Saturday, December 5, 2015

The Real Story About Heating with a Wood Stove

I had such high hopes when deciding to install a wood stove instead of using the 18+-year-old propane-fueled 15-year-unused furnace (i.e., a veritable deathtrap) in my new home. So, either I'm not doing it right or I have wood that isn't seasoned enough or I have far too many small rooms...whichever, it doesn't heat much! We are utilizing spacer heaters pretty regularly now that the below 40 degree weather has set in. I don't mind starting a spacer heater in the bathroom for 10 or 15 minutes before I take a shower, and I don't mind a cold bedroom since I have a dog and lots of blankets, and I really don't mind keeping an endless eye on the wood in the firebox of the stove itself to see if it needs to be topped off (I feel like Laura from Little House on the Prairie!). And honestly, I don't usually mind a room that's warmer than the rest of the house, especially since I moved things about to have a chair set up RIGHT THERE IN FRONT OF IT.



The things I am finding disconcerting and embarrassingly unexpected yet tolerable (so far) include:
  • Calling the guys who bring the wood and praying they will firstly answer the phone and secondly show up when they said they would with the wood.
  • Worrying about whether we have enough wood. 
  • Fetching wood daily (or more than daily) from the wood pile in the driveway. 
  • Worrying about whether we have enough wood. 
  • Keeping the wood outside dry.
  • Worrying about whether we have enough wood.
  • Keeping enough wood stocked in the house in case it rains and the wood gets wet anyway.
  • Worrying about whether we have enough wood.
  • Splitting the wood that is too big and then worrying about having enough big pieces to last over an hour at night when I try to sleep. 
  • Worrying about whether we have enough wood.
  • Several times a day sweeping up the inevitable bits of bark and shreds of wood and tiny but numerous patches of dirt and probably creepy crawlies that skitter away as soon as I show up with a broom.
  • Worrying about whether we have enough wood.
  • Stoking up the fire every time I wake in the middle of the night to pee (which when I calculate badly means pretty much restarting the fire from scratch in the dark when I'd rather be sleeping).
  • And, of course, worrying about whether we have enough wood.

The most intolerable thing though, that is honestly starting to drive me a bit batty, is the accumulation of ash dust that is slowly, despite my attempts to sweep or brush or wipe it up, growing over the stove, the stove pipe, the stove mat that the stove sits on, the floor around the stove, the rest of the furnishings in the room, and inevitably my lungs every day as I crouch down on my knees to clean out yesterday's ashes in preparation to offer my new daily sacrifice to the fire god. 


Well, it's probably still better than coal dust, in my lungs OR a miner's lungs. I need to keep remembering that. I do still think it's better than dumping a thousand years' worth of carbon into the atmosphere for a month's worth* of heat. So far, anyway. 

But hey maybe my Christmas tree will contribute to the warmth of the house for the next month! 

Happy holidays, anybody who stuck around long enough to catch this second post of the year!

*Okay, I didn't actually calculate the true carbon emission of coal-fueled electricity from
TVA into a month of small-house furnace operation. But I'm taking author's licence cause it rolled out sounding damn good. :)