With the newly announced wood stove rebate pilot program set to debut in Maryland this upcoming heating season, many Maryland and D.C. area homeowners are finding out for the first time that they have the option of heating their home with a wood stove instead of more contemporary methods. The first question you might ask is ‘Why would I want to install and use a stove in the first place?’
There are plenty of benefits of using a wood stove for your residential heat. The most obvious is the cleanliness of burning wood, which gives off less particulate matter and is a renewable resource, unlike gas-powered alternatives. Another chief benefit is the cost efficiency – a 2009 Consumer Reports study found that cord wood was the cheapest way to generate 1,000,000 BTU’s of heat, priced at $9.09 per million BTU’s versus $12.61 and $18.53 for natural gas and oil, respectively. Of course, pricing will vary based on your geographic location, so make sure you do your due diligence if you’re only looking to save on heating costs.
There are some more peripheral benefits about heating your home with a wood-fueled stove, however. Because they only need wood to operate and don’t rely on electricity, they can provide a home with a heat source and cooking solution when bad weather takes down power lines. This is especially good to keep pipes heated and prevent burst waterlines during large ice storms. Additionally, wood burning stoves can be used as additional cooking surfaces in your home, perfect for warm cocoa on cold winter days. They also have the added bonus of saving you money on other utilities, like electricity.
There’s a certain appeal to a wood stove as well, a timeless charm that brings back special memories. Nothing is cozier than a hot stove after a day spent in the snow. The dry heat they produce is great for drying wet clothes, too.
Selecting a stove
If you’ve decided that a stove is something you want to explore, we’d like to put in a word of caution about selecting your stove. Many larger retailers can offer you stoves at prices that are out of reach for smaller retailers. Although we would prefer you come to High’s for your needs, we would rather you purchase your new stove from any small retailer rather than a large chain outfit. The reason for this is simple – you’ll receive a better product that comes attached with installation by craftsmen who have had long-term experience with their products.
Big box stores offer you lower cost products that are designed to achieve the best margins of profit. They meet standards, but are more likely to warp, have poor welding, and give off more particulate emissions, all problems that worsen over time because of low-quality design. Additionally, since their product rotates seasonally and on a per-cost basis, their installation teams are not as experienced with each particular product that the retailer has on offer.
A wood-fueled stove is an investment in your home and future. Although you might save some money with a big box unit up front, those savings will work out to less than pennies a day in difference from a high quality unit over time. We recommend finding stoves made of heavy steel or cast iron, a sign of good craftsmanship. Additionally, we recommend purchasing a unit from a retailer with a track record of quality installations (speaking of quality wood stove installers). And don’t forget the new rebate that you can put towards the initial cost of the stove!
Have you ever or been in a home using a wood-fueled stove for heat? Tell us your favorite memory in the comments.