My Wood Stove: Why I Need and Love It
Why You Should Get a Wood Stove
"Sleigh bells ring, are you listening? In the lane, snow is glistening..." But, you're nice, warm and cozy, even if the weather outside is frightful. That's because you have a wood stove—a hearth. It really is like a heart...for so many reasons.
Why should you consider getting a wood stove for your home?
They have been around a long time—at least 250 years. They may not be new, but they are tried-and-true.
1. Keep Your Electric Bill Down
Wood stoves can keep your electric bill down in the wintertime. If you're into saving money, then you'll want to invest in a wood stove. In an earlier hub, I talked about cutting your electric bill and using a wood stove is a great way to do that, too.
Even in the winter, my electric bill is low - it was $54.00 for the month of November. That's because I rely on the wood stove for a primary source of heat. I have a furnace as a back-up, but it hardly runs - just when the wood stove isn't going. The electric stove and dryer are big energy hogs, so taking advantage of the wood stove allows me to be less dependent on electricity and more independent in general from having to depend on oil companies for my home heating.
2. Release Stress and Get Some Exercise
Even though the wood stove is an inexpensive way to heat, it still involves a fair amount of labor to get all the wood chopped. Thus, I might not be spending a lot of money on heating, I'm making up for it in labor. But, that's not really a "negative".
In fact, it's a great "positive". When I have to chop wood, I feel like the quintessential Mountain Mama. I know that I'm getting great exercise. Plus, I get the added benefit of the endorphins from all that exertion. Still, the stress-release after a long day of work is stupendous. I wield the Go-Devil with all my might - take that, you piece of deadwood! Even though it takes some commitment to chop the wood, the payoff is worth it - at least to me.
I live on a few acres, so it's easy for me to find and chop wood. I go out and locate a dead tree (especially ones that have already fallen over) and cut it into pieces. From there, I split the wood into cords.
The fact that I am able to clear the land of dead trees is another great perk to having a wood stove. But, if you don't have acreage, there's still plenty you can do to secure wood for the winter. If you don't mind a particularly labor-intensive few days, you can get a permit from the Forest Service and head into the national forest to find your wood.
You can also purchase cut wood from local people. It's usually about $150 - $200 for a pick-up truckload. Just be sure it's seasoned (it's seasoned when it's at least 2 years old for softwoods and 3-4 years old for hardwoods).
3. Recycle Newspaper and Old Bills
When starting a fire in the wood stove, I often use old newspaper along with small sticks as kindling. Sometimes I use old pine cones to start a fire (especially ones that I had used as potpourri) - the aroma is heavenly.
Thus, having a wood stove is a "green" prospect: by reusing old newspaper we reduce the space it would have taken up at the landfill and I'm not cutting down any oxygen-generating trees. I am careful to just use regular newspaper and not the glossy inserts. Sometimes I will use old bills with confidential information on them.
Again, I steer clear of any glossy paper or envelopes with plastic windows - just a basic piece of paper will do. If I don't use all our old papers, they go out to the garden in the spring to use at the bottom of the garden beds to help choke out weeds. Envelopes with plastic windows go into the recycling bin; the recycling center takes those with no problem.
4. Make Tea...And Dinner!
The benefits of a wood stove don't stop there. Once the fire is going, I like to put a tea kettle on top so that I have hot water available anytime. Between the wood stove and the water for tea, I don't get cold that much. Wood stoves provide other culinary benefits, too.
My particular stove wasn't designed as a cook-top, but I still use it for some cooking. Anything that I cook on the electric stove, in fact, is a candidate for cooking on the wood stove. It does take some time to get used to the variations in cooking temperatures and making adjustments to cooking times, but it's well worth it.
I'll also use it to heat up bread for dinner. It works great for re-heating items. I just put them in a ceramic dish and let the dish sit on top of the stove until it's warm. In addition, the room where the stove is located gets exceptionally warm. It's a great spot if you like to make your own bread and need a warm place for it to rise.
Don't put the bread on the stove while it's rising, though - it just needs to sit somewhere in the warm room to encourage the yeast to rise. This helps to make incredible bread! Lastly,I love to simmer apple cider, orange rinds (which are in season in late fall/early winter), cloves and cinnamon sticks in a glass pan. This concoction keeps the house smelling great and is one of my favorite aspects of winter: the scent of cinnamon and spice reminds me of the holidays.
5. Do Laundry
Still the benefits do not stop there. Without a wood stove, many people have to resort to using their clothes-dryers during the winter months, even if they use a clothesline outside during the summer.
I still hang clothes out to dry on nice winter days and then bring them inside to finish on a drying rack. It is also in the same room as the wood stove. The clothes stay fresh and faintly reminiscent of a warm, cozy fire. Another added benefit to drying clothes inside is that they add a little bit of humidity to the air.
The stove can dry out the air, but clothes help restore just of bit of moisture to help skin stay softer in the winter months. In addition, if you put a shirt or pants on the stove for about 30 seconds, and then put them on, the heat from the clothes warm your whole body. Keep an eye on your garments, however.
You don't want to leave the clothes on the stove or put anything on the stove with plastic components because they will start to "cook". In fact, you don't want to leave the fire or anything else on or near the stove unattended.
6. Feel the Love
The wood stove naturally attracts humans and animals alike to its glowing warmth. Frequently, our dog and cats sit on the chairs in the room, leaving no place for humans to sit! (Yes, I let my animals on the furniture...bad me and spoiled animals.)
My excuse is that I have recycled furniture, so I don't really mind if there's a little fur on them. They lounge in there for hours without moving a paw.
I have no idea what I did before I had a wood stove. It's become such an integral part of my life. I simply cannot live without it now. If I went back to electric heating, my bill would skyrocket.
If I had to use my electric stove and electric dryer all the time, I would be an energy hog. Furthermore, I love how the wood stove prompts everyone to gather around the heat...it is as if it helps make a house a home.
What type of heating do you have at your home?
© 2011 Cynthia Calhoun