Friday, October 16, 2009

Fall in New England, Part II: Fire

So the best thing we did last spring was buy a wood stove insert for our fireplace. I love having a fireplace, love having fires, but not only does 75 percent of the heat generated go up the chimney, it sucks the heat out of the room too. So the glamour has worn off and we got a stove this June, when the guys weren't busy.

I scouted out the various alternatives, talked to friends, and found Amherst Farmers Supply, with the very helpful Chad. He recommended a Pacific insert, I think this is it, or close to it. They installed a chimney liner and fixed our backdraft problem at the same time -- the fireplace smoke would get sucked into the pellet stove in the basement and make that room and eventually the house all smoky -- and installed this gorgeous stove.

We had a couple of fires before the summer heated up, just to test it out, and to burn off the new-stove, machine oil smell. We were not at all sure how much wood to get for the winter. We want to use it to heat the house but not exclusively, and we do have natural gas, which isn't that pricey these days. And we were daunted by the challenge of stacking and storing and bringing in all that wood.

In the end we got two cords, dumped from a dumptruck all over our driveway. It took us a couple of weeks to stack it near but not against the house (termites), with help from Mum! and Dave rigged up a plastic sheet over it to keep the elements mostly off. I gather lots of kindling when I'm in the woods -- you don't need this if you never stop using your fire, of course, but we don't run it 24/7. At least not yet. We have all that stored there too.

So now the drill is, typically, I come home and fire up the stove to warm up the house. We have a small wood pile on the screened-in porch. Then I usually take a load or two of wood from the big pile upstairs, keep that pile stocked, and bring in a couple of armloads next to the actual stove, too. The thing heats up incredibly, too much, and because our bedrooms are in a loft space, they can actually be really too warm at night. So we're learning how to feed the fire, when to stop loading up wood at night, so it's not too hot at bedtime.

And the fire is lovely! it does have a fan, which is a bit noisy, but I don't care. I love it, love looking at it, love the heat it generates. It's wonderful. I love bringing in the wood -- next year, three or four cords, for sure -- and it makes me feel much more secure, knowing I will be warm no matter what happens to the electricity (we've lost it several times already).

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