Would You Consider a Wood Stove?

Continental Small EPA Wood Stove - C1100PL

I’ll admit that a wood stove would look absolutely ridiculous in my house. There’s a reason there’s no fireplace — the living room is properly cottage sized. But at the same time, I do occasionally dream of installing a sweet little wood burning stove somewhere in my abode. The winters north of Boston are shaping up to be just a touch colder than I expected!

Why heat with a wood stove? EPA certified stoves are a lot more efficient than the old school potbellied models that probably come to mind when someone says, “wood burning stove.” The also look a fair bit sleeker, though they are nowhere near as charming. Were I to redo my decor in a less modern style, I could probably incorporate a stove into my living room… and I could probably do it myself, according to this document from Hearth.com.

Am I ready to do something like punch a hole in my house for the purposes of adding more heat? Er, no. If my cozy cottage was a bit more cottage-esque, I’d consider it. For now I’m going to have to stick with my electric space heater for the foreseeable future.

::shiver::

11 Responses to “Would You Consider a Wood Stove?”

  1. Julia December 11, 2007 at 6:30 pm #

    We’re looking to do a green remodel of our house, and we’re considering buying one of the “Rais” line of wood-burning stoves as a back-up heat source. According to their promotional materials (and, obviously, you’d want to verify these claims with an independent source) they’re mega clean-burning and energy efficient. They’re not cheap, but they ARE pretty awesome-looking, and they seem to be sized appropriately for our teeeeeeeeny-tiny house.

  2. Never teh Bride December 12, 2007 at 8:48 am #

    Thanks for the lead on Rais, Julia. It’s interesting–just after I wrote this my mom called to recommend that we get a wood burning stove as a supplementary heat source! Small world…

    And they do look totally sweet!

  3. class-factotum December 13, 2007 at 9:41 am #

    I had a wood stove for two years when I lived in Chile. I will never have one again.

    It casts smoke on the walls, making them filthy. (Yes, there was a chimney to the outside that I had cleaned once a month, but even so.)

    It is difficult to set the fire up to burn all night (important if this is your only heat source): stuffing a stove full of wood only makes it burn hotter, not longer.

    Wood is expensive.

    It’s a pain in the neck to go outside to the woodpile every night.

    And if everyone in the neighborhood has a wood stove, the pollution is nasty. It stinks and it gives you brown snot.

  4. Never teh Bride December 14, 2007 at 8:38 am #

    Good to hear the other side of things, class-factotum. I lived in Costa Rica, where burning of plant matter was the norm…for clearing and disposal, not heat of course. But you could certainly feel the difference on the days where lots and lots of people decided to deal with their excess vegetation!

  5. class-factotum December 14, 2007 at 7:56 pm #

    Bride,

    What were you doing in Costa Rica?

    I forgot to mention that when you make your stove burn hotter by stuffing it with wood, the wet gym clothes that you have hanging next to the chimney on the little stove clothes dryer thingy will catch on fire.

  6. Never teh Bride December 15, 2007 at 9:36 am #

    I lived there for a while, class-factotum. Why? Just because it’s such a lovely country :-)

  7. class-factotum December 16, 2007 at 11:36 am #

    I did like Costa Rica. When I left Chile, I came back to the US over land. It wasn’t until I hit CR until I saw people actually standing in line (as opposed to shoving their way onto the bus or the bank counter). Then I crossed into Nicaragua (do I have my borders right?) and everything turned into chaos again.

  8. La Petite Acadienne December 17, 2007 at 9:46 am #

    We’ll be constructing a house in the spring and will definitely have a wood stove. It won’t, however, be our primary source of heat. However, it’s marvelous to have as a backup source — the heat is better than that of a fireplace, plus you can heat water and cook on it! Fantastic for when the power goes out.

    I wouldn’t recommend it as a primary source, though, as it does need a lot of tending. We’ll have a forced-air wood furnace as our primary source (and a lot of our wood will be kept in the basement, so no nightly trips to the woodpile.) Wood heat can be great, depending on your situation. It’s not for everybody. But acquaintances of mine had an oil leak, which cost them an absurd amount to have cleaned up, so that’s out. My mom has electric baseboards, and I find them to be soooo inefficient.

    Plus we have 25 acres, so the cost of wood isn’t a factor.

  9. Nessie December 17, 2007 at 9:58 am #

    We have a new Godin woodburner and I love, love, love it. It burns clean, it’s compact, and once it’s warmed up, you can leave it on all night. They have a super-sweet ‘petit godin’ and another small burner called the ‘belle epoque’ that fit in the smallest of rooms.

  10. class-factotum December 17, 2007 at 2:42 pm #

    Petite,

    A forced-air furnace in the basement sounds a lot better than a plain old stove in the living room! You don’t have the dirt issue and it might be warm in places further than 18″ from the stove. (It would have helped to have insulation in the walls, too. Who knew one layer of brick wasn’t enough to keep a house warm?)

    If I were building a house from scratch, the South American technology I would use is the calefont, a water heating system that heats your water right before you use it. I think one of the trade names for it in the US is Hot Water on Demand. Anyhow, it’s a small metal box containing tubes for the water and for gas. When you turn on the hot water, the water runs through the pipes over the flames and voila! Hot water! You never run out! Unless, of course, you run out of gas and have to emerge from the shower with soap in your hair to call the gas guy to deliver you another tank.

    As far as heating the house, I will miss my 80-year-old furnace in the basement when I leave this house. I have central forced air heat, but I much prefer the heat from the furnace and the radiators. It seems warmer (wierd, I know) and it’s cozier.

  11. rachel December 19, 2007 at 1:34 pm #

    I have a wood stove and love it. Never had a problem with it getting the walls grimy or anything, the only dirt issue is that sometimes a little ash spills out, but we have some lovely 12″ square tiles around the stove. We hardly ever buy wood, but rely on the trees we’ve had to cut on our property (in danger of falling on our house, cars, or shop) and the huge amount of trees blown down in windstorms. So it’s very cost efficient. Our stove is medium sized, and it’s all we use to heat our house. We have a furnace that we were working on converting to propane (we use propane instead of gas, we’ve converted our gas stove as well) but the furnace kept breaking so we sort of abandoned that idea. Our house isn’t small, but the woodstove pretty much does it all. We have a few small electric radiator style heaters that we stick in bedrooms or whatever for a little extra heat as well. I’ve used wood heat all my life and I can’t imagine living without it. Keeping the fire going overnight or when you’re out of the house isn’t that big of a deal, you just have to load it up with wood and then turn the damper waaaaay down.

    The hot water system you’re talking about class-factotem sounds a lot like what we’re planning to install in the coming year. Well I’m not sure if it works the same way, but we’re getting a tankless hot water heater. It’s a lot more energy efficient since with the traditional kind you’re constantly heating water you aren’t using, then it cools, and needs to be heated again. I’m excited about this new one.