As the winter months creep in, so does the cold and dampness. You cringe at the thought of your home heating bill rising as you pull out your collection of warm sweaters and socks. So how can you escape this reoccurring drain on your pocketbook?
If you have the luxury of owning a home, and have the ability, and room, to renovate by adding a wood stove, you may soon be laughing when the mailman arrives with your monthly recap from the electric company (or oil giant).
Wood stoves have come a long way in the last few decades, particularly since 1990, when the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) required stove manufacturers to adhere to strict particle emissions standards. Now, all wood stoves must be EPA-certified, which means they are environmentally friendly, as well as being stylish and practical. The EPA-approved stove is so efficient that it uses approximately 65 percent less wood than a non-EPA model the same size, yet still produces the same amount of heat.
There are several styles of wood stoves on the market. Consumers can choose from natural cast iron or plate steel, or they can have painted or enamel-coated finishes that match the home's decor.
Good placement equals great flow
Sizes and capacity vary, but some wood stoves can generate enough heat to warm approximately 2,200 square feet of living space. While houses with an open concept design are easier to heat with one wood stove, multiple rooms can also be warmed by this age-old source. The secret is good placement of the stove. Not only should the wood stove be installed in a room where the family spends most of their time, there should also be paths, or openings for the heat to flow to other parts of the house. Warm air can also be circulated by means of ceiling fans.
Choose from cats or non-cats
There are two types of wood stoves – a cat and a non-cat, both referring to the use (or not) of a catalytic combustor. The technicalities of these two products can be explained fully by your local wood stove retailer, but in short, both help your stove burn clean and efficiently.
Safety with wood stoves
From the moment you bring your wood stove into your home, safety should always be a key consideration. Here are a few tips:
Have a professional install the unit
Do not install the stove in a confined space
Ensure proper clearance from any combustible materials, including magazines and newspapers, drapes, furniture and wood flooring.
Inspect your stove, or have a professional do it, twice a year. Look for signs of creosote or warping of the unit.
Only burn fuel that was designed for your stove. Burning trash in your wood stove has the potential to start a chimney fire.
If you have a catalytic combustor model, burning driftwood, artificial logs or anything containing plastic will damage the unit.
For any questions about the safety of your wood stove, contact the retailer, a chimney sweep company or your local fire department.
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