Penny-pinchers everywhere are using fireplaces and woodstoves for more than just ambiance this year.
While fuel costs have fallen in recent weeks, historically high prices have led an increasing number of Americans to heat their homes with wood. You may want to consider doing so, too.
Switching to wood from oil, gas or electricity could slash heating costs by half. In many households, the idea of using a renewable fuel that's produced right in your own community or backyard is as appealing as the potential savings.
Here's a refresher on heating your home safely, and efficiently, with wood.
If you've got an old potbellied stove or masonry fireplace that's graced your home for decades, consider an upgrade. Stoves have become cleaner, safer and more efficient since the late 1980s and are now manufactured under Environmental Protection Agency requirements.
An EPA-certified stove will produce 60% to 80% less creosote, the tar-like goo that builds up in your chimney, and use up to a third less wood than an older model. Modern stoves also belch far less pollution than older stoves and won't smoke up your home.If you have a fireplace, consider turning it into a source of heat. You can do so by installing a fireplace insert, a box that fits into the fireplace and functions like a stove.
Even the best stove won't heat your home cleanly and efficiently if you burn wood that's wet, green or too large. It may take research to find a good wood supplier, but it's worth the effort.
The wood should be cut into clean, consistently sized pieces that fit into the stove. Make sure you're getting what you paid for. Wood is usually measured and sold by the cord, which costs from $150 to more than $300 depending on where you live, the type of wood and whether the wood is delivered and stacked.