Winter Heating Options: Wood-Burning Stoves, Wood-Pellet Stoves and Fireplaces

Learn what you need to know about these winter heating options, includes pros and cons on wood-burning stoves, wood-pellet stoves and fireplaces.
November/December 2003
http://www.motherearthliving.com/healthy-home/home-products/winter-heating-options-zmaz03ndzgoe.aspx
These winter heating options give you a number of choices to keep your homestead warm.


Photo By Mother Earth Living staff

Choose from these winter heating options to find what best suits your homestead.

Winter Heating Options

Wood-burning stove or fireplace

Pros:

• Provides light and warmth even when the electricity goes out.

• Creates the best ambiance, ¬≠complete with crackling sounds and woody scent.

• Newer, high-efficiency wood-burning stoves can recycle gas and smoke, creating more heat, consuming less wood, and emitting fewer pollutants.

Cons:

• Produces pollution in the form of particulates, greenhouse gases, and other harmful emissions such as carbon monoxide, dioxins, and formaldehyde.

• Many cities enforce wood-burning bans to reduce air pollution.

• Wood for stoves and fireplaces wastes trees and can cost more than fuels such as natural gas.

• Ash and soot requires cleanup.

Wood-pellet stove

Pros:

• Burns clean and creates heat efficiently. The EPA does not regulate wood-pellet stoves because they perform so well.

• Pellets are made from furniture and wood manufacturing byproducts including compacted sawdust, wood chips, bark, agricultural crop waste, and waste paper. This helps save trees.

• A thermostat regulates the stove’s temperature so it burns longer with infrequent refueling (about once a day).

Cons:

• Depends on electricity for running the fan, controls, and pellet feeder, so it’s not dependable during power outages.

• Requires yearly maintenance and possibly expensive repairs.

• Pellets can cost more than a cord of wood. Plus, you pay for the electricity to run the stove’s mechanical parts.

Natural gas fireplace

Pros:

• Gas is clean burning and ¬≠produces few greenhouse gas emissions.

• Costs less than logs or pellets.

• Works during power outages and is convenient because there’s no refueling, carrying wood, or cleaning up ash. Just flip a switch, and you have a flame.

Cons:

• Natural gas prices are rising.

• Natural gas is a non-renewable resource with limited supplies.

• Although it emits no particulates, a natural gas fireplace creates greenhouse gases such as methane through combustion. Drilling for gas disrupts pristine wilderness and wildlife habitat.