Today I heard a prediction for $7.00 a gallon gas from an oil analyst talking on the radio. I wasn’t too surprised because I remember hearing a similar prediction for $3.00 gas in 2004. The trend in home heating costs is definitely up, and, as we all learned in grade school science, a body in motion tends to stay in motion.
Along the way, speculators in crude oil futures will take some profits and cause prices to temporarily retreat. This is when consumer complacency usually sets in, and all those plans to do something about next years heating bill quickly evaporate.
This is especially true during the warm summer months. The last thing you want to think about while sipping margaritas in your backyard is next years heating bill. And who could blame you?
But this is absolutely the best time to shop for a pellet stove. As much as shopping for a pellet stove in July goes against human nature, you’ll be one of the savvy shoppers taking advantage of favorable prices resulting from lower summertime demand.
Before you start shopping, you have to figure out which type of alternative fuel you’re going to burn. Although many of the new pellet stoves classified as “Multifuel” can burn corn or wood pellets, there’s a large swing in prices between the two fuels depending on how close you live to the source. The closer you are to the source, the cheaper the fuel becomes.
For instance, if you can’t name the location of the nearest grain elevator or cornfield off the top of your head, wood pellets will probably be easier (and cheaper) to get a hold of. On the other hand, if you can’t drive more than a couple of miles in any direction without passing a corn field, corn would be the obvious choice. For those of you living in the North Central region of the U.S., you have the luxury of choosing between an ample supply of wood pellets or corn depending on which is cheaper.
Once you’ve found a reliable source of cheap fuel, the next step is to pick out an appliance designed to burn the fuel you’ve chosen.
For $2,000 or less, you can choose from a wide variety of stoves and fireplace inserts fueled by wood pellets, corn, or both. A typical 45,000 Btu stove or insert will heat 1,200 square feet of living space. This is sufficient to comfortably heat a ranch style home, modular home, or the main floor of a two story house.
With heating oil prices hovering around $4.00 a gallon, a pellet stove should pay for itself in two heating seasons or less.