When it’s cold outside, there’s nothing like a roaring fire to keep your home feeling cozy. If you’re relying on an old wood stove or fireplace for heat, though, you might want to consider an easier and more energy-efficient option: a pellet stove or fireplace insert.
Pellet stoves offer all the benefits of a wood stove—and then some—without all the work. They use a renewable fuel source, and they provide both the warmth and ambience of a wood stove, but there’s no chopping, stacking, or hauling firewood required. “The best part” about pellet stoves, according to an article for This Old House magazine, “is that they are about twice as efficient at warming your home as older wood stoves that have not been certified by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and are vastly more efficient than fireplaces.”
Like wood stoves, pellet stoves come in a range of sizes and can heat all or part of your home, depending on its size and floor plan. Pellet stoves can be an effective and affordable primary or secondary heat source for most residences. “Pellet fuel appliances are almost always less expensive to operate than electric resistance heating, oil, and propane-fueled appliances,” says the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). In fact, a pellet stove can save you 50 percent or more on your home heating costs, according to another article for This Old House.
Find out just how much you could save using our retail partner Quadra-Fire’s pellet fuel savings calculator.
Still not convinced that switching to a pellet stove is worth it? Keep reading to learn more about the perks of pellet stoves—plus find out how you can save up to $400 on your purchase at Sunfire Energy Solutions through the end of the December.
On the outside, pellet stoves look just like traditional wood stoves, but the similarity ends there. “The biggest difference between a pellet stove and its main competitor, a woodstove, is that, inside, the pellet stove is a high-tech device with a circuit board, a thermostat, and fans—all of which work together to heat your space efficiently,” according to This Old House.
Instead of loading wood into a firebox, like you do with a wood stove, you simply have to pour pellets into your pellet stove’s storage box, which is called the hopper. From there, a mechanical auger (powered by electricity) feeds pellets from the hopper into the burn pot, “creating a constant flame that needs no tending,” according to This Old House.
The pellets, which you can buy from hearth products retailers like Sunfire, are made of compacted plant matter, usually wood or sawdust. Some pellet stoves also can burn pellets made from other biomass materials such as corn, wheat, and even cherry pits.
There are numerous advantages to burning pellets versus wood, according to Don Vandervort in an article for HomeTips.com. “Both because of the fuel’s consistency and the stove’s combustion mechanics, pellets burn very hot,” Vandervort writes. “This means they burn more efficiently and more cleanly than wood.”
Because they’re designed to burn so hot, pellet stoves produce far less ash than wood stoves, which reduces the time you have to spend cleaning your appliance. Pellet stoves also make “far less creosote, a common wood stove and fireplace hazard that blackens glass doors and collects in chimneys, potentially causing chimney fires,” Vandervort writes.
Pellet stoves produce far less air pollution than wood stoves and fireplaces as well. “In fact, pellet stoves are the cleanest solid fuel, residential heating appliance,” according to the DOE. Most pellet stoves fall in the 70 to 83 percent efficiency range and have heating capacities between 8,000 and 90,000 Btu per hour.
In addition to their energy efficiency and environmental friendliness, pellet stoves are known for being convenient and easy to operate. In fact, most models hold between 35 and 130 pounds of pellets at a time and require refueling only once a day. Many models have smart, programmable thermostats that adjust heat output and control temperature, making it a snap to keep your home warm.
Many pellet stoves require little maintenance other than regular cleaning and an inspection by a professional once a year (or each time you’ve burned a ton of pellets). “During the burning season, it’s important to periodically clean ash out of the burn chamber area and the ash pan,” according to a blog post by Quadra-Fire. “You should also scrape the burn pot, and keep vital components free of ash, such as the airwash system (if your stove has one) and venting.” Check your owner’s manual for maintenance instructions for your particular stove.
Pellet stoves are a reasonably priced heating option for many homes. While a new pellet stove or insert typically costs between $1,800 and $5,000, the installation is usually cheaper than that of a wood stove. “Many (pellet stoves) can be direct-vented to the room and do not need an expensive chimney or flue,” according to the DOE. “As a result, the installed cost of the entire system may be less than that of a conventional wood stove.”
Pellet stoves can typically be purchased for a fraction of the cost of other renewable energy systems, including solar panels, geothermal heat pumps, and wind turbines, according to another post by Quadra-Fire.
For a home that currently depends on electricity, oil, or gas for heat, a pellet stove will pay for itself over time through energy savings. Some models cost as little as $3 per day to operate, according to Quadra-Fire.
Many homeowners are able to significantly reduce their annual heating costs by using pellet stoves for zone heating: they turn down the thermostat for their heat pump or furnace and use their pellet stove to heat only the main areas of their home. “Similar to the concept of a hybrid car, the pellet stove does the primary heating with the furnace as a backup—working together to gain efficiencies,” according to Quadra-Fire.
For one Connecticut couple featured in This Old House magazine, using a pellet stove alongside their home’s old, inefficient oil furnace allowed them to save a whopping $2,200 a year. Plus, their pellet stove paid for itself in less than two years.
Forget about your grandparents’ bulky old pellet stove—today’s models are sleek and stylish. Modern pellet stoves are designed with both form and function in mind, adding a touch of elegance while keeping your home warm and cozy.
Some new pellet stoves even produce a flame for added ambience. “If you like the look of a fire, try to find a unit with a good flame pattern and a large viewing glass,” advises Vandervort. “You can get ceramic logs that help disperse the flames and give the fire a more traditional look.”
Save Money on Pellet Stoves at Sunfire
Interested in buying a pellet stove or insert for your home? Visit Sunfire Energy Solutions today to browse our extensive selection of models from top brands including Quadra-Fire, St. Croix, and Hearthstone. Make your purchase by Dec. 31 to take advantage of the following two special offers:
- Save $300 on qualifying pellet stoves and inserts purchased in 2015 or 2016 by applying for the U.S. Biomass Tax Credit. This federal tax credit, which only lasts through Dec. 31, can help pay for energy-efficient stoves and inserts that burn plant-derived fuels and meet the 75 percent efficiency requirement for residential biomass heating products. Learn more about eligible products and how to apply for this tax credit at EnergyStar.gov.
- Save $400 on eligible Quadra-Fire pellet stoves and inserts. Quadra-Fire makes 32 different products that quality for the aforementioned $300 U.S. Biomass Tax Credit. The company also is giving out $100 coupons that can be combined with the tax credit for additional savings. Get your coupon at Quadra-Fire.com before this combo deal expires!
You have less than a month left to take advantage of the two deals listed above, so visit our showroom at 301 East Stephen Street in Martinsburg today to start shopping for your new pellet stove or insert.
Do you have additional questions about pellet stoves? Call Sunfire at 304-267-3029 to talk to one of our expert sales representatives.
Sunfire Energy Solutions is a one-stop shop for grills, outdoor furniture, hot tubs, hearth products, and HVAC products and installation. We serve customers in Berkeley, Jefferson, and Morgan counties in West Virginia, as well as in nearby counties in Virginia, Maryland, and Pennsylvania. Learn more at www.sunfireenergysolutions.com.