Pellet Stoves Economics 101

Before deciding to switch heating your from natural gas to pellets do your homework. Pellet stoves are great for area heating, but if you’re considering whole house heating it may not be as economical as you think.

The costs of installation depends on whether you purchase a new or used one. Newer stoves can cost upwards of $2,000 or more compared to a used one which you can easily find under $1000.00. They can be free standing or fireplace inserts, which means they are installed in the fireplace. There is also a version usually installed in the basement that can be operated as a furnace.

The customary method of heating a home is with natural gas. It does less labor intensive because you just light the burner, adjust the thermostat and you’re done. Depending on the setting the furnace turns on and off to regulate the temperature. However, pellet stoves require a bit more work. You’ll need to constantly monitor fuel to maintain the desired heat output. If you don’t add pellets at regular or scheduled intervals the fuel runs out.

Unless you’re retired or have lots of time on your hands, consider carefully the switch to a pellet stove. In addition time requirements, the average amount of pellets needed per season ranges between three to five tons. This can also add more time to your maintenance sessions.

Other considerations are the size of your home, the length and severity of the winter weather and the temperature you prefer inside the home.

From a cost perspective, a forty pound bag of pellets will cost about $3.50. Just like coal furnaces, it is usually more economical to buy pellets in bulk, which may reduce the cost to around $3.25 per bag. As an example of costs, let’s assume you use 4 tons of pellets during the heating season. That translates into 8,000 pounds of pellets at price of $3.50 per bag. The costs for heating would be about $700.00, not including delivery charges and taxes.

Depending on your choice of pellets this number could vary. To make it more accurate try to imitates the exact scenario as close as possible. Compare these costs to the prior years heating bill. Select the bills corresponding to late September through May. Peak heating months are generally late November, December, January and February. So include calculations for the other months as well.

This should give you a rough estimate of the cost difference between heating with pellets versus natural gas. You’ll have to add some specifics for your region, your lifestyle and factors like those mentioned above, but all we’re looking for is a rough estimate. Your utility company provides annual gas and electric usage comparisons, which may help in your estimations.

Now you look at side by side costs and you should be able to determine if this is a good investment. Be sure to consider installation costs, maintenance and other variables if you also heat, cook and clean with natural gas.

Pellet stoves are quite attractive. The ambiance and aesthetics may outweigh any calculations you’ve made about the economy of pellet stoves. That is an individual choice that you give weight to based on your preferences.

You could also restrict your pellet stove to heating certain zones in your home. But again consider the impact if you supplement with natural gas. Regardless of your calculations the most difficult ones to quantify are preference, emotion and desire to enhance your homes beauty and ambiance.