Wood-Burning Stoves: Heat Your Home With Wood

As natural gas prices skyrocket, wood-burning stoves are positively hearth warming.

| January/February 2007

  • The modern-looking Bixby MaxFire free-standing stove burns corn as well as wood and biomass pellets.
  • The Bodega Bay wood fireplace insert from Quadra-Fire keeps rooms cozy.
  • Pellet stoves, such as the Harman P68, burn small chunks of compressed wood byproduct.
  • The Jøtul Black Bear free-standing wood stove has a decorative Norwegian front plate.
  • Quadra-Fire’s Mt. Vernon fireplace insert burns a variety of biofuels, including pellets, corn, sunflower seeds and wheat.
  • The ultramodern Fiorina masonry fireplace by Tulikivi is crafted from soapstone, which retains heat and radiates it throughout the room.
  • The ultramodern Fiorina masonry fireplace by Tulikivi is crafted from soapstone, which retains heat and radiates it throughout the room.

Warming yourself by a fire is one of life's simple pleasures. Unfortunately, traditional fireplaces are notoriously inefficient. They draw huge amounts of air from rooms they're supposed to be heating to fuel the fire with oxygen and sometimes lose more heat than they produce. At best, an open fireplace is only 10 percent efficient. Far better options are wood stoves, pellet stoves and fireplace inserts. Or if you're building a new home, a simple masonry heater can carry you through the winter months.

Wood heat may seem old-fashioned, but it offers many benefits over conventional home-heating fuels. First, wood is renewable and abundant in many locations-even in cities, where mountains of wood pallets, shipping crates, construction-site scrap lumber (make sure it's chemical free) and tree trimmings are readily available.

Wood is sometimes viewed as the black sheep of the renewable energy family because it produces the most air pollution of the many types of renewable energy. However, improvements in wood-burning technology have made it a much better choice today than in the past. Burning wood in the new generation of clean, efficient stoves can help reduce emissions of carbon dioxide, the principal greenhouse gas that leads to global warming. And, when sustainably harvested wood replaces fossil fuels, we can reduce our reliance on foreign oil.

Wood stove wisdom

Wood stoves come in many shapes, sizes, styles and colors. Those designed for serious home heating fall into two categories: radiant and circulating. Radiant woodstoves are made from welded steel or cast iron. These stoves' walls absorb the fire's heat and radiate it into the room.

Circulating stoves consist of a welded-steel or cast-iron shell surrounded by an air space and a second layer of metal. The fire heats the inner shell, warming the air space. Heated air flows from this space either passively (by convection) or actively (by a fan).

4/10/2014 11:01:19 AM

Having a wood burning stove in the house really makes a fantastic addition both visually and for heating purposes. They are a great because using a renewable source such as wood, instead of a gas central heating boiler, is both going to cost you less and be better for the environment. I have a wood burning stove in one room and it is fantastic, I also use an http://www.underfloorheatingsystems.co.uk system throughout the rest of my home. It provides a great radiant heat source and its even better to have toasty warm feet on the recent cold winter we've had this year.

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