We get it, you love the comforting crackle and warm glow of your old wood-burning device. It creates an incredibly homey atmosphere! But if your wood stove or insert was manufactured before the mid 90s, it’s outdated and probably isn’t EPA certified. There are gas, electric, and even wood heating options available that are much more efficient, cheaper, more convenient and better for the environment. Here's why you should switch to a new stove, and how you could make the switch for little to no cost.
Some people have an endless supply of wood on their property. Those lucky ducks get to run their wood stove for little to no cost at all. For those of us who do not have this luxury, running an inefficient wood stove or insert can cost a small fortune.
Let's do some math. The average cost of a cord (128 cubic feet) of wood in the US is around $296. The amount of wood the average household burns varies a lot depending on the type of fireplace or stove they're using, but an ideal baseline is around 1 cord of wood for every 7 full days of burning for a large open fireplace (that doesn't have any air restriction devices installed).
According to this data, if you wanted to heat your home from October through March, and you have an outdated wood stove or insert, you could literally be burning away $7,104 a year.
Now let's take a look at the cost to run a gas fireplace or insert. A natural gas fireplace running at 30,000 Btu costs 45 cents per hour to run.
If you’re doing the math with me, that’s less than $3 per evening, for around six months, which is around $360 per year. SO you could save over $6,740 per year by ditching the wood!
Stacking wood and bringing wood into the house sucks. Imagine this: it’s the middle of January, the roads are icy and the ground is totally frozen. High temperature for the day is 17 degrees, and there’s a strong wind. It gets dark by 4:45 PM and you’ve just driven home from a long day at work. You stumble into your house and it is FREEZING.
Nobody has been home all day to keep a fire going or keep the house warm. You look towards your fireplace and see that you’ve forgotten to bring any wood inside to start it. The wood outside is frozen, covered in spiders and creepy little bugs. You have to get your coat, brave the elements, and make several trips hauling heavy wood into the house. But you’re still a whole fire away from being warm!
You still need to actually get that wood to burn, which can be a real pain in the butt. You have to set up a little pile of wood, crumple up some paper, hope the paper lights without smoking too much and making your whole house smell like a BBQ, check the draft, etc. It takes a hope and a prayer and maybe a few years of experience in the Boy Scouts before you can get that wood to spark up long enough to call it a fire. It can be very time consuming and frustrating.
Okay, maybe this is just me, but from personal experience I can tell you this process is the exact opposite of convenient. I grew up with an old wood burning stove or insert and I hated the process of bringing in wood. Let alone the process of starting a fire! I felt very jealous of people with gas fireplaces who could just flip a switch and instantly fill their house with the glowing heat of a fire.
If the comforting glow and soft crackle of a wood stove are too good for you to give up, consider switching to a more efficient wood device. This can cut down on both the pollution produced by a traditional wood stove as well as the cost to keep it stocked with wood. An efficient wood stove can actually produce more heat with smaller amounts of wood than a traditional fireplace.
Efficiency and Pollution
Alright, if cost and convenience aren’t enough to get you to think about switching to a new gas or electric stove or insert, maybe the quality of the air around you is.
The smoke created from wood stoves and fireplaces contains over 100 different chemical compounds including nitrogen oxides, sulfur oxides, carbon monoxide, volatile organic compounds, dioxins and furans. These tiny particles are harmful and potentially carcinogenic. They can be as small as 1/7 of the diameter of a human hair, meaning they can be inhaled deep down into the lungs, causing breathing difficulties, cardiovascular problems, and worsening respiratory diseases like asthma, emphysema and bronchitis. Chronic exposure to these particles is linked to heart disease, lung cancer in non-smokers, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, Type II diabetes and dementia.
Burning wood creates a lot of pollution! According to the Spokane Regional Clean Air Agency, wood heating is the largest source of smoke pollution in the Spokane area during the heating season. Because of this, state law dictates the limitation of smoke production from burning wood. Smoke is in violation of local laws when it obscures an object by more than 20%. The Spokane Regional Clean Air Agency is often forced to issue burn bans because fine smoke particles become concentrated and are not readily dispersed due to weather conditions.
Wood Stove Change-Out Program
Even if The Clean Air Agency bans you from burning wood, they still aren’t going to leave you out in the cold. People who use wood as their primary source of heat may be excused from this ban. Want to continue to use a stove to heat your home even during burn bans? Spokane has a pretty awesome program that allows people to switch out their non-EPA certified devices for more efficient wood stoves, gas stoves or electric stoves, for a low cost.
If you are a homeowner in Spokane County with a non-EPA certified old wood stove or fireplace insert, you might qualify to upgrade to a new wood, pellet, gas stove, or mini-split heat pump.
With this program, you can receive a $700 discount if you switch from an old wood stove to an EPA certified one, $1000 for switching from an old wood stove to a pellet stove, $1250 for a wood to gas change-out, or $1500 when you switch from a wood to mini-split ductless heat pump.
Click here to learn more information about the Wood Stove Change-Out Program and see if you apply.
There are lots of reasons to switch out your old wood burning stove for a newer, more efficient device. It can help you cut down on costs, make your life more convenient and help clean up the air. Interested in making the switch? Take a look at our selection of stoves on our website.