Jan 20, 2014
Tough Winters Mean a Tough Heating Bill
The winters in Augusta, Maine can be brutal not only outside, but on one’s monthly heating budget as well. In February 2013, Jacob Michaud had had enough. He and his wife were burning through 200 gallons of fuel oil each month to heat their 3,500 square foot home. At current prices, this translated into a monthly heating bill of $700 or more. The thermostat was set to a modest 69 degrees, with every degree fluctuation translating into serious dollars. Jacob admits that they were hyper-aware of even opening the front door too long or warming the house another degree, in fear of what it would cost them.
Jacob grew up in a house that used traditional oil, with a supplemental wood stove. He was aware of the savings associated with burning wood, but definitely didn’t want the hassle. When several of his friends and co-workers switched to pellet stove heat, Jacob was intrigued. “I would go over to my friend’s house and see how warm and toasty they all were. I kept hearing how much people liked their pellet stoves, and what other people were spending. I did the math, and it really was a logical choice.”
Jacob continues, “I found a great deal on a Magnum Countryside display unit, and did my homework. I called American Energy Systems and the heating technician knew exactly what I needed to help me get the pellet stove home, installed, and pumping out heat. I can’t speak highly enough about their customer service. This company is personable, very helpful, and their follow-up is impeccable. I know there are other pellet stove manufacturers out there, but I’m certain I wouldn’t get the same level of care and concern I get from the staff at American Energy Systems.”
With this being Jacob’s first year owning and using a pellet stove, he’s experimented with several kinds of wood pellets. He’s found he prefers a quality wood pellet with a 35% soft wood content to generate the most heat in his stove. He’s considering giving corn a try, but is quite happy with the heat he’s getting now. Although he’s only had his stove a few short months, Jacob already estimates it has saved him hundreds of dollars.
His advice for others considering a pellet stove? “Do the math. Spend a few minutes in someone’s home who has a pellet stove, and you’ll understand how much heat is generated for considerably less money. This Magnum Countryside pellet stove is minimal work, but the payoff is big!”
Jun 7, 2013
When Dorothy and Wayne Ross’s fuel bill was nearing $1,000 a month, they knew they couldn’t keep heating their 3,200 square foot home as they had been. Something needed to change. Dorothy started researching her options and came across the idea of the Magnum Countryside Fireplace insert. They decided to remove an existing gas fireplace and replace it with the flex-fuel fireplace that allows them to burn a variety of renewable fuels.
“The heat is incredible,” says Dorothy. “We noticed the savings immediately.” The Ross’s have had their Countryside Fireplace insert for two years now, and feel that it actually paid for itself within the first season. “If you want a clean, energy efficient way to heat, this is definitely the way to go.”
Wood pellets have been the fuel of choice lately, but they’ve also had success with the abundant supply of cherry pits near their Maryland home. “I grew up on heat generated from burning coal, and I’ve had a variety of fireplace and electric heating appliances, but this pellet fireplace is so much warmer and cheaper. The heat is incredible.”
After installing their Countryside insert, friends took notice. “They started asking me about the appliance, if it heats my whole house, and the level of heat it’s able to put out.” After answering their questions and realizing she could help other people save money on heat, Dorothy contacted American Energy Systems about becoming a dealer. She has since sold quite a few pellet stoves and fireplaces to other people, and is really happy to help. “I love the money I save every year, and at the same time, I’m able to do something good for the environment.” Dorothy hopes you’ll explore renewable heat too.
Mar 12, 2013
We want to share one of our customer’s stories with you. Their story addresses their decision to burn wood pellets versus corn at the current rate (2012-13) per bushel, and they are willing to share their experience with you. This family is in the Upper Midwest and owns a Magnum Countryside 3500P.
Last summer when he watched the severe drought sweep across the country, Steve’s mind naturally wandered to our nation’s farmers and their crops. When the rain just didn’t materialize, crops failed and the price of corn steadily rose. By fall it was clear that the price of corn was going to be considerably higher than last year at the same time, so Steve started discussing his best fuel options with his wife.
Four years ago they purchased a Magnum Countryside, and immediately started burning corn. They fell in love with the hot, consistent heat that corn provides. No matter how cold or stormy the harsh Northern winter got outside, corn was able to keep their two-story home on a hill very comfortable. Yet, they bought the stove to save money and they needed to make sensible decisions.
After consulting a farmer, their local supplier of corn, the decided they should switch to wood pellets for the winter. Burning wood pellets would save them a little money, although they really debated whether or not they should just buy corn at the $7.50/bushel price. In the end, they opted to buy a good quality wood pellet with low ash content and give it a try. “He actually told us he wasn’t planning to burn corn in his own stove, so we thought we should strongly consider wood pellets,” says Steve.
The first thing they noticed was less ash in the pan, which was nice. However, wood pellets seemed to create more smoke and ash in the burning area (that just didn’t make it to the ash pan), and they continually fought to keep the glass clean. Eventually, they gave up trying to keep the glass clear and realized burning wood pellets would be a different experience than corn.
While the heat output was sufficient, it wasn’t near as hot as corn. When they usually burned corn in the stove on a level 1 for mild winter days and a level 2 for colder winter days, they had to burn wood pellets in the stove on a minimum of a level 3 to reach the same level of comfort. Higher levels burn through fuel faster, and while they knew they were saving much more than burning propane, they started to doubt wood pellets were actually saving them money from corn.
They report that their biggest struggle with burning wood pellets was an inconsistent flame and pellet build up that just didn’t happen with corn. They had to continually adjust air flow, shut down to clean up all the excess ash, etc. In hindsight, they wished they would have at least mixed wood pellets with shelled corn for a steadier and hotter flame.
It was a good experience burning wood pellets for an entire season, but Steve and his wife now appreciate the benefits of burning clean, dry shelled corn. Furthermore, they are thankful they decided on a flex-fuel appliance that will always give them options; leaving them in control of what they burn.
Do you have a story you’d like to share with us? We’d love to hear from you! Contact us today!
May 3, 2012
Saving money is critical to most Americans and the rising price of oil is very concerning. Where will oil prices go in 2012? What will we be looking at for heating costs in only a few short months? Even though Spring is here and warm temps have us breathing a sigh of relief, we know that another winter will be here before we know it and planning is imperative.
So how much can you save on fuel for a pellet stove?
What is the least expensive fuel to use?
Your fuel costs are often determined by where you live, rather than the fuel itself. Sometimes corn will be less expensive than wood pellets and then the opposite may be the case. For those who grow renewable fuel or have it readily available, it can mean even more cost savings. It is best to determine first what the most reliable fuel source is and then negotiate the best price. Corn is usually the best overall bargain (it burns hotter) and is usually available anywhere in the country. Wood pellets are normally the most convenient, but a variety of renewable fuel centers are springing up around the country making all fuels convenient and available. It is nice to know that companies like American Energy Systems make Stoves that will burn a variety of fuels instead of just Wood Pellets.
You can compare fuel and find out the national averages of each fuel cost. Finding out the best fuel source is a step toward determining the best heating appliance for your home too; get your free guide today.
Apr 28, 2012
Life doesn’t have to be that way inside your own home on cold days. Gail Howell of Hemingway, South Carolina recently wrote about her experience with her new Magnum pellet stove and how much she loves the “warm glow and soft flicker of an open flame.”
Gail is a customer of Alternative Heating Systems and Supply of Coward, SC. She went on to share her appreciation for her new appliance saying, “The gentle summer-like breeze. Ahhh…to be warm inside when it’s cold outside. The much lower electric bill is also very nice. You were right; just add a little corn with the wood pellets, and I’m in short sleeve tees instead of being all bundled up. Love it!”
We love to hear from Magnum customers willing to share their stories. Do you have a story to share? We’d love to hear from you! Make sure you visit American Energy Systems on Facebook: Heating Your Home with Alternative Energy
May 17, 2011
It seems like an easy question to answer, and yet many people still have questions about this popular form of alternative heating fuel.
If you are wondering what wood pellets are or what they’re made out of, check out our article, “Everything You’ve Always Wondered About Wood Pellets”. In this article we explain where the wood comes from, as well as some of the new research being done. We also have a video tutorial to help you select quality wood pellets to burn as fuel.
Jan 6, 2010
You hear so much today about biomass and flex-fuel stoves that are able to burn a variety of renewable fuel sources, but have you ever wondered how wood pellets fit into this mix?
Maybe you are wondering
- What wood pellets are made out of?
- Where the wood comes from?
- Does the formation of wood pellets harm trees or our environment?
Wood Pellets help clean up the decaying of scrap and downed wood that actually helps clean the environment by controlling the combustion of the wood rather than just letting it sit out in the weather and rot.
There is research being done today on numerous agri-fuel waste products such as the distillers grain left over from the production of ethanol, waste from the harvesting of agri-crops and even things like coffee husks, etc.
More agri-fuel waste research? Now, that’s something our kids can cheer about!
Want to know what it will cost you to heat with wood pellets? Here’s a great fuel calculator and fuel comparison chart to help.