Our wood burning stove provides low-carbon emission heating for our home. If harvested sustainably, or harvested when
already fallen, wood fuel itself can be carbon-free because trees absorb carbon as they grow, and then re-release it after
they die and decompose. Since the carbon would be re-emitted anyway if the trees were left to decompose, by burning it, we
add no net carbon to the atmosphere.
Carbon emissions associated with burning wood fuel come from petroleum used for transport and cutting of the wood. If trees
are not sustainably harvested the carbon footprint can be much more, because you are removing carbon sinks (living trees)
from the environment.
For our woodburner we chose the Encore
stove by Vermont Castings
. It has the lowest EPA particulate emissions of any stove in the industry, at 0.7 grams per hour. You can get a "whole house"
wood burning stove, but this model is intended to heat a few rooms. It works great to heat our living room, dining room, kitchen,
study and bedroom, which are all on the upper level of our house with the stove. Our basement stays pretty cool, but it's
never gotten below 48 F while the stove was lit.
Though burning sustainably harvested or downed wood creates minimal carbon emissions, it can create localized air quality
problems, especially with wood stoves built before 1988.
The cost can be cheaper than natural gas and propane, but
that depends a great deal on the price of wood in your area. Wood heat also requires a great deal more work than just adjusting
your thermostat, including cutting, splitting, stacking, loading, and ash clean up. We have our wood split and delivered
for us, which is much less time, but more expensive than cutting and splitting it ourselves. We stack it, but that doesn't
take too long, and is good exercise.
You can find out if wood burning is a viable economically by checking out this excellent Fuel Value Calculator
put out by the USDA. You will need to know how much of your current fuel you need, and the price per cord for seasoned
hardwood in your area. If you go to your local Craig's List
page, and search on "firewood" you will find out current prices for wood in your area. Keep looking to find the best deal,
but don't forget to inquire about how the wood was harvested. If it was clearcut for wood fuel, it actually hurts the environment
more than it helps.
Sitting around the stove is great fun. We don't have a television, so the wood stove is the centerpiece of our living area.
We can spend hours around the wood stove, watching the fire through the glass doors as we read or do work.