Saturday, December 4, 2010

Country Living Series: Heating with Wood

Though this blog is still in its infancy, I realized I had yet to actually write anything that really pertained to "country living." Now, the general plan for Carolina Country Living is to cover a hodge-podge of topics that interest me (and hopefully you), but I decided it's high time this blog lived up to its name, at least for one post!  For that reason, I've decided to start a series of periodic entries about aspects of living in the country. This is the first entry in that series.

I snuggled on the couch today, reading some lovely blogs (see my blog list for my favorites) and watching a beautiful snow fall. Though it was quite nippy outside, I was roasty-toasty thanks to a potbelly stove full of bone-dry white oak.

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!

Hi, I'm Erin, and I heat my house with a woodstove.  :)  Now, we're not so "country" here that heating with a woodstove is our only option. We do, in fact, have central heat and air, but we made the mistake three years ago when building this place of installing a gas furnace.

See,  this is what the living room and dining room area looks like at my house. 

Note the height of the ceiling--it extends beyond what I could even capture in the picture! We obviously didn't think through the ramifications of a 20-plus foot peak. All we saw were gorgeous timber beams. Silly us.  

Even with a several ton heating unit, the heat will run all day at 70 degrees but the air around you will feel lukewarm at best in since the hot stuff rises beyond the livable space.  And to add insult to injury, it costs an arm and a leg to keep the house tepid thanks to the ever-rising cost of liquid propane gas. 

After staying home with my baby in a chilly house for our first winter (and me turning into a miserable, cranky person who was always cold!), my husband and I decided something else had to be done; a woodstove was our answer

Ours, as you could probably tell from the photos, is a log house. The potbelly was a perfect fit for a cabin, plus we were working with a limited area of space and needed a stove that was more vertical that horizontal. 

Fits like a charm!  And even looks cute decorated for Halloween!

I won't go into the boring details of my husband building the hearth, or the installation of the stove, but suffice it to say, it was an arduous task that's ultimately been worthwhile. The stove is a simple cast-iron affair that throws some serious heat and we can now heat our entire home on wood alone. We'll flick on the heat every now and again, but there's nothing more satisfying that having a house warmed by fire, hearing the soft roar of the flames inside the fire box.

Before I start painting too romantic a picture of life with a woodstove, I do have to say heating with wood requires a willingness to do a good bit of manual labor. My husband built a simple woodshed in the spring of 2009 and we spent that month of May splitting and stacking wood we picked up for free via Craigslist ads for downed trees. We spent many a weekend in the early part of that year driving in rural parts of surrounding counties cutting up fallen trees. How's that for quality family time! :)  

This year, we were fortunate to find a huge oak that was struck by lightning on my parents' property, which is adjacent to our land. My husband chainsawed the tree apart, I carted the hunks of wood to our place, and then we split it last month. 

I'm sure some of you are thinking I'm out of my mind for doing so much just to heat my house. I may very well be, so I won't rule that out! However, I'm a pretty frugal person at heart, so apparently those sensibilities outweigh the desire to spend money on LP (which runs more than $3 a gallon these days!) or avoid hard work. And let me tell you, transporting and stacking wood is a full-body workout.

However, one aspect of living in the country, and having a country/self-sufficient mentality, means having to work to get some of the things you want.  Working in the woods (and having my sweet little boy by my side slashing limbs and exerting all that boy energy), enjoying the bounty of Mother Nature as I listen to the calls of birds and observe other woodland creatures, and using my strength and and able-bodiedness (and literally feeling it to my bones on some days) to help provide for my family's comfort are all very satisfying endeavors. But knowing I am able to heat my house through my own work? To be self-sufficient in that realm when so many of us take for granted that our homes are comfortably warm? That epitomizes life in the country to me!


  1. Those wood stoves put out a ton of heat. That is how we heated the house in the mountains last weekend and it went from freezing to the tropics in no time. Did you find a tree?


  2. Wow!! Your home is absolutely BEAUTIFUL. So big and roomy. I love it.

    Excuse me while I get my things...I moving in!!!!

    I love the smell of wood fires. Yummy!


  3. Hi Erin, thanks so much for stopping by and your kind words today :) I love your home. I have always dreamed of a post and beam with those soaring ceilings... I am envious! Happy Thursday! See you around!! :)

  4. I love it! I want to be more self sufficient one day too :) Me & hubby want to buy some land and be one with nature (LOL) when we're a bit older (prob retired). My grandparents have a lovely wood stove and I miss standing in front of it at Christmastime and enjoying the smell and warmth. I'd settle for a plain ole fireplace right now!

  5. I'm just thrilled that you came out of lurking and left me a comment! I LOVE your blog!!! I have yet to post on the whole woodstove lifestyle (had that in mind for January) but you said it so well. Really enjoyed your race horse stories too. I lived in Lexington for a short time and worked the big Keenland sales... Seems we have lots in common and I can't wait to explore your older posts. I'm following!
    EnJoY your Christmas,


Thank you for taking the time stop by and say hello! I enjoy reading each and every comment left at Carolina Country Living.