Although wood stoves might conjure up images of a smoke-belching potbelly in a backwoods cabin, today’s models are up to 80% efficient, meet U.S. Environmental Protection Agency emission guidelines, and reduce heating bills by nearly half when energy prices are high.
The best use of an energy-efficient wood stove is to supplement an existing heat source, such as electricity or gas. This method, called zoned heating, ensures all your rooms are toasty. Wood stoves aren’t good at heating entire houses with many small rooms and long hallways.
Feelin’ the heat
- Wood stoves can heat 400 sq. ft. to 3,000 sq. ft, depending on the layout of your house and the size of the stove.
- Prefabricated chimney pipes let you install them practically anywhere—even in front of an existing hearth.
- Optional fans circulate air around the firebox and into your room, spreading warmth and eliminating cold spots.
What do they cost?
- A good wood stove from a reputable company averages about $3,000 to $4,200, including the stovepipe and installation.
- Small wood stoves may cost as little as $1,000; elaborate, stainless steel models can stretch the price to $10,000 or more.
- You may recoup some costs when you sell your home. In his market, appraiser Gordon Lucks in Asheville, N.C., says you’ll get back $2,000 on a $3,000 unit.
Cost of wood fuel
If you intend to use of an energy-efficient wood stove as a supplemental heating source, expect to burn two to five cords of wood each heating season. However, heat output varies widely according to the type of firewood you’ll burn.
You can expect to pay between $150 and $350 for a cord of hardwood delivered and stacked. To save money, pick up your own loads directly from the wood lot.
Your money won’t go up in smoke
Using an energy-efficient wood stove for heating can save a bundle, potentially 10% to 40% of annual heating costs of with an electric, fuel oil, or gas furnace. With average annual heating costs of $638, according to Energy Star, your yearly savings could range from $64 to $255.
Tax credits for wood stoves
If you’re buying a wood stove, you’re in luck—until the end of calendar year 2010. There are federal tax credits of up to $1,500 available for wood stoves (referred to at Energy Star as biomass stoves). However, those credits go away after December 31, 2010.
Douglas Trattner has written extensively about home improvement topics for HGTV.com, DIYNetworks, and the Cleveland Plain Dealer. During the 10-year stewardship of his 1925 Colonial, he estimates that he burned through 15 cords of wood. Most, he promises, was properly seasoned hardwood.