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Taking a Look at Wood Stoves and Wood Pellet Stoves

Updated on October 1, 2011

alternative heat sources

I love the smell of wood smoke on a cool and crisp evening and in my present neighbourhood I get to appreciate that distinctive odour on a regular basis. This has been a mild winter nonetheless I have been giving thought to alternative methods to heat our home.

Presently, both oil and electricity are used to keep us warm on those normally long and cold winter nights. Unfortunately the electric heat is only in the bathroom which was an addition, a most welcome addition, to the house.  I say unfortunately because the cost of electricity is high and if the whole house was heated electrically, my bill would be more than I am willing to pay.

However, cost while a motivator is not the principle reason I am looking at home heating alternatives; there is the environmental imprint to consider.

A woodstove was the first consideration, primarily because of the smell, but as I looked further than this, wood became a less attractive option.  Wood has an upside the wood stove will operate without an electric source so even in a blackout you have heat. This is desirable in a cold climate, where the indoor temperature drops fast, when the power stops flowing.

When thinking about wood burning, it is important to consider the source where did the wood come from, how as it transformed from a living tree to a log to be spliced and burnt?

Has the wood been properly treated so that it will burn as cleanly as possible?

The next alternative heating source we looked at was the wood pellet stove. Now with wood pelts there is no wood to chop and haul. Pellets are available at a store nearby and the hopper which feeds the pellet stove will load about 35 pounds or so depending upon the model selected. Last year here in New Brunswick there was a pellet shortage and people were scrambling to find fuel.

A new company and possible one or two others have set up shop so this may not be a problem, but a steady supply is an important consideration.

It is possible to buy a wood pellet stove which will burn corn, and pellets made from material other than wood, and the wood used often that which forestry companies do not otherwise use.

The wood pellet stove is dependent upon electricity to get started so that takes us back to being without heat if we lose electric power in a blackout.

This brings me back to what may well be the central point in this decision and that is how our need for electricity is met. We have begun looking at renewable sources, sun and wind, mostly but that is another hub.

woodstove

courtesy flickr/Ronin Kengo
courtesy flickr/Ronin Kengo

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  • Bob Ewing profile imageAUTHOR

    Bob Ewing 

    8 years ago from New Brunswick

    "if worse came to worse, the house could be heated with wood alone." This is an important point. Thanks for dropping by.

  • Katherine Baldwin profile image

    Katherine Baldwin 

    8 years ago from South Carolina

    These days, everyone should be looking for ways to get "off grid". My father-in-law and husband are both Engineers, but that's a hub for another time, lol. However, my father-in-law has a HUGE wood stove housed in it's own room and tied into the heating system that can heat a 3,000 + square foot house. It works great, but the price of wood has skyrocketed so that it is almost the same cost of using electricity. But, it's nice to know that if worse came to worse, the house could be heated with wood alone.

  • Bob Ewing profile imageAUTHOR

    Bob Ewing 

    8 years ago from New Brunswick

    There are indeed advantages to having your own heat source, thanks for dropping by.

  • Rochelle Frank profile image

    Rochelle Frank 

    8 years ago from California Gold Country

    We use ours every winter. We have plenty of wood, oak, pine and other kinds. Yes, it has to be cut and stacked for a season-- but it feels god to have your fuel stored in the shed. We also have wood sources from the valley orchards at a reasonable price. (Almond burns nice.)

    Another nice thing during power outage-- the crock liner from a slow cooker can be set on top to keep the soup, chili, or ... whatever, cooking just like a crockpot.

  • Sandyspider profile image

    Sandy Mertens 

    8 years ago from Wisconsin, USA

    We have a wood stove. The drawback is there seems to be a gray film on everything in my living room from the stove. Means more cleaning. But we have saved considerably on our heating bill.

  • Bob Ewing profile imageAUTHOR

    Bob Ewing 

    8 years ago from New Brunswick

    Makes for a fitness routine that serves another purpose. Thanks for dropping by.

  • Cedar Cove Farm profile image

    Cedar Cove Farm 

    8 years ago from Southern Missouri

    We heat with wood here and love it. The ehat is comfortable and warms the whole body, if you know what I mean? It is hard work, though, keeping a suplpy of wood. But, what ever doesn't kill you only makes you stronger, eh?

  • Bob Ewing profile imageAUTHOR

    Bob Ewing 

    8 years ago from New Brunswick

    Thanks for the input.

  • ecogirl333 profile image

    ecogirl333 

    8 years ago

    Hi, wood burners definitely give off the best heat, but you do need a reliable source of cheap hardwood to make them keep you warm efficiently. We're lucky that we have lots of olive trees to prune and those keep us warm in the winter. Relying on softwood means a lot more work loading and keeping the burner going!

  • Bob Ewing profile imageAUTHOR

    Bob Ewing 

    8 years ago from New Brunswick

    I ahve read a little about radiant heating will look further, thanks and thanks for dropping by.

  • profile image

    WildIris 

    8 years ago

    Hi again,

    Perhaps better than a wood stove is radiant-heat flooring (It can be done off the grid, but it is tricky.) and passive solar. Unless you're buying cord wood bucked to sized, wood heat can get expensive, especially for hard wood that burns longer. Burning wood warms you twice: Once to cut and once to burn. You should see if radiant flooring would work for your situation.

    Iris

  • Bob Ewing profile imageAUTHOR

    Bob Ewing 

    8 years ago from New Brunswick

    HH, thanks for dropping by.

  • Bob Ewing profile imageAUTHOR

    Bob Ewing 

    8 years ago from New Brunswick

    Hope it was helpful, thanks for dropping by.

  • daisyjae profile image

    daisyjae 

    8 years ago from Canada

    We've been thinking about getting one of these.Thanks for the info on this.

  • Hello, hello, profile image

    Hello, hello, 

    8 years ago from London, UK

    They are definitely great. I remember from my childhood. Thank you for your hub.

  • Bob Ewing profile imageAUTHOR

    Bob Ewing 

    8 years ago from New Brunswick

    Welcome back and thanks for your kind words.

  • dragonfly77 profile image

    dragonfly77 

    8 years ago from Ontario

    Bob:

    I have been away from the Hub too long, but would like you to know I love your hubs and the clear concise articles you write, gardening is the best, thank you.

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