Here in New England many home owners have their own source of wood they can use to heat their home. Or, they may decide that local wood or pellets can replace fossil fuels helping them achieve a level independence from foreign oil.
Working with a few of these customers, I have had the opportunity to put together combination wood and solar heating systems for both home heating and domestic hot water.
In my local paper the other day there was a story about a guy that burns coal for heating his home in NH. It was an interesting story for two reasons: 1) because not many people burn coal in New England and 2) because he was told (or was under the impression) that he was burning “clean coal”.
The implication was that his coal stove was not as polluting as the next guy’s. More importantly, the price of coal today is low enough that he was saving money by burning coal over his oil backup furnace.
Houses that are taking advantage of good insulation and that are effectively sealing out air leaks need to be ventilated to ensure good air quality for the occupants. These ventilators come in two basic types today: HRV (heat recovery ventilator) and ERV (energy recovery ventilators).
An HRV will preheat the incoming air with the out-going air, which can make the ventilator very efficiency and minimizes the extra heating required when the outside air is very cold. An ERV preheats the incoming air just like the HRV, but can also maintain the humidity levels. ERVs are generally used when the house or business uses air conditioning in the summer as well as heat in the winter. If you plan to open your windows for the summer (no air conditioning), then the added humidity control won’t be helping your home.
It’s been a few weeks since my last update on the 78 Main St Renovation, and a lot has changed. Don Robert’s crew (Wayne, Aaron, and Bruce) have almost completed the framing of the new roof and walls within the old structure. David Dow (Double D Electric) has a permanent electrical connection to the house and some temporary outlets for us to use. We’ve also made some really good progress on the Solar Collector heating system (look for solar collector pictures and details in the next blog).
I knew very little about historic preservation when we bought this house. My least favorite subject in school was history. I always thought of myself as high-tech and modern. The first two houses that my husband and I bought (and where we raised our kids) were both new construction. I’ve never been nostalgic for “the good old days” or cared much to browse through antique shops.
I think back to my pre-Enfield days (almost a year ago) and I used to say “Keep the home fires burning” just for fun…I’d smile to myself and imagine sitting in front of a fireplace with my feet up on the coffee table.
That’s not my vision any more. I moved into a rental house in Enfield, NH in February last year. This house has a wood burning stove in the basement and baseboard electric heaters as backup to make sure the pipes don’t freeze if you go away for a few days.
Last February I was away for quite a few days and even with the thermostat set to 50 degrees and firing up the stove every time I was home, I racked up a $550 electric bill, which is 3400kWh! I realized that I was going to have to learn to use that wood stove properly to keep down the electric bills. If I used only electric to heat this house, I estimate that I might pay upwards of $3000/year — and this house is only 1700 sqft.
About 3 years ago we renovated the kitchen in our house and really wanted a wood floor. At that time there weren’t as many affordable choices as there are now, so we settled on brazilian cherry. It looks great and should last pretty well. Today, if I were looking for wood flooring, I would choose bamboo or cork.
To really appreciate your heating system you need to contribute physical labor.
Last weekend we moved from Acton, MA to Enfield, NH — and switched from an oil burning furnace with forced hot water to a wood-burning stove with supplemental electric baseboard. And I don’t want to use that supplemental electricity (much) until I can get it from the sun.
We got a cord and a half of wood; stacked most of it; brought some of it inside and I’ve been feeding the machine every couple of hours. I can now appreciate what it takes to heat a house on a whole new level. To think I used to pay someone a lot of money and my house was magically heated… except when it broke down or the power went out.
Feeding the Stove
Tarp covered storage
Okay, maybe someone can answer my newbie wood stove questions:
Should I cover my stack of wood with a tarp? Other ideas?
Should I try to keep the stove always burning, or is it ok (normal) for it to go out every night and start it up again in the morning?
My thermostat for the electric baseboard is set to 60F; it is really warm in the basement (probably 80F); there is a grate to allow heat to the kitchen in the first floor – but most of the other rooms are 60-62F. Any ideas or thoughts on getting heat to other rooms in the house?
Any other words of advice for me are appreciated!
kim at energyemp.com (or add comments to this post)