The newly-released Old Farmer’s Almanac has predicted record cold temperatures for the Eastern two thirds of the United States this winter. This includes greater-than-normal snowfall for most of the Northeast. “Colder is just almost too familiar a term,” said almanac editor Janice Stillman. “Think of it as a refriger-nation.”
To prepare for this record winter, homeowners should evaluate the efficiency and cost to run their current heating appliances. Often, the colder it gets outside the higher the electricity and gas bills are. Likewise, many are left scrambling to stay warm in the event that the electricity goes out. Fortunately, there are several options that will keep your family without breaking the bank.
Low-cost heating appliances
As the outside temperature drops, more people will turn up their thermostats in an effort to stay warm. As a result, gas and electricity prices will predictably skyrocket during the colder months due to increased demand. In an effort to avoid exorbitant heating bills, some homeowners are looking for low-cost heating appliances to supplement their furnaces and keep costs down.
One of the most popular and most cost effective heating appliances is a pellet stove. Pellet stoves mimic the look and feel of a wood burning appliance without the hassle of hauling and storing large amounts of firewood. Pellets, which usually come in easy-to-store, 40 pound bags, burn up to 15% more efficiently than wood. This means that pellet stoves produce both less smoke and less ash, making cleaning and maintenance much easier.
While pellet stoves do require a small amount of electricity to run, the power needs can easily be met by a small, emergency generator. Likewise, there are now some available models that do not require electricity.
Keeping warm during a power outage
When the power goes out unexpectedly in the winter, most people’s primary concern is how to keep themselves and their family warm and comfortable until the electricity returns. Unfortunately, many heating appliances run in part on electricity, causing them to be inoperable during a power outage. Even those with small, emergency generators may not be immune if the electricity is shut off for a number of days.
Because of this, many homeowners have begun favoring alternative heat sources that do not require electricity to operate. In addition to saving money on the gas or electric bills, these appliances come with the peace of mind that they can be used in case the power goes out.
One of the most popular electricity-free heating appliances are wood stoves. Once the primary heating source for homes nationwide, wood stoves have experienced a resurgence in popularity in recent years. Now available in a variety of modern materials and styles, many consider wood stoves to be an eco-friendly, green energy source because of their low, EPA-certified emissions and use of a renewable energy source.
Direct vent fireplaces are another popular choice for homeowners looking for a heating appliance that will run even when the power is off. With a similar look to traditional fireplaces, it can be difficult to spot the differences between the two. Direct vent fireplaces, however, do not use inside air as part of the combustion process. Rather, air from the outside is brought in through the chimney, which prevents a backflow of dangerous gasses from entering the home. As most models come with their own blowers, the heat can continue to be used even if the electricity is out.