There is one improvement that we’ve made to our home over the last 10 years that is drastically more useful than any other. Care to guess which improvement earns this high ranking? Did you guess “tiled vanity?” Nope. “Redesigned cabinet space?” No sir. How about, “wood stove”? You’re right!
We live in an extremely cold state. The coldest. And Northernmost. There, I exposed my location to the world. You’re not going to creep around my house in the middle of the night, are you? I suppose that I don’t have to worry because it’s deep midwinter here and there are plenty of subzero temperatures to keep the creepers away. That brings me back to the topic: our hard-working wood stove.
Why is a wood stove a great investment?
Both my husband and myself grew up with a wood stove blazing in the corner of our homes. As a young girl I can remember dressing beside the stove on cold winter mornings. At various points during the year my family would spend endless hours driving down backroads searching for wood to burn. My father would chainsaw the trees into pieces and mightily split each round with a thrilling “crack”. As a family we would load the split pieces into the truck and return home with the smell of two-stroke in the air.
When we built our home we were trying to keep the costs as low as possible. Although we had an inkling that we’d want a stove someday, we decided to delay the purchase. A few years and two children later and we decided that a backup source of heat was important. It’s funny how children cause you revaluate priorities. We didn’t want to get caught without heating during a -30 cold snap.
Does the stove brand really matter?
You bet your frozen toes that brand matters! You can spend less money on a stove, but you’d better expect to be gathering and splitting wood until the cows come home. A less expensive stove equates to less efficient operation. If you’re looking for an alternative to gym membership, I’d highly recommend buying the cheapest stove that you can find. For example, this barrel stove ought to keep your biceps plenty buff.
We began our search for the perfect stove by researching online. Visiting forums and manufacturers sites, we took note of the more popular stoves. A few brands stood out as being reliable and significantly more efficient than the competition. These included Lopi, Hearthstone, and Jotul. Hearthstone stoves are built encased in great slabs of stone that absorb and then radiate heat. They are incredibly efficient. Jotul stoves are adorable and Norwegian, which make them instantly amazing.
Here’s an efficiency table to help guide your decision. The downside of purchasing these more efficient stoves is that they’re more expensive than the competition. We spent nearly $4,500 for the total project. This was somewhat offset by a 30% (up to $1,500) federal tax rebate for the purchase of stoves meeting certain emission requirements. That rebate has been lessened to a $300 credit in recent years, and possibly not at all for 2015. Visit Heated Up! for current information about tax credit offerings.
Have you ever considered purchasing a wood stove? How do you heat your home?