Monday, October 14, 2013

Alternative Energy Comparison - Which Energy Savings Alternative Provides the Biggest Bang for the Buck?

It is amazing how much attention some alternative energy products receive from the media and the government. New advances in technology have helped bridge the gap between the expense and the return but how fast are these products really paying off? In particular, how fast is a residential sized system going to start providing a return for you, the consumer?

We at Hawken Energy have long been advocates of clean energy and the savings that come to customers through wood heat. We have also done our best to show how quickly a Hawken outdoor wood furnace will pay for itself, allowing you to save all that extra money. 

To help explain this we have a few comparisons to share. 

Replacement Windows

Anyone who has ever lived in an older home will tell you that windows can be a major source of draft and heat loss in a home. According to, “Replacing old windows with Energy Star qualified windows lowers household energy bills by 7% to 15%.”

That is a fair savings given that a whole home window replacement project can run anywhere from $7,500 to $10,000 or more. Let us say your replacement cost was $8,750. If your annual heating cost was $3,500 (using propane) and you saved 15% per year it would take over 16 years to recover the cost of your new windows at current heating prices. 16 years! By then you’ll probably need new windows again.

Solar PV panels.

Solar panels or photo voltaic (PV) panels are among the more popular energy alternative options available today. In some areas the incentives make the cost of these panels low enough to almost be worth while. If you are in one of these areas, be sure to say thank you to all your neighbors. Some of their tax dollars are helping pay for your PV system.

A 2kW system that meets nearly all the needs of a very energy efficient home could cost up to $20,000 installed. This is before those government incentives if any.  If you are electrical bill runs around $3,000 it will take over 6 years to recover the cost of your new solar panels.

(We see that there are other benefits to solar panels. Here we’re just looking at the time to pay off.)

Wind Turbine Generators.

Just North of us here at Hawken Energy there is a wind farm with massive white towers that can be seen across several counties.  They are surrounded by controversy and some residents argue that they will never really pay off. That is not what we are talking about.

Personal or residential sized wind generators are popular but expensive. A wind energy system large enough to provide most of a households energy can cost about $30,000 to $40,000 installed.  That means a wind energy system will not pay for itself for 6 to 30 years.

CFL Light Bulbs

This is just for fun. 1 CFL light bulb can save about $6 per year in electricity or about $40 over its lifetime. An average home has about 30 fixtures. Annual savings of about $180 pay for the bulbs relatively quickly. Compared to total energy costs this is a low investment and should be an easy choice. We’ll come back to this below. 

Hawken Energy Outdoor Wood Furnaces

An average Hawken Energy customer spends between $3,000 and $4,500 per year to heat their home. Some of our customers spend even more than this heating workshops or businesses.  Heating with firewood, compared with fossil fuels, costs 70% to 80% less. A Hawken outdoor wood furnace can provide 100% of the heat for a home. Most customers see a total return of their investment in just 2 or 3 years. Even when wood is purchased from a local vendor the cost savings are significant.

Compare that to the light bulbs. It would take eleven households to equal the savings of 1 Hawken customer who saves even $2,000 per year, or about 330 CFL light bulbs. It would take 1 household eleven years to see the same savings. 

Wood is abundantly available. And unlike sunshine or wind, you can control it. Wind stalls, the sun sets, but wood only needs you to become the ultimate renewable energy. And with a return on your investment of just 2 or 3 years you’ll be able to enjoy the savings long after your Hawken outdoor furnace has paid for itself.

Every year you are spending money to heat your home. Without a Hawken Energy outdoor furnace, how much money could you be keeping for yourself?

To find out more, contact us 888-564-2876 or visit us on the web at

Posted by Don Squire - Hawken Energy Outdoor Wood Furnaces
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