With oil prices pushing back towards those all time highs this winter, it might be time to consider investing in wood heat. According to Popular Mechanics, heating by wood costs 1/2 as much as heating by oil (the most commonly used fuel source in New England) and even less than natural gas. And those able to responsibly harvest their own wood can save significantly more in costs.
So, should you jump right into heating with wood stoves? Well, there are certainly pros and cons, from the feeling and ambiance of a good fire, to the work required in chopping and hauling wood inside. Check out this article from the website Houzz. Should you choose to go with a wood stove for heating, whether it be supplemental or your full-time heat source, there are four factors I recommend considering.
- 1. Cost – Cost is always an issue. We all have to pay for our stoves, so we can only buy what we can afford. But don’t let the price tag of a wood stove mislead. There are wood stoves ranging from $1000 to $10,000 and the differences between these stoves is equally broad. For example, an entry-level Rais wood stove, the Mino II lists for $3700. Rais are generally considered a high cost stove and definitely the very highest quality. But there are other costs associated with a $1000 that are not necessary for a Rais stove. For example, the unique design of most Rais stoves allow them to be installed within 6″ inches (from the rear) and 13″ from the side of a combustible surface such as sheet rock. As well, the only need to be mounted on a non-combustible surface such as tempered glass. Most stoves require stone or tile pads and a stone or tile surround to protect the area from heat. What you pay more for with a Rais stove – high performance, clean burning, efficient distribution – you save on other related cost.
- 2. Efficiency – how efficient is your stove? Meaning, how effectively does it burn the maximum potential btu’s of your wood and how thoroughly does it burn the wood. The more efficient it is, the more heat you get out of each piece of wood. Rais stoves burn so thoroughly that they leave only a small amount of ash behind.
- 3. Clean Burning – Look for stoves with low emissions. Many stoves require a catalytic converter to pass EPA standard. The converter requires the electricity, so the stove must be plugged in to operate. If the power goes out, so does your heat source. Well designed stoves, like Rais stoves, don’t need the catalytic converter to pass the EPA standards, so when the power is out, they can still heat. As well, that clean burning leads to a lot less cleaning.
- 4. Ambiance – nothing beats a stove with a large, unobstructed glass door for ambiance. Check out the view on this Rais Rondo.
- Heating your home with wood doesn’t have to be an all or nothing decision. For many of us, regular use of a wood stove is a great supplement to our oil or gas based heat. And for others, oil or gas are great supplements to wood heat. But only one of these options adds to the “hygge” in your home. Hygge is a danish word regarding a feeling created in a home that roughly translates to “coziness”. It’s hard to put a price on that feeling a wood stove or fireplace creates, but one thing is certain, oil and propane furnaces don’t offer that fringe benefit. That’s something I always look for in building projects and products – a dynamic design.