Anyone who's paid winter home heating costs knows the feeling of sticker shock. Heating the home comes with a steep price tag—as much as 45% of the average household budget.
That's why many happy homeowners have turned to one of the oldest, most reliable, and least expensive forms of heat: wood. Today’s wood stoves have come a long way from the smelly, dirty, and often polluting pot-bellied monsters of the past. This new generation of wood stoves is more powerful, more efficient, and cleaner than old wood burners.
When choosing a wood stove, it is important to select a model that fits the space. Over- or under-sized stoves are not as efficient, waste fuel, and contribute to air pollution. Heating power is measured in British Thermal Units (BTU), and will give you a good idea of how much juice you'll need to heat your home.
Wood stoves are available in styles ranging from traditional to contemporary, and are constructed of cast iron, plate steel, sheet metal, soapstone, tile, or a combination of these materials. Many newer models boast large, see-through, self-cleaning glass doors that allow you to enjoy the firelight, without spending too much time keeping the window clear. Other modern conveniences that come standard on many of today's models include removable ash pans, insulated door handles, thermostats, and air circulators or blowers.
Another thing to consider when purchasing a wood stove is ventilation. If you have an existing chimney in your home, you may need to re-line the interior with stainless steel pipe to make the chimney compatible with a new high-efficiency stove. If you need to add a chimney, you may want to use a prefabricated metal chimney.
Below are two of the top-performing wood stoves reviewers and shoppers like best:
Hearthstone Heritage Soapstone Wood Stove
For an upscale wood stove it doesn't get much better than the Hearthstone Heritage. Constructed of heat-holding soapstone, the walls of this model provide gentle, radiant heat for hours after the fire has died out, all without becoming hot to the touch, like steel or cast iron. The effect is a machine that's safe enough to use in households with young children and pets. The EPA-certified unit is also approved for use in mobile homes and alcoves, making it perfectly versatile. Available at Hearth Stone Stoves; $2,899.
Vermont Castings Defiant
The eco-friendly Defiant from Vermont Castings is EPA-certified and made from 100% recycled materials and produced using renewable energy. The top-loading design helps you burn hotter fires for longer and the thermostatic air control maintains a nice, steady heat. A limited lifetime warranty ensures that this stove will serve you well for many winters to come. Available at Lehman's; $2,480.
For more information, contact West Sport in Sudbury.