Are Wood Stoves Worth It?

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Woman with cute cat resting near fireplace at home

As we push into the harsher parts of winter, you may be wondering if you can possibly boost the heat in your home without adding so much to your bill at the end of the month. If you have a wood stove or fireplace, it can be tempting to think of it as a free booster to warm the house. You may even be considering about having one installed. There are several factors to examine when looking at wood burning for heat as an option.

Where is your wood stove?

Wood stoves are great ways to warm a room, but depending on the size of your home, it might be harder than you think to move that heat to other parts of the house. Unless it’s near a larger open area, that warmth usually extends to the doorway of the room it’s in. Also consider that warm air rises, so you’ll get the most out of a wood stove or fireplace if it is located lower in the home.

When is the last time you had it serviced?

You need to make sure the wood stove is safe to use. Even if you’ve used it before, there’s no guarantee that it will work perfectly since the last time you used it almost a year ago. Getting it checked out by a professional to ensure your chimney is clear and your fireplace is completely intact is a must every year before you use your stove or fireplace.  

Do you have time to maintain it?

Unlike gas, oil, and electric heat, wood stoves require someone to regularly feed fuel to the fire. It is not recommended to leave a fire burning unattended for safety reasons. In addition to keeping the fire burning, you also need to clean out the burn area itself after ever fire. Scooping ash out of the fire area allows wood to burn more efficiently and keeps it from blowing out into your home. In addition, allow yourself time to clean around the outside of the stove or fireplace because of the dirt and bark that come with transporting wood around your home.

Where do you get your wood from?

Where is the fuel coming from? Many stores offer bundles of wood throughout the colder months, but if one bundle lasts a day or two before you have to buy another, consider the cost of those bundles. Does the potential of saving a little on your gas, oil, or electric bill justify the extra expenditure? In most cases, the answer is no. Unless you have a source of free or almost free wood, purchasing bundles consistently is not always a cost effective option.

Wood stoves are a great way to warm a home, add some comfort, and tie a room together, and if you already have a heating source, wood stoves can maybe offset some of your costs. More likely than not however, they will act as a heat source for one or two rooms at a comparable cost to simply turning up your heat after you factor in maintenance, fuel cost, and time up-keeping the flame. If you are looking to increase your home’s heating efficiency, you can always check out our on tips for preventing heat loss in your home.