Our life living off the land in our log cabin, breathing fresh mountain air, and getting back to basics.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Wood vs. Electric Heat

Several years ago, we were here at the cabin for Christmas (visiting during my holiday break from work, before we lived here).  A snowstorm knocked out the power for 24+ hours and we quickly discovered that a log cabin heated solely by a fireplace remains cold, unless you are sitting on the hearth.  A fireplace is an extremely inefficient means of heating.  That fact became extremely obvious as we sat in the cabin shivering, feeling the cool air drawn through the cabin wall logs, into the cabin, by the fireplace air flow, up and out the chimney.  It was a mutual and  instantaneous decision to install a wood burning stove for future heating purposes.

Prior to this time, we used our electric baseboard heaters in addition to the fireplace to heat the cabin.  Together they seemed to do the job.  But electric heat is extremely drying, and I found my skin cracking and my nose dry all the time.  I never made the connection between the heat and my skin though, I always thought it was the cold and dry weather that caused the drying. 

Jump to the present...

A few weeks ago, we unintentionally performed an experiment that would reinforce our decision to heat with wood.  Over Thanksgiving, we went to Florida to be with family.  We were gone for 2 weeks, and left the baseboard heaters on at 48 degrees (the lowest we could go) to keep the inside from freezing.  Yes, we did winterize the pipes too!  

We get our electric bill and it is double the usual cost.  Both Johny and I were a little perplexed, until we realized what had occurred.  The cost increase was the result of having the baseboard heaters on for 2 weeks at 48 degrees!  I was shocked.  The outside temperature wasn't even that cold while we were gone!

Conclusion: the purchase of a wood burning stove for heating purposes proves to be the right decision!!!  Not only is it less cost, well, except for the manual labor to collect and chop the wood, with my cast iron kettle of water steaming moisture into the air, my skin is not dry!  Well worth the investment.  I should add we also sealed the spaces between the outside logs of the cabin, and the spaces between the ceiling boards, so we now retain heat much more effectively.

Don't you love it when you realize that the decisions you made were the right ones?  

Thanks for reading my blog, you are the best f/f/r/s/f's, see you tomorrow,


Powell River Books said...

We love our wood stove. Our cabin is wood frame construction with insulation in the walls. However, the floor is 3/4" plywood on top of our floating cedar deck, no insulation. It takes quite a while to warm the cabin up after we've been away, but once the walls and floor absorb the heat, it's easier to keep warm. Like you, we always have a pot of water steaming away ready for washing, but like you said, the side benefit is moisture in the air. Right now I am sneezing, have a dry nose and headaches from all the electric and gas fire heat in my Mom's condo. I went out and bought a humidifier to see if that would help. Wish I had my trusty little stove. - Margy

Dad/Pepere said...

It may be a wood stove, but it gives off that nice warm glow like a fireplace. Great decision. Hugs!

Lise said...

Hope the humidifier works Margy!

I know dad, we love it! Hugs back!