Human beings love gathering around a fire. We enjoy the heat and light a fire provides. As the weather turns cooler we relish curling up in front of a fireplace or woodstove. Warmth is a creature comfort we hold dear to our hearts.
In my home we have a wood stove. On cold nights in January there is nothing better than sitting next to a crackling fire. Leaving the doors open on the stove means we burn more wood and lose heat up the chimney. Enjoyment vs. practicality, a very human dilemma.
Today many people are looking to heat their homes in ways that are cost effective and environmentally friendly. If you are building a new home or adding an addition to your existing home, you might want to consider a masonry heater as the heat source. At the environmental education center where I work part time I was introduced to this type of heating system and thought it was a brilliant idea.
Terra Dei, Camp Lutherlyn’s sustainable homestead, has a masonry heater that is the home’s centerpiece. This type of heating system burns wood rapidly, leading to complete combustion — a clean burn with little smoke or tar. In more traditional ways of burning wood inside the home, like in a fireplace, incomplete combustion occurs —smoldering fires.
Unlike traditional fireplaces that lose a substantial amount of heat through the chimney, the masonry heater stores heat. By trapping heat inside the firebrick channels it slowly radiates heat towards the outside walls of the masonry heater. The heat is then released into the home.
The masonry heater is a sensible choice for home heating because the design is energy efficient and environmentally sound.
From more information on masonry heaters visit http://www.mha-net.org/
By Jill Eudaly
photos by Jill Eudaly