Tech Talk

Alternative Energy

“Will I be able to heat my house this winter?”  Indeed, this is the common talk around the office coffee station or the checkouts at the local markets.  All of us have that common need—to stay warm in what  has lately become ever harsher winters.  It has been a heavy burden just filling up a gas tank, with prices hovering at $4.00  per gallon.  Home heating oil has a cash price of $3.43, as of this moment, and we are still in summer.  It will cost $857.00 for 250 gallons of heating oil.  Most homes use approximately 1,000 to 1,300 gallons on the average.  That will cost $4,116.00 at the present price.  Add the gasoline to run our automobiles on top of that, and all the expenses that go into running a home, and we will be working  to just survive!  With these expenses, the holidays will be different…I know they will be in my household.  So what do we do?  Let’s review this, the first article, in my three part series about alternative energy.

Today, we have several alternative energy options.  The oldest, and the one explored this month, is the old fashion wood stove.  Wood is renewable.  Six acres of wood land will deliver many years of useable wood if harvested properly.  Timber must be carefully selected now, in order to allow sister trees to grow after the shady canopy has been removed. There are many pros and cons to harvesting, but suffice it to say that many people enjoy the exercise they get cutting and splitting.  This alternative way to heat has actually been on the rise with the introduction of outdoor wood boilers.  Some townships have ordinances that control the use of outdoor wood boilers.  Check with your town clerk if you wish to venture into wood burning.  Wood burning takes many hours a week to maintain and usually is not practical for most people’s schedules.  There has been talk about banning wood use due to the smoke and gas emitted from the wood as it burns.  With the pressures put on us with oil and gas prices, banning wood may have to go on the back “burner.”

Next month I will be exploring solar power and solar hot water.

For further information about alternative energy, please review my web site at


Steve Martin is the President of Steve Martin Ent Inc .and specializes in HVAC engineering and system design and installation.  He is a specialist in alternative energy options and applications.


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