top of page

Cost Savings with Pellet Stoves

Pellet stoves can offer great cost savings to consumers. With efficiencies in the 60s and low to mid 70s, however, cost savings compared to fossil fuels may be lower than expected, especially with lower fossil fuel costs in the 2015/16 winter1. But there are a few factors to keep in mind:

First, one of the biggest cost savings comes from only heating part of your house instead of the whole thing. By heating only the space where you spend the most time, you can avoid the energy losses that occur when piping air or water through a potentially leaky venting or pipe system throughout the house.

Second, make sure you are comparing apples to apples. Fossil fuel furnaces can also lose efficiency over time, especially if they are not sized or properly installed. A furnace rated at 80% or 90% may operate below that level and if the distribution system is old or poorly installed your 90% efficient furnace could actually only be delivering 70% of useful heat.

Payback periods are also very dependent on how much you use the stove. If you use your pellet stove 24/7 as your primary heat, and it is displacing an old, inefficient oil burner, payback times can still be in the 4-6 year range, assuming you are burning at least 3-5 tons of pellets per year. If you only burn 1 – 2 tons of pellets, and you still often rely on the old oil burner, payback times will be much longer. The Englander offers the quickest payback on your investment, potentially paying for itself in 2 years. However, it is not as powerful a stove as most of the others, so it does not have the capacity to displace as much fossil fuel as the higher output stoves, which may lead you to use your fossil fuel furnace or boiler even more.

Pellet stoves offer consumers the opportunity to save more than with wood stoves because it is easy to keep the stove running 24/7 and you can often avoid using your fossil fuel heater much more than with a wood stove. Pellet stoves are more likely to be used as a primary or sole heat source, making them a more effective technology to reduce fossil fuel use. In terms of savings, if you procure your own cordwood, it can be very cheap, but if you buy your cordwood, the savings compared to pellet stoves are often minimal.

s1.jpg

Figure 8. The England’s Stove Works 25-PDVC was a solid performer considering its $1,200 price tag, less than a third the cost of some of the other stoves we tested.

Lastly, beware of heating calculators. Most calculators designed and used in the hearth industry use exaggerated efficiency numbers and some don’t even disclose the efficiency numbers they use.

We recommend using this calculator, which allows you to change values easily. Hearth.com used to have a good one. For more information on fuel calculators and which ones to use and avoid, click here.

Value

The six stoves we purchased ranged between $1,200 and $4,500 (see prices here).While the most expensive stove, the Quadra-Fire at $4,500 got overall highest rankings, at $1,200 the Englander is a stand out for value. The Englander may not be the prettiest stove, but it proved to be a solid performer with values comparable to far more expensive stoves in most of the categories we rated. Its burn pot and its glass needs more cleaning than the expensive stoves and it’s a bit less efficient than some, but its reputation as a good stove appears warranted. The next most inexpensive stove, the Ravelli RV80 at just under $3,000 also deserves mention as a good value. In addition to having a sleek European design, it has a very good view of the flame and solid performance numbers.

1See Short-Term Energy and Winter Fuel Outlook. Rep. U.S. Energy Information Administration, 6 Oct. 2015. Web. 23 Oct. 2015.

bottom of page