I wanted to write a note about an idea for heating. We use a Nestor-Martin as well as a napoleon oil stove to heat. These are very, very efficient. They burn one and a half to three gallons maximum per day and can heat a 2000 square-foot home. They require no electricity in their gravity fed from oil tank. I’ve heated with wood most of my life. (There is nothing like a wood fire.)
To give you an example of how much the world has changed, in the late 70s and 80s as a Boy Scout our troop raised most of our funds from going in the woods felling trees and selling firewood. Nowadays, the Scouts have been watered down to car washes and cupcakes sales. We had professional woodsmen guiding and overseeing us to minimize the danger, but the danger was there nonetheless. We also did paper drives in the late 70s-’80s. When the paper price spiked, everyone in our town was helping us out. We could fill three or four tractor-trailers in a weekend. Unfortunately, this is a sad truth. Baden Powell would be ashamed. Wood does not have a very long storage lifespan before it becomes punky and loses as much of its caloric value.
Heating oil on the other hand is already millions of years old. Even at three gallons a day, a 275 gallon tank will virtually take you through the winter heating season. There is nothing to go wrong and nothing to fail; it’s effectively too simple to fail. The stoves are still manufactured in France and Belgium. To the untrained eye, they look identical to a high-quality enameled woodstove, except that they have a glass store with three mirrors and a burner.
If you were to get sick in the winter and unable to make the constant trips of armloads of wood, this would be a great backup plan, especially if you were traveling and your wife was home alone with your children or an elderly parent.The stoves are not cheap new. However, they can be found on craigslist (CL) often for $100. Mostly they are only found in Pennsylvania or the Pacific Northwest.
Storing heating oil as a tangible is wise indeed. Our heating oil is low sulfur and is so similar to kerosene it can be substituted and even lit with a match. However, the downside is that it has less caloric value than the old number 2 heating oil. But I have also become a fan of Myles Stair, who is a proponent of kerosene– arguably the most useful fuel. This is because it’s jet fuel for lighting, heating, cooking, car fuel, tractor fuel, generator fuel, and a pretty effective solvent.
This doesn’t mention it’s probably got the longest lifespan of any conventional fuel and the highest in purity. I’ve also become a huge fan of Toyostove, but I also monitor kerosene vented heaters. I heat my shop to keep it above freezing for less than a gallon a day for 1000 ft.² This sure beats the multiple trips to feed the woodstove three or four times a day to do the same thing. I don’t know of another liquid fuel heater that’s more efficient than a Toyostove or Monitor (but Monitor went out of business in ’12). I’ve seen these units 35 years old and still working perfectly.
I’ve been playing with the idea of running a Stihl or Makita electric chainsaw off a quiet Honda 3000is generator, as the acoustic signature of a gas chainsaw carries for too far. The rest of the bucking can be done on my 3-point pto driven cordwood saw that’s quiet. And the splitting can be done on my electric Supersplit kinetic log splitter. – J.E.