Up until a few weeks ago, we’ve been completely dependent upon electricity to heat our home. We knew we wanted something we could rely on when the power goes out, plus we really want to reduce our electricity bill. So, my husband got an old wood stove from his grandpa’s abandoned house, and installed it into our existing fireplace.
At first I was hesitant about putting it in since our fireplace is a pre-fab, and not made of real bricks. But with the stove pipe going up into the chimney, I can’t see why it would be any more dangerous than having an actual fire going in the fireplace. The back end of the stove sits in the fireplace opening, and the front half sticks out. It actually worked out perfectly as the front feet rest nicely on the tile in front of the fireplace.
The first few times we used it were complete failures. Sure, we got a fire going. But there was absolutely NO heat coming off of that thing. I mean you could touch it and it would not be hot. You could stand directly in front of it and feel no heat whatsoever. We were so bummed out.
Fortunately, Jerry figured out our problem and a few solutions after a couple of days:
Dry, seasoned wood. What we’d started off trying to burn was freshly cut, “unseasoned” as they call it. It wasn’t dry enough to burn hot, so essentially we wasted a ton of wood those first days.
The lesson- chop a bunch of wood a year before you need it. Store it somewhere where it can be kept dry and off the ground. Jerry has since been hard at work chopping up any and all fallen trees he can get his hands on. Hopefully by next winter we’ll have a good stack of seasoned wood ready for us. Until then, we’ve been blessed with dry wood others had sitting around and didn’t mind letting us bring home.
Fans. Jerry figured out that if he sets a box fan on the floor blowing directly across the stove, and another box fan pointing down the hall toward the kid’s bedrooms, along with keeping the ceiling fan on, the hot air is nicely circulated and the majority of the house benefits from the little stove.
Block off rooms. We try to keep the kid’s rooms, office, and master bedroom closed during the day. We also hung a heavy blanket over the doorway of the drafty laundry room. I need to get a tension rod or something to hang a permanent curtain there. We could also use some weather stripping around the back door.
Once we figured out these tricks, the stove heated beautifully. It’s been so nice having it! Even with freezing temperatures outside, I’ve been able to turn the electric heat pump off completely and the house is still a comfortable 71*, as long as I keep the fire fed.
Eventually, we’d like to get a bigger stove. The bedrooms on the extreme ends of the house are still pretty chilly at night. But for now, it’s nice to know that we can heat the house with nothing but good ol’ fashioned wood! And the best part… other than the cost of a can of black stove paint, it was FREE!