4 Heating Options For Supplementing Your Wood Stove

Posted on: 5 May 2015

In rural areas where trees line the roadsides and dot the hills, firewood is often an inexpensive and easy-to-gather resource that costs less than other heating fuels. However, wood stoves often put out a little too much heat for comfort during spring and fall days that are just a little chilly. Spend less time chopping and hauling wood when you only need a few degrees of heating by investing in a secondary system.

Full Ducted Furnace

It's not uncommon for furnace owners to supplement their electric or gas unit with a stove that burns firewood or compressed pellets. You can also try the reverse by installing a full-house ducted furnace to run when your wood stove produces either too much heat or too little. This is the most expensive option, especially if there are no ducts running through your house yet. Expect to pay thousands of dollars to back up your wood stove with a conventional furnace.

There are a few benefits to choosing this option despite the price. First, you get automated heating, thanks to a thermostat instead of the continual adjustments you must make to a wood-burning appliance. Secondly, the blowers that move air from the furnace around the house will also help distribute the warmth from the other heating appliances.

Space Heaters

If you're living in a very small cabin or only spend time in one room of the house for the entire day, space heaters might make sense for backing up your wood heater. Unfortunately, these inexpensive units offer a range of drawbacks like:

  • Safety risks because the unit is not inspected regularly or installed permanently by a heating contractor
  • Inefficiency that causes your electricity bills to rise even with sporadic use
  • Trip hazards for people trying to move through the room
  • Loss of valuable floor space, especially when you use more than one space heater at a time

It's better to choose a permanent heater than a portable appliance that only has a short life span. While you may save a little by buying an inexpensive heater from a local retailer, the increased heating costs and potential risks for fire damage outweigh those savings.

Ductless Heat Pump

When ducts cost too much but space heaters aren't enough, consider a ductless heat pump system. These appliances include indoor blower units mounted at the tops or bottoms of walls that connect to an outdoor condenser with small and easy to run lines instead of big bulky ducts. The heat pump process works best in moderate temperatures, so you can switch this system off when your area gets too cold and switch to the wood stove without making any changes to the equipment. Heat pumps are very efficient and provide cooling during the summer too, making one a perfect fit for a home with no air conditioner.

Propane Wall Heater

Homeowners that are set on the idea of only heating one room should swap their space heaters for more efficient and safer propane wall heaters. Professional installation includes mounting and venting to keep the unit from tipping over or filling the house with dangerous fumes. You can choose between manual operation and thermostat controls, allowing you to run the propane heaters concurrently with the wood stove if necessary during the coldest days. Don't forget to factor in the cost of having a propane tank installed and filled outside the home, unless you already use the fuel for cooking and heating water.

Wood stoves can save you a lot of money if you cut your own fire wood, but sometimes it's just not practical to rely on one for all your heating needs. Installing a supplemental or secondary system is a smart way to protect yourself in case you get sick during the winter and can't continue your chopping and hauling chores. For more information about your options, contact some heating contractors in your area.