# Good test for the boiler with -5°F overnight temperature

**Posted:**January 15, 2012

**Filed under:**Arduino, Homemade Boiler, Testing |

**Tags:**Arduino, Arduino boiler control, auger feed, cheap heating, cost calculations, homemade chip boiler, pellets Leave a comment

I restarted the boiler with a friend on Friday afternoon on the 13th of January. At present it is Sunday morning at 6:45. Thirty nine hours since starting, in that time the temperature has dropped to a low of -5°F which is the current temperature and the fuel usage has been a total of 5 bags. The house is still comfortable and has not shown any dip or problems in maintaining temperature. The only noticeable differences are two things. The lack of the oil fired boiler running which I can hear upstairs and always makes me a little twitchy. The second difference is the temperature of my office. My office is off the utility room which holds the furnace and so is normally quite warm after a cold night. Today it is the temperature the thermostat is set to maintain.

A few numbers, I paid $215/ton for the pellets, so the cost per 40 lb bag is $4.30. The hours per bag is approx. 7.8. This will need a longer time average to confirm but is probably a reasonably good number so in rough terms this is 3 bags per day for a cost of $12.90/day. I looked back to see if I had a furnace run time data which I did have a limited amount. On October 17, 2007 the furnace ran a total of 4.1 hours on a day that had a high of 51 and a low of 33 for a total Heating Degree Day of 22.7. (Heating Degree Days are calculated as (in °F) 65-(day’s max temp-day’s min temp)/2 or to restate 65-average temp) . Taking the furnace run time as 4.1 hours x nozzle rate of 1 gal per hour this translates to 4.1 gals usage for a total cost at $3.85 per gallon of $15.78 for one day relatively mild day. Yesterday’s HDD calculation using a high of 29 and a low of 11 yeilds and average of 20. So 65-20=41. Using a simple ratio of HDD/Furnace Run time would calculate to a furnace run time of 7.4 hours per day for a cost of $28.50 per day. Contrasting this with the pellet costs yields a savings of $15.60 for that one day.

So is that accurate? That was a lot of math using some not very exact calculations. The math was done correctly but Heating Degree Day calculations are notoriously rough. Many oil companies have moved onto more sophisticated methods and of course this is just a snap shot of one day. But as an reality check at this point I am confident 5 tons of pellets would easily get this building through the winter for a total cost of $1075. If I used 800 gals of oil throughout the heating season this would cost me $3080 at a cost of $3.85 per gallon. So yeah I think the numbers are reasonably accurate if not conservative. Wait until I try chips at a cost of $40/ton……too fun.