While more people are turning into “greenies,” motivated by environmental or pocketbook concerns, an interest in wood burners as a low-cost and low-carbon heating source has perked up ears.
Getting fuel from wood was a primary heating source long before electricity and fossil fuels came onto the scene. Trees are natural carbon sequesters, the giants of plant life that “breathes” in complimentary opposition to us animals. We take in their oxygen and they take our CO2. So when fire wood is sustainably harvested and burned, the act is actually consider ‘carbon neutral” because the amount of carbon that the tree sequestered was the amount that was released when being burned. The idea is, of course another tree should replace it..
Three popular wood burners for your low impact or off the grid living include; wood burning stoves, fireplaces and rocket stoves.
Wood Burning Stoves
According to Suzy Nightingale of Stovesonline, the sales of wood burning stoves have drastically increased throughout the economic downturn. Nightingale even acknowledges that architects too are integrating wood burners into homes as a more appealing and timely feature. (cite)
For many who admire homesteading, this is certainly a step closer in running a self-sufficient home. Wood burning stoves, while picking up as a trend in the US, never left their rustic goodness in Italy, where more than 30% of the homes have a wood burning stove.
Wood burning stoves are stand alone heaters that can be located anywhere in the house with access to a fire place. They are known to be great house heaters. A new stove will cost you anywhere from $1000-2000 USD depending on size and brand. Locate a good used stove and naturally it will be much cheaper. Not only will you get a little more self-reliance, (provided you have access to trees and can chop them into firewood) you’ll probably save money on that electricity bill.
The Fireplaces can often be confused with a wood burning stoves, but the main difference is that fireplaces are built directly into a wall with the chimney right above it. Fireplaces are great features as well but generally you’ll need to be living in a house with a chimney to set one up, otherwise you’ll be facing significant construction costs to modify your home. Interestingly, ethanol fireplaces touted as “eco-friendly fireplaces” bypass the wood concept and give you a lovely stand-alone fire place fueled by ethanol.
A Rocket Stove Used for Cooking
Rocket stoves are about as rustic as a wood burner can get. Sometimes a feature of an outdoor cob oven or a standalone feature, these stoves uniquely light up with the smallest of twigs. So save those trees and boil your pots of water and cook your chili with a fired up rocket stove. What makes a rocket stove so energy efficient is that the cylindrical tube is a small narrow space that allows the fire to burn faster and hotter. These can be a great DIY project that will cost a few dollars to several hundred depending on your design. While a rocket stove cannot heat up your house, it can help you cook warm meals at no cost.
Wood burners have made a re-entrance into our modern world. They’ll likely continue to grow in interest, driven by demand for eco-solutions at a lower cost until more affordable and ubiquitous carbon neutral fuels come on to the scene. -J. VERNET