Not Your Father’s Stove

Reader Contribution by Jack Fernard
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Having grown up splitting and stacking … and stacking and splitting … and splitting and stacking, I had an ingrained concept of what it means to heat with wood. Between the bee stings, pinched fingers, and countless slivers, it’s a concept I was determined to put behind me. But fast-forward a few decades, and wood heat has, once again, found its way into my home. Only this time, I’m loving it!

Enter the wood pellets.

For the record, wood pellets and firewood are not what you would call an ‘apples-to-apples’ thing. Sure, they both come from trees, but that’s about where the similarities end. With wood pellets there is no going into the woods, felling a tree, sawing it into a bazillion chucks, throwing these chunks into the back of a truck, driving to the house, tossing the logs back out of the truck into a big pile where you can later split and stack … stack and split … (Get the picture?) Instead, pellets come in relatively clean, 40-lbs bags that line up ever so nicely in the garage. No bee stings, no pinched fingers, and no slivers!

Another great thing about wood pellets is the low ash content. Shoveling out ash was a daily routine with burning firewood. By comparison, I’ve emptied out the ash pan of my pellet stove twice this season.

My particular pellet stove ignites electrically. This means no chopping kindling, no trying to get the newspaper in just the right spot in order to get the kindling going, and no back-drafts into the room when it’s really windy outside.

Of course, I do need electricity to run my pellet stove — something a lot of firewood stoves do not. This would be especially important for those occasions when the power goes out for days at a time. But, seeing as I’m already off-grid, I’m not too concerned with the utility grid.

Also worth noting: The wood used to make the pellets I purchase actually come from waste that would normally end up in a landfill. So not only am I using a renewable source of fuel, but I’m re-purposing trash.

About the only thing wood pellets and firewood have in common is the fire. I love watching the flames dance in the evening when the only other light in the room is coming from the Christmas tree.

This is our second winter heating with the pellet stove, and I must say I’m impressed with how well that little stove keeps our whole house comfortable. It is our primary source of heat and it has performed wonderfully. So, if you’re considering a wood pellet stove, I highly recommend them. Just understand, they’re not your father’s stove!

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