There’s nothing more relaxing than curling up by a cozy fire in a wood stove on a chilly evening. The crackling fire is mesmerizing, and the heat warms you like no other type of home heating system. But, are cheap wood burning stoves worth the expense? Will you get a payback from this investment?
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Types of Home Heating
Home heating, especially in areas where winter temperatures can get quite cold, can be expensive, and take a big chunk out of your monthly budget. Typical types of home heating include electric baseboard, natural gas, propane, and oil.
Regarding the cost of such fuels, it all depends on where you live. For example, electric rates vary in different areas of the country. Nevertheless, electric heat is generally the most inefficient source for home heating, and converting to wood will most likely be cost effective. Even if the price of natural gas is low, heating with wood is still likely to be less expensive.
The cost of firewood also varies, and depends on where you are located. Wood stoves, however, are very efficient at combustion and the transfer of heat. They not only give direct heat, but also give off radiant heat from their cast iron construction.
Cheap Wood Burning Stoves Cost
Wood stoves retail from about $1,000 to $2,000 dollars. Budget about $3,000 to $4,000 for the total cost of the stove plus installation, as there will be labor, stovepipe and associated hardware costs.
We are talking about wood stoves, not fireplaces, which will not be as efficient. Compare a fireplace’s 25% efficiency to a wood stove’s efficiency of about 80%. Purchasing a wood stove that has a screen on the front or a glass door will allow you to enjoy the ambience of the fire while being cost efficient. A fireplace and mantle can certainly be a center focal point in a room, but today’s wood stove designs also offer aesthetic appeal, and have enduring beauty.
Consider the Cost of the Wood
While there is no debate on how much charm a wood stove adds to the beauty of a room, whether it will be more efficient money-wise for you to switch heating part of all of your home with a wood stove depends on what you currently pay for fuel (electricity per kilowatt/hour, oil per gallon, etc.) and how much a cord of firewood costs in your area.
A cord of wood is a stack of wood eight feet long by four feet high by four feet wide (128 cubic feet). The type of wood is important, too, as some types of wood are more dense than others and burn longer. Most tree services that sell cord wood will sell a type of hardwood, typically oak. Currently in our area, a cord of wood costs $180 to $200. Check the classified ads in your local newspaper to find the cost of a cord of wood delivered to you.
We have used wood stoves for decades, and here in New Jersey, we use about three to four cords of wood a year. This heats most of our three bedroom home. It’s hard to get heat to go around corners and down hallways, but small whisper fans can be mounted in the ceiling corner of a hallway or the doorway to a room to assist in circulating heat.
These fans are designed specifically for this purpose, such as the “Room To Room Doorway Fan” from Northline Express, which measures less than 5 inches wide by 5 inches long and 2 inches deep. It’s barely noticeable and very quiet.
Don’t Forget the Labor Costs
Deciding to use a wood stove as a heat source will, of course, require some labor. Firewood must be prepared either by yourself or purchased, and then stored in a dry area. Wood will need to be carried into the house. Fires will need to be started, and ashes occasionally cleaned out.
New designs in pellet wood stoves offer much less work and less tracking in dirt from outside. However, pellets cost a little more than cord wood. You may feel this is a small price to pay for convenience.
Considering that the cost of most fuels will only go up as time goes by, cord wood prices continue to be a good value. And, cheap wood burning stoves have a long life-span, delivering warm and enjoyment for decades
PennState Extension: Wood Heat for Your Home: Does it Pay Off?