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Wood Burning Stoves

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RE: Wood Burning Stoves: We've had a woodburning stove for more than 10 years and wouldn't trade it for anything.
Our temperatures here in Northeast Texas only get to the teens (usually) for a couple of months in winter; but we never use central heat.  Our home is a 1970's brick ranch style house; approximately 2100sq.ft.  
1) utility bill (our house is all electric) in winter averages around $27.00. One of us lived about 6 miles away until our marriage a year ago, and lived in a very similar house but without a wood-burning stove. Electric bill averaged $198.00.
2) ambiance - our stove has "see-thru" doors; you still get the romance of a fire and on warmer days can leave the doors open - (although this consumes more wood).
1) yes, you do have to purchase wood if you don't have a chainsaw and your own wooded acreage. In general, we usually spend about $60.00/mth on acquiring wood.
(It's not only cheap fun but a good workout to cut your own and stack it!If you don't have acreage of your own, it's usually pretty easy to find someone who is wanting to clear or thin some property they have and is willing to have your help).
2) we have small grandchildren and when they visit we just put up a regular free-standing fireplace screen to keep them from toddling into a "hot" zone. These screens can be purchased cheaply, but if you already have a fire-box, you probably have one anyway.
3) you do get more dust and if you use a blower, over time (about 4-5 years when you need to clean and repaint anyway) you can get a discoloration to your light walls and ceilings.
4) we always keep at least one window "cracked" open about an inch to keep carbon monoxide from building up; ceiling fans help with circulation; and the blower is only used when temperatures drop into the lower teens. The house never drops below the 68-72 degree temperature range we prefer.
5) we keep a decorative cast-iron or  crockery container of water on the top of the wood-burning stove to return moisture into the air. It does have to be refilled almost daily; but by adding vanilla extract or cinnamon or lavender - or your favorite, it doubles as a "pot-pourri" air fragrance.
We highly recomment one. Also, several of our neighbors have "pellet" stoves that they are very happy with - one more alternative to think about!

In the 1980's my husband and I purchased a Victorian house that we had moved. We moved in the house with a lot of work yet to be done. It had 32 windows and that caused lots of drafts. We had insulated the attic and under the floors. We live in the lower south and winters are not very cold so we had electric fan forced air and heat installed, ducts running under the house blowing up from the floors. The high ceilings, using ceiling fans, worked fine for the mostly warm weather we experience. But the few really cold fronts during Dec. and Jan. made us miserable. One winter I had a jug of water partially freeze on the kitchen counter (kitchen faced North).

The heater ran almost constantly, we were still cold and the electric bill was through the roof.

We learned about a company that made a wood burning stove that is external to the house. It was wrapped in stainless steel to weather proof and the fire box was surrounded by a tank holding 100 gallons of water. The water is automatically replenished as needed by a float valve, much like a toilet has.The stove is hooked up to a heat exchanger and water supply much like a car radiator, that is then joined to the duct of the house. The fire heats up the water to 180 degrees, and a pump pumps the water through the line to the heat exchanger and back to the stove. The stove is controlled by a thermostat inside the house, which is wired to the central system's blower motor. At the set temp. the blower is on and blowing air across the 180 degree heat exchanger into the house.

We bought the stove and were warm all winter at a HUGE savings. Electric bill went from $500.00 a month to $90.00 a month. A cord of wood lasted for 2-3 months, most of our winter. We added wood twice a day and there was no danger of fire or extra insurance on a 100 yr. old all wood house. That stove was a lifesaver in more ways than one.

The company was located in Ms. and I can't recall the name but will look into it (see if they're still in business) if anyone is interested.

 :)Re: Woodstoves for heating.  Before you start to set up for a woodstove, find out about house insurance with a woodstove.  Insurance companies are wary of woodstoves.  If you find a company to insure you, do everything you can to install the woodstove according to the specifications.  Call an insurance agent and find out all you can before you do anything.  We heat with a wood furnace that is attached to our furnace heating system.  In our part of the country it is cold in winter and that heat is much more enjoyable and comfortable than just the LP.  Our stove is in the basement so it is on a noncombustible floor and the area around the stove is concrete block.  The insurance agent liked our setup.  My husband also cleans our chimney twice yearly and as needed.  You need to burn wood which is dry so that the wood does not create as much creosote in the chimney.  It also burns better and more evenly when it is dry.  We like our stove setup for convenience and the basement is not our main living area so we don't have the ash and wood debris brought into the living area.  My brother had an airtight stove in his LR, This stove burned only a small amount of wood and could heat a 4 bedroom home.Loading the stove with wood usually produced heat for 8-10 hrs.  That stove also did not produce  much  ash.  I would definitely look into airtight stoves if I were getting another stove.  You will definitely enjoy the warmth of wood heat.  It is work, but cutting wood can be and should be done early.  We try to cut wood a year before we plan to use it.  Then it is split and stacked ready to use.  One good way to get wood that is already dried, is to cut the tops of trees left after logging.  Usually that wood is smaller in size than a whole tree and only needs to be cut.  ANd you can cut in a timber like that for a long time without running out of wood.  Hope this helps and you start enjoying the warmth of wood heat.

I do some of the same things in the house I live in also to save on heat. I live now in an old farm house that needs lots of work (looks good but leaks bad) so it's quite drafty in the winter. We have heat in our living room (propane stove) and the bedrooms feel like a cooler.

I knew there were things you have to do to put in a wood burning stove but really my main concern was the cost of one. Wood would be free because of the area I live in. The only people I know personally that own a wood burning stove live in the city and buy wood so they really just use thiers for looks. I want to use ours for many things. We have almost grown childern so safety isn't one of our big issues as far as them getting burnt.

My Husband grew up with fireplaces only so I know he knows some issues with this kind of heating. We wondered if anyone had any experience with certain kinds of stoves and which brands anyone would recommend.

Thanks so much for answering some of our concerns.

My parents had a wood burning stove, fit into the fire place, at the farm.  It did help keep the house warmer but because the house was so large they still used oil heat. I believe they saved money but since it was only used to suppliment, they didn't save a lot of money.

A friend used only a wood stove a few years back.  He did save money but finding, cutting and using the wood took a lot of time and energy.

Things to consider you can't turn down the heat if it gets too hot.  You must have a fire proof area surronding the stove.  My sister had my brother build a brick wall for the area around her stove. Her bricks were bought cheaply because the manufacture had them left over from another project.  Your chimney area needs cleaned yearly (more often depending on the type of wood and other things you burn).  You must keep water around the stove as it dries out your house otherwise.  You have to learn how to bank the fire so you don't need to restart it every day.  If you have little ones they could get burned so you need a barrier around the stove.  

There are a lot of other factors to consider that I probably forgot.  Your local fire company can probably address these other issues for you.  

Let us know if this helps.  Also if there are any other bits of information that might help.  I lived in Central Pa., around Harrisburg, (as did the others).  I used only oil heat and turned down the thermonstat the furthest it would go at night.  I snuggled under several layers of blankets at night.  Every winter I insulated where I could.  Once we lost power for 3 days and the temperature was below freezing.  Our only heat was a 10,000 BTU Kerosene heater.  None of our pipes froze.  (We kept the cupboard doors open under the sinks.)   At night I used a water bottle and a couple extra blankets.  CSinbad.            


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