Saturday, February 20, 2010

Stand by my Stove

One major cooking disadvantage to a small wood stove is that for the most part only fit one good sized pot or skillet @ a time. Which works if you cooking up a stew or soup or frying up pancakes. Not so much if you have a steamer going with Broccoli, a skillet with pork chops, and a rice pot. As I'm done cooking one item I slide the pot over to the stand to stay warm and start with the next. It's also nice to have a place to lay down a spoon, hot pad, trivets, or sit my bread bucket on while dough raises.
Have also warmed mittens, socks, and yes unders. Hey much like Marilyn Monroes brilliant idea to cool panties in the dog days of August in her freezer, toasty unders in January are the bomb baby.
This mid sixties mod designed stand bought @ a church tag sale for $2, usually sits next to my garden glider with a potted plant & a few candles or solar light during the Summer. Originally it had only the one middle shelf. The top had a series of vertical pencil sized bars. Hubby added some punch metal pieces to the top & very bottom that he scored from work for a few dollars. This Summer I'll scrub off the rust caused by wet boots & spray paint the whole stand black.
Not a bad hack huh?

~~ pelenaka ~~

Monday, February 15, 2010

Pee'd off Pussy

This is a my red headed stepson Hunter.
He's mad.
The sleep with one eye open mad 'cause it's just a matter of time when payback is a ... mad. The only other time when I've seen him this mad was when I started sleeping with his Dad. Then he'd sit on my night stand staring at me in the dim glow of a street light planning his revenge. I won't mention what he use to do in my pantie drawer under our antique cast iron bed.
Besides the dirty looks he demonstrates his extreme displeasure of a cold stove by series of short pitiful yelps as he stares into the window of the stove. As of this week he has also taken to a slow walk around the stove stopping to inspect each leg. Problem solving no doubt. He's a smart kitty. Thought about popping in a few votive candles to give the impression of fire but he'd realize that I was just ranking his tail so to speak. Then I'd have to sleep in tub with the clothes hamper pushed up against the bathroom door. He's found a way to turn the knob & push open the door.
Breaks my heart almost as much as my cold toes.
Reason for not firing up the stove is that we are down to just a fourth of a face cord of wood which we're saving in case of a power outage. Waiting on federal tax return to buy enough to get us though til spring. Mean while DH has been cultivating bartering deals for firewood which will work for next Winter. If by July we don't have a good supply laid in then we'll buy the rest. Firewood in the off season is usually half the cost.

We burn though the almost 5 face words of firewood that took us 3 years to collect. Wish we had been more aggressive with our gathering. Last big score was by DH who bartered labor for almost a face cord of seasoned Apple wood. After burning Maple & Walnut it was a nice change to have wood that throws off decent heat.
Plans are to continue collecting lesser grade wood to burn in the early Fall & late Spring when it's not as cold, save the good wood for deep Winter. And as always work toward what's free.

Here's the low down on the cost of the stove which includes the stove, all piping/chimney, damper, hearth & labor/permits - $1700. Hate to think what it would have been if we hadn't bought items on sale.

Started heating with wood in November so free heat for 3 months has made a dent with both the electric & gas bill. On average for these past 3 months the electric bill has been under $50. Normally it's over $80 so it has been a $120 savings. This January we used 172 kWh less than in 2009. Blower fan on the furnace is a real power hog.

Important to note is that we didn't heat 100% with wood. I don't like to leave a fire burning when I'm not home. Furnace set to kick on @ 50 degrees. That occurred about twice a week for on average 4 hours.

Here's the comparison broken down between this Winter's natural gas bill & last year's.

Both November 2009 & 2008 were under $75. Rule of thumb for us is the heat comes on when the thermometer its the freezing mark & my toes are cold. This year we fired up the wood stove in the evenings until the end of November when it was 24/7.

December 2009 was an adjusted $50.54 after all was said & done with the new gas meter. For 2008 it was $217.14 a savings of $166.60.
Gas bill for January 2010 was $68.57. It’s been a colder than norm Dec/Jan so we did splurge & tee up the water heater a bit . Down side is that one tends to linger in a hot shower which drives up the water bill.
January 2009 gas bill was $242.14.
Total utility savings for January were $161.54.
Overall total savings worked out to $448.14 or the value of the free firewood. About 1/4 of the cost of the stove has been recouped. Not bad but I had hoped @ least half the cost.

On a positive note much like the concept of family meals we have had a real family bonding experience over our wood stove. It's a natural meeting place. Hence the old adage home is where the hearth is.

~~ pelenaka ~~