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article imageAgronomist Recommends Wood Stoves to Heat, Cook and Save Money

By Carol Forsloff     Jul 15, 2009 in Environment
In cold country people use to belly up to old wood stoves for heat. A wood stove in the kitchen served as a place to get warm, cook, chat a bit and keep expenses down. It is now being recommended as good renewable energy and a way to economize.
In La Grande, Oregon, where I grew up, the town is very cold during the winter. The average yearly temperature is about 55 degrees, which means there are relatively few very warm days and a lot of cold ones throughout the year. But I can remember a toasty warm house during that time. I also remember hauling in wood from the backyard, the kind people picked up in a big yard full of wood in the town. In the summer, in the few hot days of the year, the windows remained wide open, with screens to keep the bugs out and the fresh air in. It was a simple, basic way to heat and cool a house; and it worked. Now scientists say it might be a good idea to return to those good old days. But it needs to be done wisely and with respect for the environment because I remember the fire truck squealing through the streets frequently as I do in Natchitoches where there are many old houses and lots of wood fireplaces as well.
Wood stoves are being reevaluated these days for home heating. At the same time wood heating technology has improved and is considered about 95% more efficient than in earlier times.
Dr. Paul Grogan, who is a staff professor at Queens University in Kingston, Ontario, a Canadian Research Chair and a plant and ecosystem ecologist, investigated the efficacy of woodstoves aided by some of his students. The results of his study can be in the latest edition of the Journal of Natural Resources and Life Sciences Education.
Grogan maintains that to use woodstoves one must be careful about environmental sustainability and that managed woodlots should be used with carbon released from woodstoves used for the next generation of wood creations. He found by doing this CO2 emissions increased but the net carbon release was negligible. The average growing time for local Ontario tree species is 130 years, so a woodlot of 3.5 hectares would bring an indefinite amount of wood heat for a home without having a net increase in carbon emissions. Thus there is little if any detrimental effect on the environment. This makes wood a good source of renewable energy, Grogan says.
As for costs, Grogan’s study found adding a woodstove to a 3200 ft. home reduced gas costs by 60% annually from $2260 to $880. Cost of wood is about $1330 over a several year period. Over nine years as the cost of gas increases, the net savings would be $920 in the first three years, given the inclusion of other factors involved, including the extra cost of gas and certain taxes.
MSN Real Estate underlines the fact more and more Americans are turning to wood stoves for heating in order to save money. Again pollution is an issue with wood, so there are certain things people need to know before using wood for heating. On the other hand, wood stoves save a lot of money. One fellow in Ontario estimated that for his cord of wood he might pay $250 for the winter vs. gas and oil costs of $4000 for the cold winter months. One needs also to understand that using a wood stove requires more work.
Those who want to use a wood burning stove or fireplace insert need to know some of the safety precautions. Otherwise there is increased home pollution and the possibility of fires. Information can be found through the Environmental Protection Agency, that outlines safety issues to help the consumer.
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