Friday, December 30, 2011

The Cost Effectiveness of Wood Heat

We've had the wood stove nearly a month and we've learned a lot about wood heat. I got some reader responses about wood heat and how effective or difficult it could be. Thanks for the feedback and keep the comments coming!

I have to tell you: I LOVE having wood heat. I am SO spoiled now! Our house is always warm and sometimes downright HOT! At first, we experienced a 80-90 degree living room and as you moved away from the living room, it got colder, until it you reached the laundry room at the back of the house where it was about 50 degrees. Not too bad, but we were looking for more heat uniformity. I investigated purchasing a blower but found they cost $300 on average. Since I only paid $695 for my stove, it didn't make sense to pay so much for a blower. We tried turning on our living room ceiling fan but found that didn't do too much. So, I went out to our garage and got an oscillating fan to put right next to the wood stove. Success! The fan blows right over the top of the stove and keeps the whole house very comfortable.

Our free, very effective blower

Its so great! For the past several years we've been heating with natural gas (at our previous home) and thus kept the thermostat at 60 and, when we moved here, 50. Since I REALLY don't like to be cold, I would dress in two layers of clothes but still sometimes be chilly. The wood heat has changed all that! It makes our house feel nice and cozy and makes me feel like I don't hate the winter quite so much.

We had to adjust to the wood stove because it dries the air out like CRAZY! The first couple of days, I was drinking water like a mad woman and putting lotion on like there was no tomorrow. However, we took the advice of others and started keeping a pan of water on the stove. This has helped tremendously. An added bonus is that we can put our wooden drying racks with wet clothes on them, next to the wood stove and they dry SO fast. This was not the case previously when we dried our clothes inside, since giving up our dryer completely over a year ago.

My girlfriend says she puts her wet clothes next to her space heater and gets the same effect: air humidified and clothes dry. Because my girlfriend works a professional job, she then puts the clothes in the dryer to de-lint and de-wrinkle them. She claims 5 minutes will get the job done and says she notices a big decrease in her electric bill. Our family isn't too concerned with wrinkles so we dry exclusively by using our clothes line outside or our two wooden drying racks inside.

Our high efficiency clothes dryer!

The final thing we purchased for our wood stove is a stovepipe thermostat. This helps us be sure that we don't over-fire our stove or create additional creosote, thus causing build up and fire hazards. The stove will heat more effectively if we keep it in the middle range on the thermostat.

$14 on E bay, shipping included

So, what's the real cost of wood heat? After the first month (December) we only spent $35 on wood heat. However, this was partially because we had some friends surprise us with some free wood. Had we bought that wood, the total cost to heat our 850 square foot house with only wood heat would have been $70 this month. Even to this cheapskate, that's money well spent!


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