Purchasing A Wood Stove Is Smart

By Mark J. Donovan

August 3, 2015 5 min read

The cost of heating your home with oil, propane or electricity continues to rise every year. One way to combat the ever-increasing home heating energy bills is to install a wood stove in your home. Today's new wood stoves can produce an incredible amount of heat with a relatively small footprint, are highly efficient and are aesthetically attractive. Also, unlike fossil fuels, wood is a renewable resource. Moreover, newer EPA-certified models are much more environmentally friendly because of their high level of burning efficiency. Thus, they burn wood better than ever, resulting in less soot and smoke going up the chimney. If you are considering purchasing a wood stove, below is a list of a few key things to keep in mind.

A wood stove is a great backup heating source for those times when the electricity goes out and/or you run out of home heating oil or propane. We frequently lose electricity in New Hampshire for up to several days at a time during the winter months, and even if a home burns oil or propane, electricity is still required for powering the water circulation pumps or heat exchanger fans.

A cord of seasoned hardwood -- a cord measures 8 feet in length, 4 feet in width and 4 feet in height (128 cubic feet) -- produces approximately the same amount of heat as 130 gallons of fuel oil. A cord of seasoned hardwood cut for immediate use varies with supply and location. However, you can expect to pay somewhere between $200 and $350 per cord in New Hampshire at the time of this writing. Oil, on the other hand, costs about $3.50 per gallon. So $3.50/gallon times 130 gallons equals $455. Consequently, even at $350 a cord, you can save 30 percent on home heating costs compared with oil. In addition, if you order the wood green and in long lengths and are willing to cut and season the wood yourself, you can realize even greater cost savings.

Wood stoves come in all different sizes, types and shapes. Wood stove types vary from traditional potbelly wood stoves to ultra-modern chic stoves. They are available as freestanding types, fireplace insert types, corner types or whole-house wood-burning systems. So if you have an old wood-burning fireplace that you rarely use, consider installing a wood stove insert type. Also, wood stoves can be purchased so that wood is fed into them from either the side or the front. In addition, you can purchase wood stoves with or without glass firebox views.

When considering where to place a wood stove, it's all about location. Ideally, put it on a lower-level floor, either in the basement or on the first finished floor. This way, the heat produced by the wood stove can rise and heat multiple levels in the home, thus reducing home energy costs.

When purchasing a wood stove, look for models that have been certified by the Environmental Protection Agency. These types of wood stoves produce much less smoke per hour than old or non-EPA-certified wood stoves. For example, an old wood stove typically produces 15 to 30 grams of smoke per hour, whereas an EPA-certified wood stove only produces 2 to 7 grams per hour.

Also, consider purchasing a wood stove with add-on features, such as those that allow you to hook the wood stove up to water heaters or radiators. Wood stoves can also be purchased with self-loading hoppers, automatic ignition systems, programmable timer settings and remote controls, albeit these features are typically only found in whole-house wood-burning heating systems.

Though the wood stoves of today are built with safety in mind, make sure to locate your wood stove in a safe area of the home with fireproof material on the floor and surrounding walls. Note that there are specific fire codes that need to be adhered to when installing a wood stove. Check with your local building inspector prior to buying a wood stove to understand the installation codes.

Mark J. Donovan's website is at http://www.homeadditionplus.com.

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