Saturday, November 23, 2013

Turning up the Heat

When we bought this house, we were happy that there was a huge wood stove in the great room.  When we lived at Aspen Meadows, we were able to heat the house in the winter with our wood stoves.  The wood stove here at Oak Creek is the same brand, Vermont Castings, as we had in our bedroom at Aspen Meadows.  We hardly used that stove because, despite being very small, it put out a ton of heat.  Our bedroom would go from cold in the early evening when I lit the kindling, to warm while I took a bath, to sweltering when we went to bed.  We like sleeping in a cold room so usually I took a quick shower and skipped the fire.

The house here at Oak Creek is not well insulated.  Sure, there are double pane windows -- with gaps where they don't close all the way.  There is no central air downstairs.  Since the weather turned cold, the house has turned icy.  When I arrive home from work the house is in the mid-to-low 50s.  Brett is wearing sweats, in his recliner, with his fuzzy blanket covered in pictures of the grandkids, pulled up to his neck.  I shiver out of my work clothes and into my sweats.  I light a fire in the wood stove before starting dinner.  The wood stove has solid cast iron doors that can be opened with a curved screen snugged in tight against the opening.  I love hearing the wood crack and spit.  When the power went out the other night, the firelight danced around the dark room.  But the fire never gets very warm.  By the time we go to bed, four hours later, the great room is barely scratching 70F.  Brett is still under his blanket (the heat never reaches the office), and I stay on the couch under my own blankets.

My parents are coming for Christmas.  While a cold house is not my favorite thing, it absolutely is not acceptable for guests.  My parents both like to be warm; who doesn't?  This morning, Brett and I bought a couple area heaters.  One for the TV room/office and one for the dining room.  We can't be shivering into our Christmas dinner and Brett needs to be able to watch football without his teeth chattering.

We also looked for a replacement screen for the wood stove.  The screen is torn and bent and, well, ugly.  There are three wood stove stores in town -- and they were all very busy.  We were told to get the serial number and a screen could be ordered for us.  Back home, I found the information on the back of the stove, fired up my iPad and started researching.

We have an antique (well, circa 1980 antique) that is no longer made.  The model we have was deemed to be too large for residential use, given the high heat it emits.  Seriously?  I kept reading.  The stove can be used two ways; as a fireplace with the screen or as a heating unit with the doors closed.  I found an owners manual online (don't you love the internet?) and read the instructions on how to get the maximum amount of heat.  I got a merry fire going, shut the front doors, opened the side door and piled it high with more wood.  I shut the side door, closed the damper and opened the temperature thing-a-ma-jig halfway.

It cranked out the heat.  Within an hour, it was pushing 90F in the great room.  Now I need to learn how to regulate this monster.  ...a nice problem to have.  And I don't need to worry about keeping the house toasty warm for my parents.


  1. yay for internet and knowing how to use what you have!

  2. At least if it gets too warm you can crack a window a little, it is easier to cool a room down a little then to be cold and try to get warm.

  3. Wood stoves are the best! Glad you found out how to use it. If you turn the damper down to almost closed at night before going to bed, it will stay warm all night and you will have coals to get the fire going the next morning.

  4. That looks a lot like the one I grew up with. Parents swapped it out a few years ago for a more efficiant that meets the higher codes enforced.... I loved the old one, but oh If I could have, I would have taken the old one and made it into an outdoor fireplace...

  5. Glad you got it figured out - it's nice to be able to get warm. We had a Vermont Castings stove back in the long ago, and it was a thing of beauty and worked very well.

  6. Looks cozy and warm in there :)


  7. We have a non insulated house in Boston and our heating bills are huge. We've purchased space heaters that have conked out in one season.

    What space heater did you purchase? It looks handsome.

  8. We're struggling to come to grips with heating this house, too. It has electric radiators, which EVERYONE says are very expensive to run, so we've been trying to keep them low and boost the heat with the fire. That's all very well until you're out for the day and come back home to a freezing house as the radiators take ages to warm the place up! Sunday night, I was so cold I couldn't sleep. The the temp in the bedroom was a chilly 53F and the living room was marginally better at 62F. Suffice to say, I'd rather spend a few more euros and not sit there shivering! And I think a wood stove in a second room would be a great idea!


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