With higher electricity bills looming on the horizon many families are once again considering wood heat as a more economical replacement or supplemental heat source for their homes. Although the burning of wood for heat is not nearly as common today as it was in eras gone by, there are still many areas of the country where a winter's supply of firewood can be cut or purchased at a considerable savings over other fuels, such as electricity, propane, natural gas and fuel oil. If you count yourself among those who are considering a return to using wood for heat but are unsure of what type of wood heat will work best in your home, the following tips will help.
Many homes today already have or continue to be built with wood burning fireplaces. In many cases, however, wood burning fireplaces are best suited for warming a single room or small area. This is because the design of a basic wood burning fireplace allows much of the heat to escape through the flue, instead of being sent outward into the room. If you already have a wood burning fireplace or would like to have one, discuss your situation with a reputable masonry contractor who specializes in building fireplaces, flues and hearths. They may be able to retrofit an existing fireplace with an insert or fans to help move the heat or help you design one that will offer a reliable source of warmth for your family.
Another type of wood heat that is becoming popular is the masonry heater, sometimes called a Russian masonry heater. Like fireplaces, these are permanent masonry fixtures, but differ due to the fact that they are capable of heating a large home reliably, using very little wood and a short burn time, often as little as thirty minutes per day. They work by trapping heated air inside specially designed interior cavities in the heater that warm the surrounding masonry which then radiates slowly into the interior of the home. Since these masonry structures are quite large and very heavy, your home must be sufficiently sized and designed to make it possible for the masonry contractor, such as from Mara Restoration, Inc., to install a large concrete foundation, as well as space for the flue and the heater.
One of the most common methods of using wood heat is with a wood heating stove. These come in a wide variety of sizes and designs, including ones that can also be used for cooking food. Wood stoves will require a masonry or stainless steel flue and a heat proof installation surface, such as a brick pad. Wood stove usage is regulated in some areas of the nation and insurance guidelines may also apply, so make sure that you check with your local authorities and your insurance agent before planning your purchase.