Warming the home with woodstove

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By Joey Greenwell


With spring knocking on our door and the temperatures warming up; it may seem like an odd time to write about heating your home. However, for several reasons it is the perfect time.

With the problems we are all facing with the current economy and job market, a lot of wallets took a beating this winter keeping our homes warm. I was able to keep our house warm over the winter for next to nothing.

Many of us in southern Maryland are fortunate to have woodstoves in our homes, but I’m sure the number of homes with alternative heating methods outweighs the wood burners.

Now that its tax time, you should consider the possibility of using some refund money to install a woodstove.

It will more than pay for itself. Most homes nowadays have heat pumps. Some people may like the heat pumps, but if you have ever had oil or wood heat, I personally don’t see why you would like the heat pump.

Heat pumps almost always have a backup heat system such as electric or gas. This is due to the fact that once the outside temperature gets below a certain point the heat pump quits working. So even though you may think your heat pump is efficient, it still pulls a lot of electricity and stops working on really cold days. Natural gas and propane are surely a hot, clean heat but you sure do pay for it.

I’ve had houses with every type of heat and hands down, propane was the most expensive.

I personally love oil heat second only to wood. It’s usually cheaper than gas or propane and if you ever run dry, you can always pour a little diesel fuel in the tank until you can get a delivery of fuel oil. All these heat sources do have one thing in common though…they don’t work when the power is out like wood will.

Wood to me is the miracle heating fuel. And to save money in today’s world, it’s one of the best ways to reduce your household expenses. My home is well insulated and about 1,800 square feet and has two floors.

It usually costs me around $100 to heat my home for a whole year. Not everyone will be able to do this, but here is how I do it. My home had two fireplaces in it when I bought the house, one on each floor. Fireplaces are very poor heat sources because they actually suck warm air out of your house and are difficult to control the burn. They provide a little radiant heat but next to no convection heat.

Several years ago I used my tax return to purchase a woodstove insert and installed it in my upstairs fireplace.

My woodstove, like many new ones is also an energy-star certified appliance so I got a tax credit on the purchase. Just because you’re current home doesn’t have a fireplace or existing woodstove doesn’t mean you can’t add one.

Woodstoves can be installed in just about any house by most home improvement contractors or a competent handyman. There are even woodstoves certified for use in mobile homes. I use about 4 cords of wood per year to heat my house.

A cord is the volume measurement that firewood is bought and sold with. To be a full cord of wood it has to be a stack of wood measuring 4’x4’x8’. If you don’t have the desire or resources to cut and split your own firewood, average prices per cord delivered are $120-$150.

My goal, and I hope the goal of all my readers is to become self-sufficient. Therefore, over the years I have purchased a good chainsaw, log-splitter and have a pickup.

The cost savings of having wood has paid for the saw and splitter over time. Just about every time I check the local online classifieds I see an add or two for someone with a tree that has fallen or is in the way for free as long as you cut it up and haul it.

This along with my own trees is where my wood comes from. But..Once you cut and split your own wood it needs to dry completely or “season” before it will burn. Depending on the thickness of your wood, this typically takes one year. One way to tell your wood is seasoned is to look at the ends and ensure there are small cracks are present. These are called “checking” and tell you that the wood is seasoned. If you do decide to cut and split your own wood, it’s definitely a great workout!

Wood is efficient, renewable and can cost as little as some sweat and sore muscles. You can keep your family warm even when the power is out and cut your dependency of oil/gas. If your wheels are turning about this wonderful heat source hit the internet. There are numerous sites dedicated strictly to wood heat that are much more in depth than this brief intro. So when you get that tax return this year, think about purchasing a woodstove….it’s worth it.


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