Why is it always such a difficult process to merge form and function? Since moving into my new home Upstate full-time, I have discovered an ugly fact. I was aware that this new home heats with oil (much to my chagrin and irritation) and I assumed down the line I would have to make the necessary environmentally friendly and energy-efficient changes for our budget and my peace of mind. What I didn’t realize, is that to fill my 275 gallon tank of oil, I would pay $800.00. I also didn’t realize that this 275 gallon tank would last me a month. This is not cranking the heat, but keeping the indoor temperature around 65 degrees. My last house had 3 smart heating solutions. It had a propane back up for creating instant heat when coming inside, it had zoned baseboard heat (rarely used, but on thermostats, convenient and efficient) and it had a wood stoves. All this combined to a very inexpensive heating source. We were also weekender’s and the old home was 1100 square feet as opposed to 2000. It is something to seriously consider when looking for a home, especially larger homes than 2000 square feet. I just think back to the old mansions I had been pondering!
Fast forward to full-time living and working from home, with a more expensive oil based central heating system, and you are slapped with $800.00 a month during the winter. Well considering our mortgage payments are not much more than that, we cannot “wait” to make the changes, we have to do it…well…NOW. I needed to get a woodstove insert for our large fireplace to act as a furnace/primary heat source.
I recently visited a local shop, and was quite disappointed by the lack of modern or contemporary wood stove inserts for your fireplace. I assumed I may have to pay more for a design that would aesthetically work in our modern home- but I assumed there would at least be one option. Though not at this store, there are some cool modern free standing wood stoves and fireplaces, see my URBAN JANE post) At this local store I found country wood stoves (great for a different style home) heavy cast iron stoves that protruded far out of the fireplace, and then typical wood stoves with scrolling and ornate details. The salesman suggested I just place one of these wood stoves in front of my fireplace. These solutions are fine for a farmhouse, or an older home- but a home that is about clean lines and modern minimalism an ornate wood stove sitting in front of a linear limestone fireplace, just can’t work.
I was then shown gas fireplace inserts to use propane with. Now propane is the more environmentally friendly option over wood (to some)since it burns cleaner and less carcinogenicity, but it is not necessarily a renewable “green” resource. It costs about the same to heat as with wood, (Unless you scour for your own decent fallen trees and cut it all yourself and stack 50 cords out back for years down the road.) These models were much slicker looking, and granted they come with no muss or fuss, less maintenance, and can be controlled by a thermostat and timer just like a regular furnace. However, you don’t get that real fire feeling or sound or smell. Is it worth it?
I decided there must be a more attractive wood stove insert out there than this shop was showing me (even though they claimed there was not) When I asked him about Wittus (whom they did not carry) he claimed they did not make a wood stove insert like that, and that in Europe they will heat with 3-4 free-standing wood stoves. I then realized I needed to do more of my own research since I knew for a fact that there were some great models in Europe, and there must be some available here to purchase in the U.S.
Below are a few models I have found that are contemporary to modern and offer a high BTU output. They should be able to heat a 2000-2500 square foot home in the winter. However, remember they will not heat your water, so you are still left with your oil heater if you don’t replace it for a propane or electric hot water heater.
The first model is a Wittus wood burning insert- and though expensive (I have read approximately $4,000.00) At $800.00 a month for oil, it would be worth it.
The Optifire Zero Clearance Fireplace (up to 50,000 BTU and heats up to 2500 square feet in the greenest manner possible) and the H530 insert (up to 30,000 BTU and heats up to 1500 square feet respectively)
The next is Morsø 5660 NA woodstove Fireplace Insert (up to 50,000 BTU and up to 2200 square feet) The viewing window for the fire is smaller and the surround is larger, but this is also a more environmentally friendly stove. It runs approximately $3100.00
They also make another less expensive model which has the same BTU and space heating qualities but it slightly smaller for $2750.00
The last woodstove insert is the FPX 33 Elite Plus Wood Insert wood insert (heats up to 2000 square feet) but does not seem to display all the green qualities. The price seems to be a bit lower though, in the $2000.00 range before add on’s.
Now for the Gas Fireplace’s. These typically cost less money but depending on whom you speak to are more environmentally friendly, are more fuss free, yet also don’t kick out the jams like the wood stoves do, although they claim the same BTU and square foot coverage.
The FPX 34 DVL GSR Insert (up to 40,000 BTU and heats up to 2000 square feet)
two different surrounds with decent looking fronts, both the same fireplace
The next is the Avalaon 33 DVI Gas Fireplace- heats up to 2000 square feet and 40,000 BTU’s
The last is the Napoleon Inspiration GDI44 heats up to 2500 square feet at 44,000 BTU’s- Remember these are just the inserts you see (not the “fireplace hearths”)