Wood Burning Stoves
Today's wood burning stoves are more fuel efficient than ever before. They produce less smoke than they did in the past. And they recycle the smoke they do produce in order to burn it some more. For the environmentally conscious, this makes a wood burning stove an attractive choice.
But you don't have to get a wood burning stove merely for environmental reasons. The energy efficiency of these stoves means that you can get more heat out of them for less money. So a wood burning stove can make a lot of sense to your bottom line as well.
Here are some ideas to help you get the most efficiency out of your wood burning stove. You'll save yourself some money and maybe do a little bit of saving the environment as well.
1. Buy the most efficient wood burning stove you can. An old design or a used stove from the past isn't going to have nearly the efficiency discussed above. But recent research has made great progress in designing firebox, draft, catalytic combustor, and other components to make sure the wood burns cleanly and efficiently with a minimum of smoke, soot, creosote, and ash. Naturally, you'll want to stick within your budget when buying the stove. But don't be penny wise and pound foolish. Remember that a really efficient stove can reduce your energy bills. If it doesn't end up paying for itself, it will at least knock a huge chunk off the price.
2. Buy the right size stove. Take measurements of the room you will be heating and purchase a stove that is rated to heat that amount of area or close to it. Buying a stove that's too large for the area will reduce your fuel efficiency. You'll end up damping it all the time to reduce the heat. That will produce creosote which can lead to chimney fires, and you won't be getting all the heat value out of the wood that you could.
3. Install a stack thermometer. This is a thermometer that goes on the stove flue so you can monitor the temperature of the gases created. You want that temperature to stay between 300 and 400 degrees F for maximum efficiency.
4. Make small, hot fires. These require more tending, so they're not always practical. But small, hot fires produce a clean burn that is environmentally friendly and uses wood more efficiently.
5. Use seasoned hard wood. Green wood is full of moisture which results in a cooler fire. That means more smoke and more creosote built up. Hard wood, such as hickory, costs more than soft wood, such as aspen. But you'll get more heat from it and less smoke.
6. Check your smoke output. Some of these pieces of advice require a little experimentation. Burn your stove at different rates and then go outside to see how much smoke you're producing. The less smoke, the less pollution, and the bigger value for your dollar.
7. Tighten your house. Lastly, your stove will work better in a more airtight house. Weather stripping, insulation, storm window, and caulking can all reduce the amount of wood needed to heat your home.
There is some good information available on the web to learn more about wood burning stoves, how they are used, and what to look for in a stove. Feel free to browse the links below for further reading.
EPA - Wood Stoves: The EPA has set up these information pages to help consumer learn more about wood stoves, how to use them, fuel options, and safety.
Wood burning stoves are typically a specialty item. They are not usually sold by the big box stores. Typically they require someone to install them. Most stoves are sold by local distributors for a manufacturer - these distributors typically help with the installation. For some places to purchase wood burning stoves, check the locations listed below.
Hearthstone Stoves: Manufacturer offers a solid line of wood burning and gas fired stoves.
Woodstock Soapstone Company: this New Hampshire based company offers a unique line of wood stoves, gas stoves, and stove accessories.