Fall may finally be here, and it's welcome. The air is crisp outside, and the windows are open to embrace it. Fall has always been my favorite season, a nice reprise from the tortuous heat and humidity of the summer. Our house was built in the 1940s, and it has a lovely fireplace, which was converted to gas-burning by a previous owner. We've always hated that the fireplace is gas-burning, and we have not turned it on more than once or twice in the nine years we've lived here. About five years ago, we had someone come out and inspect the fireplace and chimney to possibly convert it back to wood-burning. He told us the entire firebox had to be rebuilt, and the amount he quoted was out of our price range at the time. So, we let it go for the time being. We've also considered a wood-burning insert for several years, but we've never taken the time to research them until this year. We have a good amount of wood saved and aged from the trees we felled this spring, and I would love to make even better use of money already spent. Plus, our house is so small, we could heat the whole thing with a wood-burning stove.
Once we started researching inserts, we decided to have the fireplace and chimney inspected again. I asked the inspector to inspect with the idea that we would just use the fireplace as is without an insert, so if we didn't get an insert this year, we could at least burn some fires. He told us other than a few places in the firebox that needed to be retouched with fireplace mortar and a few places at the top of the chimney that needed some attention, everything was in good shape. Our chimney has a terracotta liner from top to bottom and he said it's also clean and in good shape. We think the first inspector was just trying to con us.
I'm still researching, but I have found an insert I like and it's EPA-certified and it qualifies for a tax credit. Did you know it's hard to find a wood-burning insert that qualifies for the tax credit? It has to have at least a 75% efficiency rating, and most of the wood-burning inserts that are sized for our home have around a 63% rating. Most of the pellet-burning stoves I have seen qualify, but not the wood-burning stoves. I have considered a pellet-burning stove, but I think the availability of pellets is limited around here since we really don't have extremely cold winters.
What are your thoughts on wood-burning vs. pellet-burning stoves?