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3 Ways Wood Stoves Save Money & the Environment

Aug 19, 2008
If you're reading this article, you probably own one or more wood stoves. Or maybe you've started exploring today's stove market, and wonder how easy it is to get a maximum return on your investment in radiant heating. Either way, you're in luck. Here are three suggestions that will help you stretch your heating budget to its limits while benefiting the environment and enjoying your stove in the process.

Before we dive in, you need to know that the primary cause of inefficiency in wood burning stoves is the incomplete consumption of fuel. When wood doesn't burn completely, overly smoky fires and decreased heat output are the results. Fortunately, by ramping up wood burning efficiency, you will be cutting down on both airborne pollution and fuel waste. Here are three ways you can use your wood stove with best results.

First, only burn seasoned wood in your stoves.

This is actually a familiar concept, similar to eating lean meat or low-fat yogurt. Recently cut, green wood, is full of moisture, which makes it hard to burn. Up to 50 percent of the weight of green wood can be moisture, which means that your stove has to work overtime to evaporate all that liquid before radiant heat is produced.

Dry, seasoned wood, by contrast, burns steadily and hot, causing top-rate heat output, money savings, and cleaner air. Therefore, when you purchase wood for your stove, buy the previous year's harvest for the current year's burning. If you have the foresight, you can also buy new wood and let it air dry for six months to a year (depending on the type), after which it will be ready for burning.

Second, make "Indian fires" in your stove.

Watched any Western movies lately? Back in the frontier days, Indian fires were the lean, green solar panels of back country heating. By burning small and hot, they were easily kindled, efficient to tend, and good to the environment. Today, not much has changed. Making small, hot fires allows your stove to dispense with unstable gases at an optimum pace, burning them off quickly. That results in better air quality and virtually no safety risks--not to mention better fuel economy. By carefully building a smaller blaze, you'll be a little more involved in tending your stove. But great heating efficiency and better air quality are such good dividends that you probably won't mind.

Third, feed your wood stove the right fuel.

This is basically common sense, but since common sense is so frequently uncommon, I'll go ahead and say it. When your stove is blazing in the corner, it's possible to get over enthusiastic and start treating it like an all purpose Master of the Blaze. Materials like plastic trash and junk mail can get thrown on the fire, in addition to more fuel-like items like charcoal briquettes, hunks of water-proofed wood from your decking project, etc. Admittedly, it's kind of fun to throw all manner of things inside your stove (especially if you love pyrotechnics!), but by doing so, you can damage your stove's inner workings, causes your heating efficiency to plummet, and release dangerous chemicals into the air. So resist the temptation. After all, they're called "wood stoves" for a reason.
About the Author
Looking for more help? AJ Vanderhorst writes about improving your home with max efficiency wood stoves . A world of warm aesthetics and hot, clean, fuel economy awaits your discovery. Explore contemporary wood burning stoves at Wood Stoves .
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