Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Retro Heat: the Wood Stove Returns

It's not your grandfather's pot-bellied stove. In today's Wall Street Journal, I talk about how high heating costs are sparking a rush to buy wood and pellet stoves -- as well as other heating appliances that burn corn, cherry and olive pits and hazelnut shells.

On the high end, there are soapstone masonry heaters with built in ovens and benches. (Pictured above from Tulikivi) They burn wood too but the soapstone absorbs the heat and then releases it long after the fire has burned out.

Personally, I'm retrofitting my own downstairs fireplace with a small HearthStone soapstone-plated wood stove that fits directly on the hearth. It burns far more cleanly (the EPA now regulates stove smoke emissions) and efficiently than the old 1970s fireplace insert I previously had. My house uses oil for its main fuel source, and prices have skyrocketed.

Want to figure out the most cost-effective fuel for your home? Try these two links, which have calculators:

U.S. Energy Information Administration