In the chilling winds of winter, the home should be a toasty, comfortable retreat. However, in the name of saving money, many are turning to heating options outside of the mainstream natural gas or oil. This includes wood stoves, masonry heaters, pellet stoves, and wood-fire boilers. Below, the options are defined and the advantages and disadvantages are briefly covered.
A wood stove is essentially a box supplied with firewood that generates heat, while the gases and smoke are expelled through a flue.
Advantages: Saves money. Adds to overall home atmosphere.
Disadvantages: More potential pollution than any other option. Limited heating coverage. High maintenance.
A masonry heater or Russian stove is basically a heat box surrounded by masonry, allowing short bursts of fire to radiate through the mason material long-term.
Advantages: One of the most efficient or clean heating methods. Long term heating capacity for very little input or wood resources.
Disadvantages: Very expensive. Very heavy (may require reinforced flooring).
Don’t let the “stove” term fool you. This is really a fuel method that involves small pellet sized segment of compressed wood, cardboard scraps, and husk waste.
Advantages: Very efficient. Less messy than other methods. Less maintenance involved.
Disadvantages: Pellets aren’t widely available. Expensive. Uses electricity. Not as many cost savings as other methods.
A wood boiler is a large placed in the interior or exterior of your home that heats water and distributes it through your home’s radiator or baseboard heaters before being recycled and rewarmed.
Advantages: As effective as gas and oil heating. Wide heating coverage (great for big houses). Capable of up to 90% efficiency. Less maintenance required.
Disadvantages: Expensive. Requires extensive set-up/installation. May require EPA certification depending on the state you live in. Lacking aesthetic value.
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Solomon, Christopher. “Heat Your Home with Wood: 4 Options.” MSN Real Estate. MSN, n.d. Web. 02 Dec. 2013.