A bit of energy self reliance


central boiler.JPG

Around the end of December we installed a Central Boiler in our backyard (thanks to my father in-law David for help with cement and neighbor Bruce for the cement mixer and his electrician help). We have a lot of standing dead wood around the farm site that we weren't sure what to do with. So we decided to heat our home and water with it.

It's a fun experiment. And I would say with 3 months under our belts- a success.

The Central Boiler heats about 300 gallons of water and has some magic mechanisms for calling up and reducing the flame and so is very wood efficient-- we can go a couple days without needing to add more wood. We have hot water heat in the house and run the wood heated water right through our furnace boiler and a heat exchanger heats the water in our hot water heater. We've:

1) Turned off the electricity to our hot water heater, saving about $60 per month on our electric bills
2) Have hardly used any propane since we fired the stove up around the 1st of January (saving about 1,500 to 2,000 gallons of propane per year)

A conservative estimate is a 3 year payback on the investment. Wow! Plus, I believe it is pretty carbon neutral since the wood was decomposing and releasing its carbon naturally before we burnt it and released the carbon faster. Plus we'll be planting more trees than we use.

Aside-- I can be borderline cruel about conserving energy- like making my kids wash their hands in cold water. Now I'm like "FREE HOT WATER" --take a long hot shower, fill the sink with hot water to wash the dishes, let the kids have warm water hand washes! Makes me smile just to turn on the hot tap. I said this Mike and he says "uhh... yeah it's free except I'm the one cutting and loading all the wood." A small price to pay.


Kathy, just a little bit of info for you. You are now a farmer that means that YOU have to help your husband with the outside work. Also, I know where you can get a chainsaw. I will be purchasing one for myself here in the next week. I am looking so forward to cutting up stuff. I have also learned being a dairy farmers wife is that my husband Jason, will show me how to fix it or do something so next time i can do it all by myself.(we have a large supply of duck tape on our farm, so if it has ducktape on it,you know that the I the farmers wife has fixed it!)

Let me say that I offered to run the chainsaw and Mike said "no way-- you're the breadwinner." Guess he doesn't think I can earn a living without my arms.

And I WANT to work with the wood and do when I have a chance. I've been forbidden to put wood in the stove because Mike has some Zen connection- experiment going on about kinds of wood, size of wood, length of burn time etc... that he thinks I'll mess up. Harrumph!!

I can't resist-- even tho it takes me sooo long to make words with this thing.You guys are sooo good! Sis included! Reading this is better than the TV. Kudos to you on doing things that make sense. My son's inlaws had been doing that very same thing and had arranged the hot water piping to go near the house waste water line. Waa-Laa never a worry about frozen pipes going out of the house even on an open winter.(of course there was some distance between them!!!)

Hurrah for you! Your entry reminds me of our three years living west of Lakefield, MN. We installed a Cozy Heat fireplace, and heated our home, even having to open windows upstairs occasionally. The Cozy Heat's doors are shut tight, with the draft open to the outside air. Our fall and winter entertainment was cutting, or it is 'making' wood. The electric company even came out to change our meter. They must have thought our meter was broken.
Is "Spring" coming? I hope so. Can't wait to uncover my asparagus and plant my potatoes. Needless to say, I missed planting on Good Friday!
P.S. Those chainsaws are dangerous, good idea to leave this fun to Mike.
Love to all of you, Aunt Bev

Thank you for a great post

Interesting post , I'm going to spend more time reading about this subject

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This page contains a single entry by Kathryn Draeger published on April 11, 2008 8:30 AM.

Farm critters... was the previous entry in this blog.

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