Saturday, December 20, 2008

The butter is melting

We moved to Ohio from Tennessee about eleven or twelve years ago. The first few winters, I went outside as little as possible, usually in a full snowsuit. I got a lot of weird looks, but it kept me warm.

When we lived in the city, we had a huge house. Over 2000 sf, two stories plus attic and basement. A nightmare to heat. One year, thanks to the soaring price of natural gas, we kept the thermostat below 60 and lit two kerosene heaters. Our gas bill was still over $450 for a single month. We wore a lot of layers and slept under electric blankets.

When we moved to the country, our home here had originally had floor heat (buried inside concrete). Those pipes had long since rusted out, so no warm floors for us. We spoke with several heating contractors. The one that suggested we jackhammer up the floors and replace the pipes was probably the least helpful of the many that were here. The house has no basement or crawl space underneath and no attic, and also had no duct work. Most of the contractors weren't even interested in the job since it wasn't a plug-it-up-and-go type thing.

We finally ended up with a lovely forced air oil furnace and custom duct work. It put out wonderful heat, and the first winter here wasn't too bad. But we did run through the oil trying to keep the house comfortable.

Then the price of oil started going up, and up, and up. We relied more and more on the wood burning insert in our living room, and stopped buying oil. We learned to cut firewood. We learned which wood burns best and how to season it, etc.

Still, the back of the house was cold. We all use electric mattress pads, which seem to work better than electric blankets, but getting up at night was uncomfortable. We all wore heavy flannel pj's and socks to bed. Big Sis' room felt like a meat locker. I swear you could see your breath in there.

We decided this year that we would install a second wood burner. Due to the layout of the house, it had to go in the kitchen. We rearranged the kitchen to make room, bought the wood burner, and then bought the stovepipe and accessories (which ended up costing as much or more than the stove did).

Finally, my new stove is in. I am warmer than I have ever been (in winter) since I moved to Ohio. I am wearing short sleeves. It is so toasty in here that I may have to open a window. If I do, I'll shout to the world that IT'S WARM IN MY HOUSE!!

So warm, in fact, that the butter is melting. This is a wonderful thing, as just last week the butter on the counter was no softer than the butter in the fridge.

Tomorrow, we expect a wind chill of -17F. The new wood stove will get it's first real test with temps like that. I expect to still be toasty warm. ;)

Last Christmas, I got a new living room floor. This year, I got heat. Real heat. I just don't think it can get any better!


City Mouse said...

Aren't wood stoves glorious? It's the first thing we're going to be putting in our new house - even before the finishing work and drywall is done. We may not have walls, but we'll be warm!

S Vandemore said...

Another convert. Yay! We have two stoves on the second floor, four stoves on the first. Most are there because my hubby is somewhat a collector of woodstoves and add to the feel of our 100 year old farmhouse. We really only use use one -- our earth stove in the main room downstairs. They don't make 'em anymore. Was -3 here this a.m. with windchills to kill, but our house is right around 70F. Priceless.

Country Wife said...

Mouse, yes, they are wonderful! I don't know which is better: the lack of fumes, or the fact that I don't have to stress over how we will afford to refill the tank (as with the oil furnace).

Have you started wood stove shopping yet? Can't wait to see pics of yours!

Snow, oooooo all those woodstoves! **drools** I wish we'd had one when we lived in the city (a 100 year old home but smack in the middle of a LOT of 100 year old homes).

So far the wind chill is in the negatives, but we are still over 70F inside. *laughs* I'm wearing a tank top!! In December! In Ohio! Wooot!!

City Mouse said...

I've been looking at Jotul stoves (my favorite I think), and Vermont Castings. They are expensive, to say the least!

Chance said...

Yay, heat! I love the sustainability of wood heat. Around here, you can save a lot of money by getting a free firewood permit to cut your own downed wood from trees in the forest.

I highly recommend Jotuls, we got ours off craigslist cheap from a seller who had no idea what they were selling - they found it their basement when they moved into the new house. They even gave us a discount because it was "rusty". The rust was minor surface rust, and an afternoon with the sander and stove paint made it a showpiece.

Country Wife said...

Chance, Is the permit for cutting wood on public land? We cut our own here on our property, mostly dead trees or those taken down by storms.

Wow, you got lucky with finding that stove!! :)

Chance said...

@Country Life. The permit is for cutting downed wood in the national forest here and I lied, it actually isn't free anymore, the permit is 10/cord cut now.

We get our wood from the trees around our camp, mostly, but I long for the day when I have enough land to sustainabily harvest all my own heat.

Another place people get free wood is advertising on craigslist after big storms with headers such as "Free storm wood removal".

Nicole said...

i am soo glad that your house & your family are nice & toasty.
as for us over here in AUS its pretty warm here as well. if i left the butter out on the counter it would be melted down & we could just pour it on our bead LOL
hope you had a great Christmas :o)

Country Wife said...

Chance, that's a great idea about the storm wood removal!

Nicole, how warm is it there? We did actually get all the way up to 65F after Christmas. A record high for us. So much for my theory that this would be one of those winters with snow on the ground until spring.

Nicole said...

well we have been in the high 30'c {38 on boxing day} & i know thats not hot to some but anything over 25 & i start to shut down & go in slow mode. i just cant handle the heat.
bring on winter :o)