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Wood burning stoves
Wood burning stoves
Over the years, wood burning stoves have become safer and more efficient. And as heating oil and natural gas prices have increased, they have become more economical for many consumers.

One gallon of heating oil has a heat content of about 138,690 British thermal units, according to the DOE. The price for a gallon of heating oil is expected to jump to $4.34 nationwide this winter, which would give it a price per million Btu of $31.29.

A cord of wood, by contrast, costs roughly $200 and has an approximate heat content of 22 million Btu. That gives it a price per million Btu of only $9.

Homeowners can expect to pay at least $750 for a wood burning appliance and installation fees start at $250, according to consumerreports.org.

In contrast to old fashioned masonry fireplaces, which often suck heat out of a room, modern woodstoves generate more heat by burning gases and particulates before they can fly up the chimney.

Certain models are designed to fit inside an existing fireplace, which reduces installation costs.

But wood burning stoves are not for everyone. The cost of transporting firewood, given high gas prices, can make it more expensive for urban dwellers, notes Martin Kushler of the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy.

Despite improved efficiency, wood burning stoves still contribute to air pollution. And while wood is a renewable resource it is not as sustainable as solar or geothermal heat.

NEXT: Pellet burning stoves

Last updated August 22 2008: 11:56 AM ET
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