University of Alaska Fairbanks logo bear University of Alaska Fairbanks

News

  • Monday, May 06, 2019
  • First-Year Heating Fuel Use Data Valuable for Residents

Student researchers with the Alaska Center for Energy and Power set out to develop a sample village heat load by monitoring the 2018 fuel consumption of 12 buildings in the rural community of Tanana. The results of this first year of data reveal variations in home-heating patterns throughout the day and across different seasons, how factors such as the area of the space and the number of household members affect fuel use, and how different behaviors can lead to fuel savings.

Many of the homes in Tanana have dual-source heating options, such as a wood stove and a fuel-oil vented stove (Monitor or Toyostove). Starting a fire in the evening has a significant impact on fuel savings: A comparison of two similar homes found a fuel oil savings of 30 gallons in one month based on this behavior. Across homes, it was found that the day (9 a.m.-5 p.m.) and late night (10 p.m.-6 a.m.) are the highest periods of fuel consumption. Turning down the thermostat or using a setback feature when homeowners are not in the home would be a way to reduce this cost. Much of the data we reviewed confirmed the colloquial knowledge shared by Tanana residents: Fuel use is greatest in the shoulder seasons when cool outdoor temperatures are still too warm to build a wood stove fire. The months of highest average fuel use were November and February, with an average of one gallon of heating fuel burned per day.

 

Baxter Bond and Alana Vilagi install a fuel pump meter on a Toyostove. Photo by Amanda Byrd.