This is part 3 in a series we’re doing on ways to save when you already do all you can! You can read the first two parts in the series here and here and stay tuned for several more installments over the upcoming weeks.
As we go into the fall season, the weather, for most of us anyways, will start to change over to cooler temperatures, and we tend to start going into winter prep mode. At the top of the list is usually preparing for how we will heat our homes and pay for this seasonal expense.
There is a lot of information on the web with tips on how to lower heating costs, but I have found that the majority of it does not apply to our situation. We heat with a wood stove inside our house. Our home is relatively new (7 years in October) and well-built so we don’t have drafts or issues with old windows or doors. However, if you heat with propane, natural gas or electric and have a home old enough to have issues such as these, I know you can find more relevant info for your situation just by doing a quick Google search.
For those who do heat with a wood stove, or for those who are interested in learning more about this type of heat, read on!
In an effort to cut our costs even more extremely, I made a list of all the areas we could focus on and heating our home in winter made it on the list. So part 3 of this series on cutting costs during times of extreme frugality is to find ways to cut down on heating costs.
We heat our small home with a wood stove located by the back door in the kitchen. We have a small acreage with lots of trees so we cut down dead trees or when trees fall across the road and my husband removes them so we can get in and out. This does require us to have a working chainsaw and a truck that can get into the spots to get the wood loaded and back to the house. We spend approximately $150 per year on chainsaw maintenance and gas for it and the truck in order to provide enough wood for our home for the winter.
Our wood stove is a loaner from my brother who wasn’t using it. It is a small stove and has no insulation so it isn’t really efficient. It will only burn for a few hours, and, if wood is not added while it is burning hot, then the fire will die to just coals or go completely out. Our home does get cool at night while we’re sleeping so we have an electric space heater in the living room/kitchen open area that we turn on in the mornings to start heating up the house while we wait for the fire to get burning hot.
If we were extremely cutting expenses, we would vow to not use the electric heater at all. And if we were spending money on quality items in order to save money in the long run, we would replace the inefficient wood stove with an insulated model that would burn all night and keep the house at a more even temperature.
We purposely did not go with an outside wood burning furnace for two reasons: One, we built our house with resources on hand, and we did not have enough money to add in duct work or a central heat or air system, and two, we wanted to be able to heat our home even without electricity as it sometimes goes out in the winter months.
I do plan to cut the use of the space heater as much as possible. I have purchased house slippers for each member of the family, and we all have warm clothes to layer in when we first get up in the morning when the house is cool. Hopefully in the future we can replace the stove with a more efficient insulated model, but not anytime soon.
We may be changing things up this winter by hauling wood from local sawmills for about the same amount as if we cut it ourselves. We can drop off a trailer and they will load it. We pick it up a couple of days later and unload it at home. We will still have to split some of it so it fits in our small stove, but it will be much less manual labor.
The other change to our heating plan we hope to make this fall is by purchasing a thermal regulated fan that will sit on top of the stove and blow when the stove reaches a high temperature. This will allow us to not use the electric fan that is on the stove, especially as it sounds kind of rough and I’m not sure how effective and efficient it is at this point.
Our goals with heating our home are to be able to maintain it ourselves, be able to procure the fuel source ourself or have a local affordable source, and to be able to heat our home without electricity if needed.
By heating with a wood stove, we are able to meet all of these goals and have a very low-cost heating bill for the entire winter.
And if we got really cold, we have two Saint Bernards who like to cuddle (and lots of cats) and would keep us warm at night. But not so great in the summer!
Please post in the comments below your tips for keeping heating costs to a minimum for your home.