Alternative Heating – Ohioans Turn to Wood and Pellet Stoves

Alternative Heating catches on in Ohio. As the cost of natural gas and oil continues to rise and the season of short days and cold nights have arrived many Ohioans are turning to alternative heating such as wood burning and pellet stoves, for comfort and ambiance in their homes.

It is almost ironic in this information and technological age that so many people are using alternative heating and turning back to the basic wood stove.

The Ohio Department of Natural Resources says that cutting firewood from home woodlots can ease heating bills and at the same time further good forest management practices. It is important to know though which trees to cut for the overall health of the woodlot and which carry the highest heat value.

Pellet burning stoves are a choice some make because they are clean burning, dust free and have no smell at all. They are also easy to operate. All you do is pour the pellets in and light it. As the name implies pellet stoves burn pellets. These pellets are actually recycled sawdust, wood shavings, walnut and peanut shells and similar waste that are ground up, compressed and extruded. They look like rabbit feed and are sold in 40 lb bags. Pellets run $140 to $200 per ton which is about 50 bags. An average pellets stove will burn 1-3 tons of pellets a season.

You can control the amount of heat by adjusting the feed rate of the pellets, something you can not do with a wood stove, turning wood stoves down creates more creosote which can build up on the chimney which is why the chimney needs cleaned frequently. However pellet stoves do have a downside, they need a bit of electricity to operate which is a problem if the power goes out. That is why most are sticking to the traditional wood stove. Even if the electric goes out you still have heat and you can also cook on a wood stove. I actually cooked a Christmas dinner on a wood stove one year when the power went out for a couple days. The dinner consisted of ham, mashed potatoes and baked beans all cooked on top of my stove. It took a long while but tasted delicious.

Today’s wood stoves are far more efficient and cleaner burning then old models. They are easier to operate, offer a view of the flames and won’t drive you outside with their uncomfortable heat. The old stoves weren’t very friendly to the environment. Now they have to comply with the rigid Particulate Emissions Standards. Particulate Emissions is basically unburned gases from the wood that either condenses on the chimney wall, or is released into the atmosphere as smoke. But now wood stoves burn these gases before they leave the firebox reducing the emissions by over 90%.

Wood stoves heat a range of areas from 600 square feet up to 3,000 square feet. This all depends on your homes size, layout, and amount of insulation, ceiling height, number and size of your windows, the type of stove, where you place it and how you use it. Firewood runs around $125 to $175 a cord. Wood stoves typically use three to four cords of wood a season.

Deciding to go with an alternating heating source is each household’s own decision. Some use wood as a second source of heat to burn in the daytime or in power outages. But either way people all over Ohio are installing wood or pellets stoves.

In Pike County Ohio alone all of the second hand stores state that several people have stopped or phoned to see if they sell wood stoves. The Hardware Stores have had a dramatic increase in the sell of wood stoves and fireplace inserts. People all over Ohio are going back to wood or are at least using it has a second source of heat, as a means to save money and fight the high costs of natural gas and oil.

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