Two Years ago I installed a Kerr 2000 Wood Boiler in parallel with my regular oil furnace. Our house is 2,500 square feet and we have a 1,000 square foot Granny Flat attached. Next year I will break even on the costs.
What have I learned since November 2004 and what am I doing about it?
First of all I learned that the Kerr 2000 really struggles to heat 3,500 square feet. Most nights in the hard heating season I would have to do the 3am feed. Now I know what being a mummy is like! With all that demand it was also hard to keep the temperature high enough to prevent creosote build up - we had a chimney fire last spring.
Part of the issue is wood as well - next year we will built a real outside crib - we can store about 5 cord inside now and keep another 3 outside but our site does not have enough ventilation.
Our plan this year is to take the pressure of the one furnace and to move toward a more diverse system. By the way we did the obvious also and insulated the roof and put in new windows everywhere - no point just heating Stratford.
In the Granny Flat we have installed a pellet stove - an Enviro Empress.
This type of stove is great for retro fitting - as they are so efficient nearly all the heat is retained and venting is much safer and simpler than for a conventional wood stove.
Here you can see how the Redclay guys ran the pipe up through 2 roofs. The job took less than a day. We got the stove from Corrigans.
Here you can see the pellets in the hopper at the back of the stove. Pellets come in 40 pound bags that cost about $5.0 each.(Can) At the moment we use a bag every 3 days and we are told we will use a bag a day in Jan - March season. We have already discovered that there are pellets and there are pellets. We now use Eastern Embers - a very high quality pellet that we get from Home Hardware.
There is a major difference between a good pellet and a poor one - so find out in your area what is best.
In the main house, we replaced our old wood stove with a high efficiency EPA stove - a Pacific Super 27.
It can burn all night and also is fan assisted so that in the shoulder seasons - November - December and March - May we will heat the entire house with this. We will use about 3 cords of wood versus 3 tanks of oil. ($450 versus $2,100)
We have also learned that using the big furnace in the shoulder seasons is not a good idea. It does best in the hard cold of Jan - March when we would normally get through 4-5 tanks of oil at $700 a pop! (Between $2,800 and $3,500). Instead we will use 4-5 cords of wood ($600 - $750)
We are in the process of also installing a Solar Water heater. Currently we heat our water by demand off the boiler either oil or wood. In the summer we get through a tank of oil simply heating water. So mover the year our water heating must be about 2 tanks of oil or about $1,400.
In the summer this will heat all our hot water. The pump is run by the small voltaic cell that you can see on the left of the larger panel. In the winter it will take the well water of about 4C up to a middling temperature where the furnace will heat it to standard.
We await a sunny day to fill the system with Glycol and I will keep you posted on how this works. In my next post I will talk about where you can get good help and advice on PEI