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.
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 pocketbook 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.
|A soapstone heater by Tulikivi|
Masonry heaters are arguably the best type of wood-burningappliance. They use old-world technology consisting of a large mass of masonry and a series of channels installed inside the appliance that trap heat, then transfer the heat slowly through the 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 construct a masonry heater since he/she has taken specialized training on this unique appliance. There are also pre-made kits available through such companies as Tulikivi, but these need to be built by trained experts. 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 provide needed warmth in a cold area, and since heat rises - the floors above will be heated as well.
|Freestanding stove by Hearthstone|
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, it is a code requirement to have a licensed professional install a wood-burning appliance. The National Fireplace Institute has a list of NFI Certified wood-burning specialists on their website, and the Chimney Safety Institute of America has a searchable database of CSIA Certified Chimney Sweeps.
For more information on fuel cost calculators visit http://www.epa.gov/burnwise/woodstoves.html
Marge Padgitt is a chimney industry veteran, author, and publisher living in Kansas City, Missouri. Visit her website at www.chimkc.com.