This winter may have been a mild one, but it still had a steep learning curve as far as heating and winter preparations go.
We moved in May 20th, 2011. We had no idea that you’re supposed to order your winter’s wood as early as February (some even say two years in advance for good seasoned wood). A move is never cheap so purchasing the $825 dollars worth of wood never seemed do-able. We figured we would use up the remaining wood left by the previous owner along with the huge branch that had fallen off of an old Pine beside the house, and then use the propane furnace the majority of the time. It wasn’t ideal, but we were ill-prepared and we would make do.
In October another large portion of the great pine came down. She took out power lines and snapped the hydro pole. We’re grateful that, with one last glance to make sure there were no children or people playing beneath her branches, she leaned hard toward the road and came down with a whisper. The remaining third that remained was headed for our house so we had it taken down for $600, but the agreement was that they take the wood for their own use.
Then we had our insurance guy come for house inspection and he found that the WETT certificate we were provided with at the time of the sale wasn’t even for the current woodstove. It was fraud on the sellers part, but we were on the hook for it because it wasn’t worth taking them to court over. The pipe went through the log wall with barely 2 inches clearance when it needed 16 or 18 inches. So in order to make it safe and insurable we had to fork out another $530 for the repair and new WETT certificate. At least then we could use our stove safely.
That same week we had our second propane delivery of $600. The first one was $400. They come every 6 weeks. We have been trying to use the woodstove as often as possible, but with wet, punky wood and barely seasoned pine, it made it tricky to keep the fire going if you were even able to start it. We used it mainly in the late afternoon until we went to bed and the rest was taken care of with the propane furnace.
Then it was February so it was time to order our huge load of logs for $825 which now sits on our front lawn taunting us. The wood guy still had some seasoned hardwood so we ordered a truckload of that for $100.
All in all, we’ve paid out $1400 for propane which was set at 65* all winter and we have a ways to go before winter lifts.
We’ve spent only $100 for the seasoned wood which may or may not see us through to the end March.
The $825 worth of logs needs to be cut, split and piled so it is seasoned for next winter and we’re hoping it might even see us through two winters, but like I said, the learning curve is steep and we won’t know for sure until we’re there. Our goal is to use wood all the time and only let the furnace kick in overnight and when we’re away.
Oh, but did I mention that our furnace conked out at 2 am this past Saturday morning. It was minus 12. We have been sleeping in the living room in order to be able to keep it going through the night. It is shaping up to be another $400 to repair it, but we won’t know until it is done sometime today.
So we have a yard FULL of wood, but the majority of it won’t help us until next year.
When we lived in town we had a simple gas fireplace which heated the whole house without duct work. It was stifling hot upstairs and cold downstairs. We were on equal billing so we paid $150 per month all year. That is $1800 per year. Two weeks before moving, the blower in it conked out and we had to fork out another $500 for the next owner. Hoping we would be given the same courtesy.
Depending on how long winter hangs on we’re not doing too bad considering this is a bigger house. I think we’ll need heat until the end of April at least. So we’re likely looking at another $400 to $600 for propane and maybe even another load of seasoned wood. Ouch.
I have visions of closing off the large new addition and living in the old cabin during the winters so we don’t have to heat it. It would be a fairly involved job of creating a kitchen in our living room, but I like the idea of a cozy little room where we cook and eat and live just like the settlers did. I am not sure we’ll ever do it.
Either way, we should be better prepared next year. We hope.
Now we just need to buy a chain saw, safety gear, and a saw in hopes of getting that wood cut up before too long. Oh, and Mike needs to learn how to use a chainsaw safely. No biggy. Oh, and rather than getting an income tax return this year, we owe the government $300. We were kind of counting on that imaginary lump of money to cushion us a bit. Not this year, I guess.
Needless to say, winter has drained us financially, mentally and physically, but I guess that’s how it goes when you live through long Ontario winters.
Winters in the north are a little rough and fairly expensive when you don’t know what you’re doing. We are constantly splitting and bringing in more wood, but it is good work and needed exercise. It connects us, ever so slightly, to to people who fell the giants trees that now make our walls. We won’t need a gym membership or to take time to run if we work with the rugged land. I like the idea of life being more basic. Less stuff more life. Using our bodies more and machines less. But it is a fine balance and takes good time management skills. And I won’t lie, I wish was a little more affordable, but everything seems to be a matter of short term pain for long term gain.
Here’s hoping mother nature takes mercy on our bank account.
go gently + be wonderful