When the power goes off in the winter, the primary concern for most homeowners is how to stay warm until the power returns. With the devastating power outages caused by Hurricane Sandy still fresh in the mind of area residents, many are looking for alternative heating sources that can be used in the event of severe weather and other natural disasters that may disrupt traditional heating sources.
Appliances such as wood stoves, direct vent appliances, or pellet stoves are an excellent alternative energy source. In addition to being totally “off grid,” these heating sources still work even when the power is down.
Wood stoves may seem old fashioned, but these appliances have been modernized to meet the needs of the current consumer market. In addition to coming in a variety of styles and sizes to meet various budgets, wood stoves are considered to be a green, eco-friendly heat source due to their use of renewable materials as fuel and their low EPA-certified emissions.
While shopping for and purchasing firewood may seem like a waste of time and money, wood is a far less expensive fuel source than gas or electricity. As oil prices have risen in the recent years, so have the prices for propane and natural gas. Many homeowners are able to further increase their savings by harvesting, chopping, and storing their own firewood. Finally, as they use wood as their only fuel source, wood stoves are able to continue to heat a home even when the power if out.
While similar to traditional fireplaces in many ways, direct vent fireplaces differ in a few major ways. First, they do not use air from inside the home as part of the combustion process. Instead, outside air is brought in through the chimney, where smoke and fumes also exit. Because of this, there is virtually no risk of dangerous gasses flowing into the home.
The other major difference in direct vent fireplaces is that they are not connected to any other utilities. With many current models coming equipped with their own blowers, the fireplace’s convective heat can be used even when the power is out.
The popularity of pellet stoves has increased dramatically in recent years. Many homeowners are drawn to them as a wood burning fireplace alternative. They replicate the look and real of a wood burning fire without the hassle of chopping, seasoning, and storing firewood; pellet bags can be easily bought, stacked, and stored in a variety of places. In addition, pellet stoves create very little ash, making them easier to clean maintain. They also burn up to 15% more efficiently than a traditional wood appliance.
Despite their many advantages, pellet stoves do require electricity to run. However, some models are equipped with battery packs that can be used in the event of a power outage. For homes with existing generators or for homeowners looking to purchase and install one, pellet stoves are still a viable heating source for use when the electricity is out.