I tend to be too early in most things – yes I paid a fortune for a DVD player when there were also no DVD’s. It has been the same for saving on my oil bill. But while being silly – I am not stupid in that I do learn from my being too early. Here is what I have done (bought and installed every toy out there – wood boiler, wood stoves, pellet stoves, solar water heater, new windows) and now I will tell you what I have learned.
What I missed from the outset was that the best bang for my buck would come not from new sources of heat but from losing less heat. I sort of got that when we replaced at huge cost most of our windows. This was a 5 year project and of course it does help. BUT it is very very expensive.
What I missed is that we should have R50 in the roof. Very simple and compared to windows – very cheap. The contractor comes for a quote this Saturday. We only have R12 now. I will tell you more after he has given me the lowdown. If you have a new house it is best to have R60-80 installed.
The big lesson in all of this is to find the best way to cut consumption. The experts say that we can cut up to 35% of our use of heat by really insulating well. Here is a neat short video made by our own Sara Fraser (no slouch in her own life either as this interview with her will show you as she demos her own solar water heater) of the CBC that tells us more about the opportunity and how inexpensive this can be. Here is the CMHC site that has a lot of information on insulation.
So I have done all of this in reverse. I should have started with simple insulation.
By the way (Link to my own story here) Then link will tell give you a lot of detail on my high efficiency wood stove that heats my entire house. It shows you a lot about the workings and the installation of the pellet stove that we put into our Granny Flat and talks about pellet fuel – all pellets I have found are not the same.
The solar heating is something that I want to give a post too – after 2 years we are just getting this right. I will also post soon on my biggest single failure – my wood boiler. Also later the issue of wood itself – what I am learning abut storing it, using it and selecting it.