Energy efficiency—it’s quite the buzzword these days, especially when it comes to home heating and cooling, but do appliances labeled as energy efficient really benefit the environment and our wallets? Expert economists and environmentalists have debated this topic for decades. The answer is: it depends.
“In practice, a cost-effective improvement in energy efficiency operates like a decrease in price,” according to Matthew Kotchen, a professor of environmental economics and policy at Yale University, in an article for The New York Times. “When you can drive more miles for every gallon of gas and run your household with lower utility bills, the price of these energy services is lower.”
However, Kotchen warns that there can be a rebound effect with energy-efficient products: “Basic economics tells us that lower prices increase demand, meaning that people tend to drive more when it costs less to go each mile. People are also more likely to purchase and use things like air-conditioners when they cost less to operate,” he writes. “These so-called rebound effects eat into the initial energy savings of efficiency—because when things become more efficient, we tend to use them more.”
Don’t let the possibility of the rebound effect keep you from upgrading to appliances that are more energy efficient, though. According to Kotchen, “rebound effects offset only a fraction of the environmental benefits,” and being mindful of your energy usage after you switch can help further reduce your carbon footprint and your utility bills.
Home heating is one area where energy-efficient appliances actually can have a major impact. Heating systems use more energy and cost more than any other appliance in your home—typically accounting for up to 42 percent of your utility bills—according to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). Decreasing the amount of energy needed to heat your home, therefore, can save you a nice chunk of change each winter.
No matter what fuels your home’s heating system—electricity, gas, or wood—you can potentially reduce your energy usage by upgrading to a high-efficiency heating appliance.
Take wood stoves, for example. Because they’re powered by a renewable resource, you might be tempted to keep on using your 30-year-old wood stove, but switching to a new energy-efficient model can actually save you time (or money) spent chopping, hauling, and stacking firewood. Newer wood stoves also are better for the environment than older models. “Stoves manufactured before 1990 burn wood less efficiently—wasting firewood, polluting the air in your neighborhood, and creating dust in your home,” according to an article on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) website.
Read on to learn more about the benefits of new energy-efficient wood stoves—plus find out how you can save up to $400 on purchases of eligible wood stoves at Sunfire Energy Solutions through the end of 2016.
More Burning Power
Wood stove technology has come a long way in the last few decades. Today’s models are designed to maximize efficiency, generating more heat using less fuel. According to the EPA, new wood stoves are up to 50 percent more energy efficient than old wood stoves; they also use about a third less wood to produce the same amount of heat.
The world’s top wood stove manufacturers, including our retail partners Quadra-Fire, Heat & Glo, Jøtul North America, and Blaze King, continue to push wood stoves to higher levels of efficiency. Quadra-Fire, for example, equips all of its wood stoves with its patented Quadra-Fire Four-Point Burn System: “Four distinct combustion cycles maximize fuel-to-heat conversion by fully burning every log while re-burning gases and smoke up to four times,” according to a post on the company’s blog. “That means fewer trees to cut or cords to buy, less particulate emissions, and far less ash to clean up. If Paul Bunyan would’ve had one of these stoves, he could have cut his work in half!”
Because they burn so efficiently, most modern wood stoves don’t need to be reloaded nearly as often as older models. In fact, some high-efficiency wood stoves can burn a single load of wood for up to 16 hours, according to Quadra-Fire in another post. That means less trips to the wood pile and, best of all, no waking up to a cold house because the fire went out in the middle of the night!
Available in a variety of sizes, today’s wood stoves are heat-producing powerhouses capable of heating small and large spaces. “Larger stoves can heat spaces and whole homes as large as 4,000 square feet,” according to Quadra-Fire.
While older wood stoves have a reputation for producing large amounts of soot and smoke, today’s wood stoves boast much lower emissions. “In the mid-1980s the U.S. government enlisted new standards for wood-burning appliances, requiring they burn cleaner and expel lower amounts of particulates into the outside air,” according to another post by Quadra-Fire.
Many modern wood stoves are EPA certified and comply with strict emissions and efficiency standards to reduce pollution and help control energy costs.
If your home already has a primary heating system, such as a heat pump or furnace, adding a wood stove can help you save money by zone heating. Simply turn down your thermostat, and then use your wood stove to heat only the main areas of your home or the room you’re currently using. You can save 10 to 40 percent on your annual heating costs that way, advises Wendy Paris in an article for House Logic.
Comfort and Style
There’s nothing like the warmth of a wood fire to keep you cozy on cold winter nights. Modern wood stoves, in addition to offering superior comfort, also can add style to a home. Forget about the clunky, smoke-belching wood stoves of the past. “Wood stoves manufactured today make stoves made as recent as 20 years ago look like something out of the dark ages,” according to Quadra-Fire. Most of the new wood stoves on the market are like works of art compared to older models.
How to Maximize the Efficiency of Your New Wood Stove
Once you’ve purchased your new energy-efficient wood stove, make the most of it by using only high-quality firewood that’s been properly cut, split, stacked, and dried. Hard woods including oak and maple will burn longer and produce more heat than softer woods such as pine or birch. Ultimately, though, it’s more important to use wood that’s been properly prepared than it is to get the hardest wood available, according to a guide by Jøtul. “Seasoning or drying your wood prior to burning is a key ingredient to a high efficiency, low emissions fire,” advises Jøtul. “Depending on the species, wood should be cut, split and allowed to dry under cover for six months to two years.”
Once it’s cut, firewood should be stored away from your house to prevent termite infestation. “The top of the pile should be covered, but leave the sides open so air can circulate,” advises the DOE. “If possible, store the wood a foot off the ground (on concrete blocks, for example) to keep it dry.”
Keep your wood stove functioning at peak performance levels by cleaning it regularly. “Cleaning out the inside of a wood stove with a wire brush periodically will help the wood-burning appliance heat more efficiently,” according to the DOE. “Even one-tenth of an inch of soot can drop the heat transfer efficiency of the metal by 50 percent.”
Score Serious Savings on Stoves at Sunfire Energy Solutions
Ready to purchase a new energy-efficient wood stove? Visit Sunfire Energy Solutions today to browse our extensive selection of models from top brands and to take advantage of a tax credit and a manufacturer coupon that can save you up to $400 on eligible purchases made before the end of 2016!
Here’s how to save:
- Save $300 on qualifying wood stoves 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 that burn plant-derived fuels and meet the 75 percent efficiency requirement for residential biomass heating products. Learn more about how to apply for this tax credit at EnergyStar.gov.
- Save $400 on eligible Quadra-Fire stoves, fireplaces, and inserts. Quadra-Fire makes 32 different products that quality for the $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 two months left to take advantage of the deals listed above, so visit our showroom at 301 East Stephen Street in Martinsburg today to start shopping for your new wood stove.
Questions? Call us 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.