ARA - With colder temperatures on the way, many people are considering more efficient and more economic ways to heat their homes. The roller coaster of energy prices combined with the strain on the planet's energy sources and the increased pollution can leave you feeling cold.
Tapping into renewable energy sources is an important step toward reducing our dependence on petroleum and minimizing pollution levels.
"One of the best renewable energy sources is wood," says Tom Morrissey, president of Woodstock Soapstone Company, Inc. Increased interest in renewable energy has brought about a revival in wood burning for home heating. In the 1970s wood burning got a bad rap from the pollution associated with it but new technology lends itself to cleaner, more efficient and environmentally conscious ways to heat your home.
The EPA regulated and approved of wood burning stoves in 1990. If the stove is EPA certified, or, a clean combustion stove, it is considered carbon neutral and a good alternative source of heat. What does carbon neutral mean? It means that no more carbon dioxide is released into the atmosphere than if it were decomposing on the forest floor.
"Woodstock Soapstone Company was founded in 1978 in response to the first energy crisis," remarks Morrissey. "Our wood stoves meet the new EPA regulations for clean burning -- which means you can barely see any smoke coming out of the chimney."
The modern wood stoves made by Woodstock Soapstone Company are exceptionally clean burning. Using catalytic combustors, which burn the smoke so fewer particles are released into the air, the wood stove releases what appears to be more like steam than wood fire smoke. You will burn less wood with a catalytic combustor, with efficiency increased by 25 percent. (If you burned four cords of wood before, you would only burn three cords with an efficient catalytic stove.)
Soapstone stoves are made of nature's perfect material for radiant warmth. Soapstone has a vast heat retention capacity that enables it to absorb and retain heat from the fire, then radiate the heat evenly for many hours after the fire has cooled. It withstands fluctuations in temperature with little expansion or contraction, so it won't crack and stove fittings stay tight.
"The stone is very dense. It holds two times more heat per pound than steel or cast iron and it's really beautiful -- in grays, blues and greens; all with grain that varies with each palette," continues Morrissey. "Soapstone has been quarried right here in New Hampshire since 1797. Some of the first stoves made from soapstone are still in service today."
And there is another bonus: Heat from a wood stove is comfortable, radiant warmth. The ambiance of a beautiful fire is unsurpassed and the radiant warmth eliminates cold spots and dust from blowing air.
Why Wood is Good
Wood can be grown and harvested sustainably. Selective harvesting of mature or poorer quality trees enhances woodlot quality. A new tree can be planted every time one is harvested.
Wood provides local energy. If purchased from local growers it has fewer "energy miles" or, the energy consumed to transport the fuel to you.
Burning wood in an EPA approved wood stove means you have some of the lowest particulate emissions in the industry.
Burning carbon neutral fuels reduces greenhouses gases.
Wood heat is one of the least expensive ways to heat your home. The cost to heat a 2,000 square-foot home with 64.5 million BTUs of heat would be an average of $682 for a wood stove and $1,941 for electric, according to a 2007 survey of fuel suppliers by the United States Department of Energy.
Wood stoves work in a power outage. You can even cook on the surface of a Soapstone wood stove.