francisco so I was in for even colder weather, and wishing it was in the 70's after I got home.
 

duceditor

Squier-Axpert
May 29, 2014
15,864
The Monadnocks, NH USA
I try to consider the work that goes into moving the wood (and cutting/splitting, when I do that part) my exercise and not be inconvenienced by it. I clean my own stove and chimney each year.

Glad to know I am not the only one who does this.

Mossberg

A dear friend's wife could not at all understand my being willing to do the work entailed in using a woodstove.

I had to concur with her. "It is in truth so tiring that I don't even have the time or energy, as you do, to run daily on a treadmill at the gym."

She saw no irony in that.

But then again, when she's daily at the gym, on that treadmill, her mind is free to grow and learn from watching those super-smart ladies on The View. Something I miss out on intoto while doing such as mindless wood carrying and stacking.

Yes, we should realize that there are hidden costs that come with our being so completely and totally un-modern!

:p

-don
 
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TimTheViking

Squier-holic
Feb 13, 2019
2,357
Chesapeake, Virginia
My brother in law has a wood stove installed decades ago. It has a heat exchanger in the flu that has a fan built into it. This obviously grabs heat that's wasted going up the flu. Maybe this is something you can add to get a few more BTUs out of it?
 

duceditor

Squier-Axpert
May 29, 2014
15,864
The Monadnocks, NH USA
My brother in law has a wood stove installed decades ago. It has a heat exchanger in the flu that has a fan built into it. This obviously grabs heat that's wasted going up the flu. Maybe this is something you can add to get a few more BTUs out of it?

It is another possibility. But...

But? Yes.

I woodstove system is just that -- a system.

Part of that system is, or ideally should be, that the amount of air and its temperature going up thru the flu is very carefully balanced. That to create the most efficient system possible. And if that is so then any change in the flow or heat will actually decrease the stove's efficiency.

This, btw, is why woodstoves run best on truly cold days. And only after full temperature is reached.

On many stoves the startup ritual includes time with the air vent fully open (or even the stove's loading door a bit ajar), then the flow is closed down so that most of the burning is not seem emanating from the logs themselves, but is a sort of ripply appearing glow up near the top of the firebox.

The heat of the red coals releases the flammable components of the fuel (wood) and these burn after release, separate from the seeable flames (such as one has in an open fireplace).

When my stove was installed I was a total newbie to all this -- and the seller/installer neither explained it, or, seemingly, cared enough to look for that perfection. If he had than either I'd have been sold a different stove, or the chimney pipe in place from the previous stove would have been replaced with one of smaller diameter.

I, now understanding this, get past it by very carefully working the draft. But if the initial setup was truly "right" it would be less fussy.

This is also why firewood has to be "seasoned" -- generally for an entire year. To get the moisture content, too, just so.

In other words a well setup woodstove is an amazing thing. It is not just a closed metal box containing a fire.

The stove in our (now rented out) cottage is "just so." The amount of heat it creates is awesome. And one load of wood "burns" an entire night.

Cottage woodstove.jpg


Frankly our main house 'stove' is less so. Not the stove itself -- it is a very fine one. But the entire system is less perfect.

In the past I never much cared. But this year I do as we are between forest harvests and "economy", which is related to efficiency, just so much now matters!

Kind of like the "old" rules now rarely anymore taught to children. To eat every last bit of meat off the bone. To waste nothing.
We may now be transitioning back towards such past seen and understood necessities.

For many people grocery shopping week to week shows this. And it also is being realized by more and more people having to heat a home thru a cold winter.

As Dylan sang... "The times they are a changin'."

:)

-don
 
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Mossberg152

Squier-Meister
Jun 13, 2022
102
Lorain, Ohio
Don, I appreciate this comment:

Kind of like the "old" rules now rarely anymore taught to children. To eat every last bit of meat off the bone. To waste nothing.
We may now be transitioning back towards such past seen and understood necessities.

I grew up mostly with my grandparents, and I recall in the late 70's and early 80's when they would go visit their brothers and sisters, it would be an ordeal. There was almost always a meal offered, even if the visit was short, or nowhere a meal time. It took me some time to understand that THAT behavior was the pinnacle of honoring your guest. Those people all grew up right after the depression and EVERYTHING was scarce, but especially food. To offer someone food was the utmost in hospitality... it said, in essence, "we don't have much but what we have, we are willing to share the very best of it with you". My grandparents cooked simply and leftovers were coveted! If it was on your plate, you ate it... NOTHING got scraped off plates into the garbage can. My grandfather had a 6th grade education. At 12 years old, the boys were expected to go get a job, so he did, just as all his brothers did (this was West Virginia in the 30's. He was about the best problem solver I have ever known. I miss him every day.

Your sentiment brings me lots of good memories, Don. Thank you for that. I have tried to pass this on to my boys, but not completely understood or accepted by them. yet.

Mossberg
 

TimTheViking

Squier-holic
Feb 13, 2019
2,357
Chesapeake, Virginia
It is another possibility. But...

But? Yes.

I woodstove system is just that -- a system.

Part of that system is, or ideally should be, that the amount of air and its temperature going up thru the flu is very carefully balanced. That to create the most efficient system possible. And if that is so then any change in the flow or heat will actually decrease the stove's efficiency.

This, btw, is why woodstoves run best on truly cold days. And only after full temperature is reached.

On many stoves the startup ritual includes time with the air vent fully open (or even the stove's loading door a bit ajar), then the flow is closed down so that most of the burning is not seem emanating from the logs themselves, but is a sort of ripply appearing glow up near the top of the firebox.

The heat of the red coals releases the flammable components of the fuel (wood) and these burn after release, separate from the seeable flames (such as one has in an open fireplace).

When my stove was installed I was a total newbie to all this -- and the seller/installer neither explained it, or, seemingly, cared enough to look for that perfection. If he had than either I'd have been sold a different stove, or the chimney pipe in place from the previous stove would have been replaced with one of smaller diameter.

I, now understanding this, get past it by very carefully working the draft. But if the initial setup was truly "right" it would be less fussy.

This is also why firewood has to be "seasoned" -- generally for an entire year. To get the moisture content, too, just so.

In other words a well setup woodstove is an amazing thing. It is not just a closed metal box containing a fire.

The stove in our (now rented out) cottage is "just so." The amount of heat it creates is awesome. And one load of wood "burns" an entire night.

View attachment 246244


Frankly our main house 'stove' is less so. Not the stove itself -- it is a very fine one. But the entire system is less perfect.

In the past I never much cared. But this year I do as we are between forest harvests and "economy", which is related to efficiency, just so much now matters!

Kind of like the "old" rules now rarely anymore taught to children. To eat every last bit of meat off the bone. To waste nothing.
We may now be transitioning back towards such past seen and understood necessities.

For many people grocery shopping week to week shows this. And it also is being realized by more and more people having to heat a home thru a cold winter.

As Dylan sang... "The times they are a changin'."

:)

-don
"I'll light the fire, you place the flowers in the vase you bought today..."
 

miket1117

Squier-holic
Gold Supporting Member
Mar 31, 2018
3,180
Kansas City
Pretty simple here... natural gas-fired condensing furnace, 92% efficient (which kinda translates to $0.92 of heat for every $1.00 spent on gas). I don't like to be cold indoors, so i have absolutely no qualms about setting the thermostat where i want it...which in this house is around 73 degrees, depending on how cold it is outside.

This house is far better insulated and has less leaky windows than the old place, so lucky in that respect.

In the family room, which is the coldest of the rooms because of the back door to the patio that we regularly open and close for the hounds, we have a gas log set. Pros and cons to that because the heat doesn't really radiate out all that much into the room and it's also a channel for the air inside the house to just go right up the chimney. But, sitting next to it it's nice and cozy.

Natural gas will be more expensive this season, but last year, with keeping the heat up and running that fireplace A LOT, our highest gas bill was about $250... February I think. I'm going on the level pay plan as soon as I pay this month's bill.
 

Nadnitram

Squier-Meister
Jan 1, 2020
390
Ohio
Some of us live where Winters are mild. (This year lucky, lucky you!) Others of us where such are cold -- and where keeping ourselves warm is always at least a bit of a challenge.

This year, though, that challenge is for many great. Eat or heat? -That's the choice some face.

My wife Jan and I live in a home that is both 'rangy' and old. And althought the walls are far more well insulated than they were originally built to be, the very nature of the house by design emphasizes air flow and cooling -- cross ventilation and positioning on a small hill to catch summer breezes.

Built, originally, only for three short season use -- and to be closed up for Winter (as was the outdoor theater facility for which it originally served -- as recreation center and community dining hall). So staying warm here in Winter was never among it strong points. Nor, I suppose, was such ever "cheap" or "easy."
2022, though, is something else again. Pick your reason for it -- "explanations" are many and varied -- heating these days is expensive. And seeing what appeared to be coming (and, alas, has) we took steps to assure that we could hopefully stay both wam and fed.

Here's our approach. Maybe it'll work for others to the extent such is still possible considering the various types of shortages many are experiencing.

When the home was expanded in the early to mid 1980s a "modern" central heating system -- oil fired, forced hot air -- was added. This we renewed when we took up residence in 2002 -- a yet newer burner, a new (and newly placed) fuel tank, etc.

That system works fine -- but at about $6 a gallon such would be almost impossible to fully rely upon. So we turned to the woodstove -- a fine soapstone type we, again, had updated around the same time as the central heat.

We are surrounded by forest which is ours to do with as we wish. But its health is a big part of the decision.

We last had it 'forrested' almost 8 years ago, and are this year burning the very last of the felled trees (taken down for the forest's good). Our forester told us it was still a bit early to harvest again -- next year? The following? - So we had to purchase cut firewood.

That such was going to become scarse was not hard to predict, so we searched long and hard for a goodly quantity and a relatively low cost, and ordered 5 full cords for a very reasonable $250 per cord. (Today, just 6 months later, that has doubled!!! -- and that is if you can find it at all.)

Woodstoves, too, btw, are not easily available. One or two year waiting lists are now the norm.

But, again, scouting about can find one - perhaps 2nd hand.

Our soapstone woodstove is quite efficient, and the heat output is even -- a gift of the thick, heat-retaining, stone that surrounds its cast iron core.

To add to its coverage and efficiency I added two powerful fans -- one on each side -- that transfers the heat deep into the room. And these we made voice activated ("Alex, turn off the woodstove fans") so there is no temptation to open the stove to add fuel with the fans still running -- a spark/fire hazard.


View attachment 246172


I also put small fans in several doorways to move the heat through the home.

View attachment 246173


We keep the stove burning continuously. Wheeling a batch of firewood into the house proper once each day -- leaving it on the rolling cart until the following day, that so it is at room temperature when actually put into the stove.

The central heat is "on" -- but the thermostat set so that it only goes on very occasionally (at least thus far while the night temperature reaches down into the high teens). When it goes lower -- and we do see occasional periods of -10 to -15 f below zero -- that heating system will come on more often and for longer periods. But thus far we have used negligable oil. (The tank is still reading "full" after more than a week since its last filling.

As important is our dressing for coolness -- not the typical "room temperature" of 70f.

How about 55f? Or the bedroom -- furthest from the woodstove -- reaching 48f at night?

I actually have learned to prefer that! Under a thick down comforter.

So much is connected to expectations. And willingness to adjust to "what is." And right now costly fuel "is." (And yes, we still enjoy eating.) :)

What about you? Business as usual? Or have you found ways to adjust to today's hard reality of crazy expensive fuels?

If you have "tricks" please share them!

We also have found ways to control our electric bills. From contracting for fixed lower rates to using such with economy in mind. LED lighting. Only using what we actually need -- and having voice control switching throughout the home to make such simple.

Again. what are you doing? Any secrets to share?

If so I for one would love to hear them!

-don
We had to replace the furnace the Thursday before T-giving. We added a humidifier, so it feels warmer at a lower temp.
 

duceditor

Squier-Axpert
May 29, 2014
15,864
The Monadnocks, NH USA
Kind of like the "old" rules now rarely anymore taught to children. To eat every last bit of meat off the bone. To waste nothing.
We may now be transitioning back towards such past seen and understood necessities.

Your sentiment brings me lots of good memories, Don. Thank you for that. I have tried to pass this on to my boys, but not completely understood or accepted by them. yet.

I was not raised myself with such principles. We were not conspicuously "wasteful," but such was not a focused concern for us.
I did come to see those principles at work, at being "taught" (drummed in, really!) only later, when my involvement in a church group gave me close contact with less secular education and less means. Southerners by birth, 'Old school' in values. Good people that taught me a lot about real life.
Children will absorb some of that in their home, but most f what we become will match the circumstances that surround us. Ease creates less concern than difficulty and want. If things go "boom" -- if the actual value of the dollar replaces its accepted value -- people will, like your W. Virginia relatives who lived through such a time, be forced to learn.

No one actually knows what tomorrow will bring. I do not claim to. But if ones eyes are open then choices made will at least not be totally oblivious o the possibilities.

"Hope for the best" the saying goes, "but prepare for the worst."




"I'll light the fire, you place the flowers in the vase you bought today..."

Hey Tim... "ziiiiiip!" That went completely over my head.

:)

-don
 


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