Safer Home Heating: Wood Stoves and Pellet Stoves

Logs on the fire

Wood stoves and pellet stoves (which burn compressed sawdust) are becoming a popular alternate heating source. They’re believed to cut energy costs and be environmentally friendly. Even the federal government is encouraging their use, offering a 30 percent tax rebate in 2009 and 2010 for purchases of wood or pellet stoves that meet a 75 percent efficiency requirement.

Like all heating equipment, though, they must be used with care. Heating equipment is involved in more than 64,000 home structure fires every year, which cause 540 civilian deaths. If you are heating with a wood or pellet stove:

  • Be sure it’s properly installed, complying with manufacturer recommendations and local codes for installation and use. Make sure your stove has at least 36 inches clearance from anything that can burn, and proper floor support.
  • Wood stoves should be burned hot twice a day for 15-30 minutes to reduce the amount of creosote buildup.
  • Burn only the materials for which your stove is designed. Never burn charcoal indoors. Burning charcoal can give off lethal amounts of carbon monoxide.
  • Check this U.S. Fire Administration document for more detailed home heating safety tips.

Remember, wood stoves and pellet stoves are designed for heating. Cooking stoves should never be used for heating.

Read about Safer Home Heating: Space Heaters