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Wood Heaters vs. Gas Heaters

Wood Heaters

Pleasant Hearth EPA Certified Wood-Burning Stove with Variable Blower, 2,200 sq.ft.

One of the nicest things about wood heaters is the ability to simply put wood in and light it up. There is no reliance on a service provider for gas or electricity, and being snowed in is no deterrent for staying warm as long as you have wood on hand. Simply put, wood plus fire equals heat. Then, too, there is no substitute for the ambience of sitting in front of a crackling wood fire.

Wood heaters are generally less expensive than gas heaters, and if you have hardwood trees on your property, then the fuel is readily and cheaply available with a little time and effort. Even if you have to buy firewood elsewhere, the price isn't as variable and the cost of fuel overall is still less than either natural gas or propane. You can use a blower or catalytic converter on the stove to help distribute the heat throughout the living space.

Wood heaters do require regular maintenance. This means sweeping around the heater to keep the area clean of ash and wood chips or pellets and removing the ash on a regular basis to keep the fire burning at an optimal level. Also, it is an absolute necessity to have an annual chimney inspection and cleaning to avoid creosote buildup.

Adjusting the temperature using a wood heater takes more attention and effort. Once the heat is on, it tends to be on for a while, and wood heaters, especially any made of cast iron, retain the heat for some time even after the fire dies. This can be a good thing on a cold winter morning when the fire is nearly or completely dead from the night before. It is not as convenient in early fall or mid-spring when the nights are cold, but the days are warm.

RedStone Duel Fuel Vent-Free Blue Flame Heater 30,000 BTU

Gas Heaters

Gas heaters have the advantage of convenience, despite the higher initial investment. When you turn on the heat, it is on. When you turn it off, it is off. It does burn more cleanly than wood, so you don't have to be concerned about the by-products of particulates and smoke in the immediate area. There is no ash and there are no wood chips to clean up, which makes the heating space much cleaner.

A primary drawback is that a gas heater produces less heat than a wood heater of equivalent size, but like a wood heater, you can use a blower to help distribute the heat. Ceiling fans are also helpful in this regard. Another consideration is the cost of the actual propane or natural gas service. It does tend to be more expensive for heating than using wood, but it is typical to choose convenience over cost for those who can afford it.

Although gas burning leaves a more benign by-product, the gas-drilling and pipelines used to obtain the gas have their own negative impact on the environment. There is a whole separate heated debate on the practice of fracking. In addition, people who claim that electricity is always cleaner than wood burning forget that 50% of the electricity produced in this country is produced in coal-burning power plants.