Keeping Warm with a Pellet Stove
This post is quite timely because our East coast province has just endured another cold snap – I’m talking minus 30 degrees Celsius. It’s so cold outside, our dogs gingerly lift up their feet while they hurriedly do their business outside and then race back into the house! Overall it’s been a typically frigid Maritime winter!
This weather has more than justified an investment and addition to our home’s heating system – a PELLET STOVE!
And…we are loving this new addition to our household. Absolutely, no regrets! In fact, we wish we made this purchase years earlier since our stove has greatly increased our comfort this winter.
The decision to buy a pellet stove came about because we were looking for a way to cut down the annual cost of the natural gas forced air heating system of our drafty 115 year old house and warm up the coldest area in the house – the breakfast room (which is above a crawl space).
I was at a local fireplace store, checking out the price of wood and pellet stoves when I spied it. It was white, made in Italy, and did not look like the pellet stoves I had envisioned in my head. You know, big and black with a stone hearth and big black pipe sticking out of the wall. Kind of like this:
This one shone like a gleaming white beacon .and I fell in love (or as in love with a source of heat as one can).
Of course, pellet stove research was necessary. Paul at my local fireplace store – Sunpoke Energy – was a huge source of information and patiently explained to us (over and over) the realities of using a pellet stove.
I also did my online research. I found this article detailing the pros and cons of pellet stoves at MOTHER EARTH NEWS (the guide to living wisely!) useful:
Pros of our new pellet stove:
- If you are committed to using a renewable energy source and you are away from home for many hours at a time, a pellet stove can be a good choice
- A wood pellet stove burns processed wood — the logs have been debarked, ground, dried and then compressed into small pellets.
- Pellets generally are more economical than heating oil, propane or electricity, and like traditional wood, they are renewable.
- Compared with a log-burning woodstove, a pellet stove is easier to tend You fill the hopper in the morning and get heat for 16 hours or more before you need to reload the stove.
- The pellets burn cleanly and efficiently. They’re also more compact and thus easier to store than logs, requiring just 80 cubic feet per ton versus 128 cubic feet for a cord of firewood, which produces about the same amount of heat.
Cons of our new pellet stove:
- Pellets are sold in 40-pound bags, which can be difficult to manage.
- Another downside of wood pellet stoves is that they require electricity to feed pellets into the stove and to run fans to emit warm air, so if you get your energy from the grid, you won’t have heat if you lose power.
Our model, the Monia, is by Piazzetta Pellet & Gas Stoves, an Italian company and has a sleek attractive design. The porcelain enamel steel exterior comes in white, black and bordeaux (a dark red). Features include a timer, programming options and 89.5% efficiency. Even better, this baby can heat up to 1800 square feet.
I also came up with a stylish and practical solution for storing the open bag of pellets (which tend to last us about two days – the rest are stored in the basement) and the handy little ash vacuum we found at Canadian Tire. We use the ash vacuum to give the ash drawer a quick daily vacuum – this takes only a couple of minutes in the morning.
Pellets and the ash vacuum are stored in the BYHOLMA wicker chest in Gray from IKEA, which you can order online for $69.99 since alas we do not have an IKEA in Atlantic Canada. By the way this wicker chest is great value and very attractive!
We’ve had this stove for almost two months now and we are noticing a big difference in our natural gas heating bill. We’re anxious to find out what the overall difference will be for the coldest months – January and February. Send me a comment if you are interested in this information. Plus, there is no extra dust in the house.
And, huge bonus, this formerly chilly room has become a favourite place in the house, for dogs and humans alike, and a great place for a cup of tea.