Tuesday, December 9, 2008

The Joy of Fire

We have been trying to heat our home with wood this year. It seemed like a good option for economic,environmental, and sustainability reasons. So far, despite winter arriving a bit earlier than we expected, things seem to be working well. We do have a couple of cold spots (bathrooms) in the house where we supplement with a small electric space heater. I've adjusted my sleep schedule enough that I can keep the fire going all night without ending up sleep deprived, and retrained my kinesthetic senses enough that I can get a log into the stove while mostly asleep without burning myself too often.


The down side is the mess. I find that I sweep the floor around the stove a lot more often than I'd like. The other issue we have had is how cold the house gets when we are away for an extended time. A really good stove, properly banked up, will hold for 8 hours. Ours isn't that good. We can get 5 or 6 hours. When we have had to be away for longer it gets pretty chilly. The other day we got stuck in Columbus overnight. The snow came on harder and faster than the road crews were expecting, and driving out to our remote local on icy roads in the pitch black didn't seem like a smart option. Last year when we were going to be gone for an extended period I put some oil in the furnace and set it on 40 to keep things from freezing. I hadn't expected to be gone that long so I wasn't prepared. When we got home the house was 38 degrees inside. (Don't you just love old farm houses!) None of the pipes froze, but the basil plant that lives on the shelf in the kitchen took quite a hit. It will survive, but it wasn't very happy with us. Next time we will be better prepared.

Unhappy Basil


inadvertentfarmer said...

That is one sad basil! When we built our house we found the biggest woodstove we could and are very glad we did. It will keep on keepin' on all night with proper loading. Now the mess is another thing. I swear we're sweeping all the time. Guess a nice cozy fire has its trade offs! Warm by the fire but you freeze your hiney off in the nether regions of your house that are away from the stove.

Farmgirl_dk: said...

38 degrees inside the house? My goodness...I'm far too delicate for that kind of inside chill. :-)
And you've adjusted your sleep schedule so you can stoke your fire? I bet you'll be doing a dance of joy when spring returns!
Oh, that poor, poor basil...

jack-of-all-thumbs said...

I agree with Farmgirl. My compromise is to set the thermostat at a minimum (I'm talking 60s) but leave the whole house fan on to move air to those 'nether regions'. Then bank that fire such that I only have to get up once to add wood. Frankly, since hitting middle age, getting up at least once per night is not a problem....


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