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A Log Home’s Thermal Mass and a Woodstove

… a winning solution to escalating fuel prices!

I was reading an article from the Wisconsin LaCrosse Tribune today that said, “The average propane customer will pay an estimated $1,890 this year, and it will cost $2,524 to heat a home with heating oil, according to the Energy Information Administration. In four of the past five years, propane and heating oil have experienced double-digit price growth. The EIA projects propane costs will rise another 13 percent this winter, and heating oil could jump 30 percent.”  Ouch!

As one who uses propane for our clothes dryer and our furnace, I have been watching the price of propane rise year after year for the past six years.  These prices were rising long before the current energy games began.  Can you say… “woodstove”?

A few years ago we decided to rely exclusively on our woodstove to hear our home and keep the propane as a back-up.  We use a Canadian manufactured stove that is very efficient and works like a champ.  Due to that much talked about “thermal mass” quality, once the stove has been cooking for a few hours and the temperature has stabilized, our stove keeps us warm even when it’s -20 below.

As I’ve talked about many times in this blog, I enjoy the process of cutting and storing our firewood.  It’s the most grueling exercise I get every year, but it has become kind of a spring tradition… like bringing in the crops.  Cut and stack enough wood to get through the upcoming winter and maybe even get a jump on the following year.  Of late there has been the additional motivation of saving a few thousand bucks as a result of this effort.

If you are planning to build a log home, I recommend that you resist the urge to include an open fireplace and consider a woodstove insert.  Sure, the fireplace is romantic and it looks cozy, but it won’t do much to heat your home and in fact, it is a terrible energy drain – sucking heat from the home up the chimney.  A wood or pellet burning stove insert with a glass door is almost as romantic as a fireplace, but the heat it produces will be felt throughout your home… and in your wallet!

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