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Why didn't my fireplace insert save me money last winter?

Posted by ggailbo (My Page) on
Wed, Jun 25, 08 at 6:23

I'm stumped as to why this happened. Would love any thoughts others might have and their experiences.

Last summer I researched fireplace inserts to make my regular fireplace with glass doors more energy efficient. I had heard that fireplace inserts would be a good choice for this situation because I didn't have room, nor did I want a wood stove inserted into the fireplace. I still wanted it to look like a fireplace. So I bought a Hampton...the large unit to hear my 1600 square foot house. Note, that the two upstairs bedrooms are closed off 99% of the time since I live alone.

I went through 3-4 cords of wood. I bought 3 of them and had some to start with, almost a cord. I kept the thermostat on 55 or less 95% of the time, wanting to heat mainly with the wood and I kept the stove on all the time since I work from home and could feed it.

I tallied my savings last week. In the 2006 winter, I used 605 gallons of oil...without a fireplace insert.

In the 2007 winter, I used 600 gallons of oil plus 3-4 cords of wood plus I made the investment in the insert. What went wrong with this strategy to save me money? I'm at a loss...literally :).

My only thought is that I got green wood all winter even though they "claimed" it was seasoned...because I read that green wood loses it's energy(heat) just trying to burn it so you get little benefit in the room you're trying to heat.

Any thoughts appreciated.

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: Why didn't my fireplace insert save me money last winter?

ggailbo: Does your insert have the blower fans installed on it and if "yes" are they operational?

I'm looking at a Jotul C550 Fireplace Wood Insert and have been trying to get some feedback on its performance. I was hoping (as you were) that it would/will reduce my oil consumption and justify the expense of the insert, wood, etc...


RE: Why didn't my fireplace insert save me money last winter?

How hot was the insert? Your surface temp should be between 500 and 600 degrees. If you don't know, get a magnetic ssurface thermometer at the stove shop.
Do you use oil for hot water too? Most of your oil consumption can come from that alone. If you do use oil for hot water, turn down the heater to 120 degrees. You would be surprised at the savings.

Get your wood NOW!!!!!!! Stack it so air can circulate. And ask for hardwood. Maple, oak, beech, etc. No pine or softwoods. That makes a BIG difference. You can go through 5 cords of softwoods or 3 cords of hardwoods in the same season. And hardwoods burn hotter.

RE: Why didn't my fireplace insert save me money last winter?

Thanks for your responses. Here are answers.

Yes, I have a blower too and it works just fine...and it's needed so if you get the insert, get the blower too.

Yes, my hot water is heated by oil as well. I have already turned it down and I will also insulate it before the cold weather comes. I'm also going to insulate my pipes this winter. I've been actually turning off my burner switch until an hour before I need hot water so I don't have to listen to it come on for no good reason.

I don't know about the surface temperature. That is something I will check next time it's on.

And lastly, I have already bought my wood and two cords are stacked. I have one more coming. It is a mix of hardwood. I think the wood I had last year, especially later in the season, was green... and that was my problem.

RE: Why didn't my fireplace insert save me money last winter?

Has your insert save you anything in the years since 2008? I have the large Regency insert, burn about 5 cords a year, and save about 600 gallons of oil a year. What i don't understand is how you use 600 gallons of oil for only hot water. I have a SuperStor tank and a Weil McLain cold start furnace that runs only when the SuperStor water temp drops. I cut my oil use from 850 gallons a year to about 200.

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