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Im going to be building my house in Maine, a 24x28 cape. I was just wondering about a couple things. One; whats the best to heat a house, Oil or wood. Two; would it cost to much to run electric baseboard heat during the day and to run a wood or a pellet stove at night, then to run just oil. Thank you for your time. If you need any more info, just ask.
 

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Since I don't know anything about the relative cost of electricity, pellets, or oil where you live, I can't offer much advice. I would think, though, that electric baseboard heat would be very, very expensive. And I'm not fond of pellet stoves - they don't work when the electricity is out.

You don't mention air conditioning. I lived in Maine for a while (Wiscasset) and recall some hot and humid summers.

I have a log home in Eastern WV that my wife and I built ourselves. It gets nearly as cold here as in ME, just not for as long. Our HVAC is a hybrid system. The backup for the heat pump is a propane furnace. We also have an airtight woodstove and several acres of free wood.
 

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First thing to consider is if you spend the money up front and building a thermally consistent and air tight envelope, then you heating costs will be so greatly reduced that electric heat will be a viable option that won't need much maintenance.

Gas is the most efficient in terms of transistion from fuel state to heat state. Then oil, then wood, then electricity.

Considering you'r in Maine I would have a wood stove for cold winter power outages. But if you utilize a variation of a SIP (structural insulated panel) for your exterior envelope, you can reduce your heating needs to almost nothing.
 

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Last year fuel oil in Massachusetts cost close to $4 per gallon. This is historically quite high, but not likely to drop much any time soon. Natural gas cost about 1/4 per BTU versus oil, unfortunately there is no natural gas on my street, so it is not an option. I installed a wood stove into my fireplace, and we try to use it as much as possible.

I purchased a truckload of green logs (9 full cords) two years ago, and split them. Last year we used about 4 cords, and saved about 600 gallons of fuel oil. The logs cost $100 per cord, how much my splitting time was worth, I leave that to God to decide, but it did take a long time.

Electricity in MA is close to 20 cents per kilowatt hour, making us just about the most expensive in the nation. So overall, down here natural gas is by far the least expensive per BTU, followed by wood or pellets, followed by oil, followed by electric heat. I leave out coal, which although very inexpensive, is rarely used due to the fact that it is dirty, and requires a coal storage room.

In order to decide which is best for you, prepare a table that gives you actual cost per BTU delivered. Divide by the efficiency of the competing systems to give you per BTU cost per available BTU. Then you need to do some comparison of purchase and installation cost, which is trickier, since you need to compare the systems on a per year basis. That may be a job for an economist.
 

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I heated a home in Maine for the first time last winter, with oil.........ouch! However, since you are building rather than buying something, you have the chance to make a huge impact, as has already been mentioned.

I would go with a natural gas boiler if the gas is available. second choice would be oil. That's mostly based on the relative value you get converting the various fuels to heat. I would stay away from propane, wood or electricity if at all possible. I would also think seriously about radiant heating in the floors. If you decide to put in a chimney for wood fires, use a stove instead of a fireplace.

As far as alternative heating during power outages...? Look into a propane whole house generator instead. I personally think the up front cost is worth it if you are worried about the electricity going out.

Lastly, I got the impression from my insurance company that they were not fond of pellet stoves. No idea why, as I don't have one, just something to keep in mind.
 
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