As most of you who read BooneyLiving.com on a regular basis know, we’re currently working to convert the fixer upper home that we’ve recenlty purchased from an energy hog into an lean mean energy sipping machine.
You can read about how much electricity the house was using before we started making the improvements here if you would like to.
We’ve already seen an impressive decrease in the amount of electricity our house is consuming on a daily basis because of the changes we’ve made and so far, we’re quite pleased with the progress we’re making.
That being said, we’ve come to the realization that if you want to make the biggest impact towards reducing your energy bill, you need to focus your efforts on attacking the appliances that use the most electricity.
For us, the main offender was our old electric furnace. When the furnace is running, the meter starts spinning so fast that it’s almost hard to believe. Considering that we were spending the bulk of our energy dollars to heat our house, we recently decided to take the plunge and make a major change.
Weighing Our Options
We considered our options and ultimately ended up deciding to purchase and install a super clean burning wood stove. We shopped around and settled on an Englander NC-30 stove that was advertised as the wood stove that is “…the cleanest burning large firebox on the market”. According to it’s specs, it only emits 1.63 grams per hour. 1
While researching clean burning wood stoves, we learned that in order for a wood stove to be EPA certified, it must meet EPA Phase II particulate emissions standards. The current standards state that for non-catalytic wood stoves and pellet stoves, the emissions must be less than 7.5 grams per hour. For catalytic wood stoves, the emissions must be less than 4.1 grams per hour. 2
One of the things that sold us on this particular wood burning stove was the fact that the reported emissions were much lower than the EPA standards. Another major bonus was the price. We only had to pay $1298 for the stove itself which we were very pleased with – especially considering that many of the more expensive stoves that we looked at didn’t have this good of an emission rating.
Why We Decided to Go With a Wood Stove
We thought long and hard about what path we wanted to take when it came to heating our home. We considered a standard heat pump, a geothermal heat pump, a solar heater, a pellet stove, and of course a wood burning heater.
We still plan to build and install a solar heater but as we all know, that won’t work all the time because the sun doesn’t shine on cloudy days and it doesn’t shine at all during the night.
We ended up choosing the wood stove because it doesn’t use any electricity at all, we live far enough out into the country that we don’t have to worry about red, yellow, or green burn days, and we live in an area where we have an abundance of free firewood. For us, collecting firewood also feels right because for the most part we’re burning trees that were either killed by beetles or blown over in wind storms. We won’t be cutting live trees for the sake of collecting firewood.
What We Learned During This Process
To save money, my husband did all of the work that went into installing our new renewable heat source. Here are the steps that we had to go through to get it installed properly.
- We shopped around to find a really clean burning unit.
- We researched the installation process.
- We obtained a building permit from the county. This cost is about $88.
- We purchased the wood stove and supplies needed to install it. The total cost for the stove plus the supplies ended up being in the neighborhood of around $1,800.
- We built a tile fire-proof hearth pad for the wood stove to sit on.
- Our home had a chimney in it already so all Jeff had to do was inspect it to make sure that it was installed to the manufacturer’s installation requirements and give it a good cleaning.
- We placed the stove in the desired location on the hearth pad.
- We bolted the stove to the pad.
- We ran a ground wire to the stove.
- We installed a fresh air intake system so that the stove will burn outside air during combustion instead of the inside air that we breath.
- We had the building inspector come out and sign off on our work. There was no additional cost for the inspection as it was included in the price that we had to pay for the building permit.
- We installed a carbon monoxide detector. We already had a smoke detector in every room so we didn’t need to buy any more of those.
- We burned several small “break in” fires to cure the stove.
Some Photo’s Taken While Installing Our New Englander Wood Stove
The Biggest Thing We Learned During the Installation Process
When we built our first fire, the paint that the stove had been painted with put off a foul smelling smoke. At first we were both quite panic stricken and thought that we had done something wrong while installing it.
As it turns out, all new wood burning stoves need some time for the paint to cure properly. They call this the “break in period”. From what we’ve been able to determine, the best way to cure the paint on a new wood stove seems to be to make several small fires before making a big hot fire. The instructions that came with our stove said that during the first fire, it’s normal for the solvents that are in the paint to smoke off while the stove is curing. It said not to burn a long hot fire but that’s about all it said.
An Internet search suggested that we light a small fire and let it go out and then wait until the stove cooled completely. The advice was to do this process three times to create the right conditions for the paint to cure properly.
Today is Friday, March 16th, and we’ve just completed the second “break in” fire. In a few days, I’ll update this post to show exactly how much installing our new wood stove reduced our daily electricity usage.
3-22-2012 Update: The results are in and they are quite impressive. Click here to see them: How We Reduced Our Power Bill By $300 Each Month!
If you would like to learn more about what we are trying to do here at BooneyLiving.com, I suggest that you take a minute and read about Our BooneyLiving Energy Conservation Challenge.