A good way to cut utility bills during cold weather is to use a wood-fired heating appliance such as a masonry heater, wood-burning stove, or wood-burning fireplace insert. Now is the time to have such an appliance installed before the busy fall season hits hearth stores and chimney sweeps. Some stove manufacturers such as Regency offer summer purchase incentives and rebates.
Today’s modern wood-burning heating appliances are very efficient and clean-burning, unlike their older predecessors. The Environmental Protection Agency regulates wood stove emissions and has strict requirements that stove manufacturers must follow. This is why replacing an older, dirty burning wood stove is good not only for the environment, but good for the pocket book because less wood is needed to produce the same amount of heat as older stoves.
Fuel costs can be significantly less than oil, gas, or electric heating appliances, especially if there is a nearby supply of inexpensive cordwood. For homeowners with their own land and trees, the concept of no cost for fuel other than physical exertion is very attractive. For those wanting to live off-grid, have an emergency heating alternative, or just lower fuel costs, the addition of a wood-burning appliance is a good solution.
|Masonry Heater by HearthMasters|
Masonry heaters are arguably the best type of wood-burning appliance. They use old-world technology which is a series of channels installed inside the appliance that trap heat, then transfer the heat slowly through the mass of masonry. Masonry heaters are large and need to be centrally located for maximum benefit. The Masonry Heater Association of North America recommends that a Certified Heater Mason build a masonry heater since he/she has taken specialized training on this unique appliance. The MHA has more information on these efficient site-built appliances on their website at www.mha-net.org.
|Fireplace insert by Regency|
Fireplace inserts are appliances that are installed inside an existing masonry fireplace. They use a small stainless steel flue liner and can be used either with or without a blower. By installing a new EPA approved efficient wood-burning fireplace insert the fireplace efficiency will be increased by approximately 75%.
Freestanding wood-burning stoves are also very efficient and clean–burning. They work by emitting radiant and convective heat, and are best situated in a central location in the home. A stove can be installed in any room with the proper floor and wall protection. A wood stove installed in a basement can provided needed warmth in a cold area, and since heat rises - the floors above will be heated as well.
As far as chimneys go, a Class A stainless steel chimney can be used to vent gasses, or an existing masonry chimney may be used with a stainless steel liner installed. A professional installer will know which type of flue liner or chimney to use with a particular appliance.
The Midwest Chimney Safety Council suggests hiring a professional to do any type of wood-fueled appliance installation. In some areas, such as the greater Kansas City area, it is a code requirement to have a licensed professional install a wood-burning appliance.
For more information on fuel cost calculators visit http://www.epa.gov/burnwise/woodstoves.html
Marge Padgitt is the CEO of HearthMasters, Inc. in Independence, MO www.chimkc.com