Meet Walt Shiel with Slipdown Mountain Publications LLC and the author of the blog, From the Publishing Trenches. He has heated exclusively, or almost so, with wood for over a decade in lower and upper Michigan, Mississippi, and California mountains.
Shiel says there are three advantages of the wood stove in his area:
The ability to keep his home toasty warm with the typical high winds and cold temperatures. Sometimes a furnace is just not enough.
During power outages, it gives him a source for warmth and for cooking.
He and his family keep a big ceramic kettle filled with water on it all winter. The water slowly boils away and humidifies the house, unlike a central furnace that dries out the air.
Burning wood currently saves the family over $100.00 a month in energy costs.
A woodstove provided about 25% of their heat in northeastern Mississippi for three winters (1982-85) in a one-story, A-frame approximately 1800 sq ft house using a fireplace insert with blower. He estimates that they saved about 20% on their heating bill.
Walt also heated two winters in Tehachapi Mountains of southern California with only wood (1987-89) in a one-story of about 1200 sq ft using an excellent fireplace insert. "The insert actually extended outward a bit over a foot onto the hearth and did an excellent job of heating the place", he says. "Except for the back bedroom where we used a small space heater when the temps dropped below about 25F."
Currently, Walt lives on the Michigan's Keweenaw Peninsula (northwestern Upper Peninsula). The house is a two-story plus partially finished attic of about 2200 sq ft (house is about 100 yrs old) on a 40-acre farm that's about 50/50 woods and pasture. "We have a new, efficient, propane-fueled central heating system and a centrally located convection style, airtight wood stove." He explains, "we only run the furnace overnight and in late spring or early fall…We burn about 7 cords of wood each season Judging from the costs of running the furnace in spring and fall, I estimate it would cost us an extra $125-150 per month to heat it without the wood stove."