13 January 2012

A Hot Topic

Well, it's supposed to be a hot topic, but sometimes... Oh, you'll just have to wait and see.

For the past year, The BestHubbyEver has had a bee in his bonnet about rising fuel prices. We have a large house heated by an oil powered hot-air furnace. It's been getting plum painful to see the bill after the oil man comes to fill up our tank. Oy!

Accordingly, he (That would be the BHE, not the oil man) has been looking into alternative heat sources. You know - wood stoves, propane heaters, pellet stoves, Amish fireplace thingies, or insane amounts of aerobic exercise.

He discussed all of them with me and I smiled and nodded politely. He is not an impulsive man, so I knew a decision was going to take a while. In the meantime we could go on as we have been with me sneaking over to bump up the thermostat every time his back was turned.

A wife who's shivering in a parka in her own living room WILL do what she must to survive!

Anyhoo, he finally decided that a pellet stove was what we needed. He had me look them up online and compare their prices and ratings. He talked to everyone he knew who had one - they all love theirs - and he measured over and over again to figure out the best place to install it. Finally, he called a few stove shops and had them come out to give us estimates.

The short story is that we have had a pellet stove in our kitchen since November


ARG! We interrupt this blog post to report another strong evidence of Groovy's mediocrity at blogging. She can upload pics. But can she arrange them and put them where she wants them in the post? NOOOOOOOOOOO!

Henceforth, the following pictures are A. out of order and B. not where I want them in the post. Just use your imagination to fix it all, K?

Here is my sad, lonely, and COLD desk waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay over on the far wall of the living room where it is always chilly. (Oh the irony! See all the blankets on the recliner??!!)

This is the only doorway opening in the-wall-that-cannot-be-removed. That round, brown hooey in the wall is the fan that presumably blows the kitchen warmth into the living room and bedrooms.

Here's one of the cozy spots the BHE set up. It's a lovely place to read or visit with friends.

And here's our pellet stove corner, complete with yet another comfy chair.

This is the model we own -a Napolean NPS 45.

And here is where I get to tell you how much I love/hate it.

First of all, after MUCH debate, we decided to install the stove in the corner of the kitchen, blowing inward to the rest of the house. I was a little worried about placing it there because there is a wall between the kitchen and the rest of the house. I was concerned that the heat might stay all bottled up in the kitchen and wouldn't make it adequately into the rest of the house, even though we did aim the blower toward the doorway. When I finally realized that the BHE meant for the stove to be our ONLY heat source (I was under the insane delusion that we still might use the furnace on occasion - you know, if we got chilly or something) I begged him to tear the dividing wall down completely.

Alas, it is a load bearing wall. Curses, foiled again!

Instead of tearing the wall down, we did some ventilation experiments. The final result was a fan near the ceiling that blows from the kitchen into the living room, and a cold air return vent near the floor.

The BHE moved some cozy chairs into the kitchen and then *gasp* moved my desk into the living room (It WAS in the kitchen. It's been there for the past 10+ years!) and we were in business.

Here's what I love about the pellet stove:

1. We finally have a warm spot that we can go to if we're chilly. (Not so fun with a hot air vent...)

2. I can hang wet clothes, etc near the stove to dry quickly.

3. I finally have a warm place to raise bread, culture yogurt, or start sourdough!

4. The flame is cheerful and cozy.

5. We all tend to hang out together in the kitchen/dining area instead of going our separate ways in other parts of the house.

6. The oil furnace is still functional so I can use it to fill in the heating gaps. Or at least, I can if the BHE is not here.

*gasp* Did I just say that?????????

And now, the reasons I Hate/Loathe our new pellet stove:

1. The reason we all tend to hang out together in the kitchen/dining area is because the rest of the house is COLD. ie. In spite of our best efforts, the kitchen area is significantly warmer than the rest of the house! Including bathrooms! *shiver* And bedrooms! *shiver* And the living room where my desk is! *shiver*

NOTE: It is very hard to type with numb hands and it is very difficult to enjoy watching movies together when we're SHIVERING! (We have no tv. Movies are seen on the iMac or they aren't seen at all.)

I'm just sayin'...

2. The pellet stove is high maintenance. We have to brush out the ash (particularly from the burn pot) and clean the glass in the door daily. This necessitates shutting the stove down, opening it up and making a mess. Every Day.

It has to be vacuumed weekly - either with a special ash vacuum or with a shop vac with special filter that will keep the ask from being regurgitated back into the air.

40 pound bags of pellets have to be carried up the stairs from the garage once or twice a day (depending on how many pellets we've been burning).

3. Like wood stoves, pellet stoves apparently attract dust. I have dust webs everywhere - from the ceilings, in the corners, on the floor. I can dust a room and then next day it is coated again. Blech!

NOTE: Max Tuttle, our chief dustbunny, loves this aspect of pellet stove ownership.

4. The pellet stove has an electric auger and blower. If the power goes out we will have no heat at all.

5. Hmmmm, I don't guess there actually IS a 5. I thought there would be because my feelings toward the pellet stove are much more negative than positive. (It doesn't show, does it?) I guess God is reminding me to be more thankful for #'s 1-6 in the "love it" department.

Ok, so there you have it. Now if you'll excuse me, it's time to bring up another bag of pellets...


Keetha Broyles said...

I'd also be residing strongly in the "hate" department.

groovyoldlady said...

Oh Keetha, on the positive side, he kept the furnace set ridiculously low before. I always had to have extra sweaters to share with our company! At least now there is a cozy, warm place to gravitate towards!

Susan said...

One thing for sure, after reading your post here, I will never consider getting a pellet stove. We have heard of them and how good they were????? Guess not.

Beverly said...

I have to admit, I also have a love/hate relationship with our stove. Personally, I don't know why you bother cleaning it every day, you should not need to. When you vacuum it, you can do the cleaning part. The glass doesn't look as nice, but it doesn't affect the heating. My biggest issue has been the soot buildup in my home, which Tom claims to have now fixed.

groovyoldlady said...

Susan, I think it has the potential to do quite well, but a great deal depends on where you place it and how your home is laid-out. We have friends with one in their basement that heats their entire HUGE house quite well. But they have a very open floor plan.

Bev, They told us to empty the burnpot daily and vacuum it weekly, so we do. We have experimented and once the burnpot gets choked up with ask it doesn't burn as well...

Marianne Arkins said...

Wood stoves are much lower maintenance and work without power, which is why we have one instead of a pellet stove.

My SIL has a pellet stove and complains about having to clean it all the time -- but she works during the day and couldn't keep the wood-burning stove going, so the house would cool. A pellet stove is much more practical for her.

There are pros and cons for both. I love my wood stove. I hate stacking wood every year, but I truly LOVE my stove. Our house is always warm (in the 70s) and I don't have to feel guilty.

Hope you learn to love your stove!

Unknown said...

can I just say, "Boy I'm sure glad I live in Florida!"??

Unknown said...

Groovy, wherefore art thou?