It would have been nice to have been able to put "Wood Stove Insert: Check" as the title for this post, but it would have been inaccurate. We are now, however, the proud owners of a wood stove insert that we ordered today, but which will be officially ordered by the salesman on Monday. We, however, have done our part of the ordering: we saved up the money and chose the one we felt that we could best afford and still be able to feed the thing, (we already checked out the prices for cords of wood) and we paid for it in full. Currently, we have a gas stove insert. A free-standing stove would have been nice, but impossible without a lot more expense.
As necessary as we felt that this purchase was, it was still a difficult decision to make because of the expense involved. Then, when I looked at the brochure that the wood stove salesman left behind, I started wondering if the wood stove that we were considering really had any cooking surface at all, because in the picture, the top of the stove looked curved. The salesman had assured us that there was a five-inch lip on the model that we were considering, but I wanted to see it and be sure. We loaded up the children and took off to the store. He showed me on a different model of stove how the top really is, and it turns out that the stove has a flat ledge that didn't show up (at least I couldn't see it) that would work nicely to heat things up in a small pan in an emergency. It would be nice to have more room on the lip of the stove to cook, but we will just have to make sure that we have multiple pans that will fit on the surface, so that we can make the most of the heat if necessary.
We could have ordered a more expensive model that puts out more heat, and is a little more efficient, but there would have been little advantage to it because of the way that our house is configured. Fortunately, the gentleman we were dealing with had originally come out to our house, and pointed out that both models would basically heat the same amount of area. So, while we plan to start using the stove as soon as necessary once we get it, in an emergency, when it would be our only source of heat, we would probably limit ourselves to that space and do all right. It's a large space, but definitely not the entire house. It could, if necessary, be blocked off with blankets in the doorways to keep the heat confined more efficiently. This is all new to me, so we'll have to see how it works out. Of course, you always hope that you won't find yourself in an emergency in the first place...
So we soon will be the owners of an alternative energy source. This is good, because winter was particularly brutal in our area last year, and hopefully this will also decrease our energy costs in the long run if we have a repeat of that kind of weather. We saw an ad in the paper about aspen firewood, and we saw a lot where they were selling firewood today, at the same price/cord as in the paper, although I don't know what kind of wood that it was. If anyone has any advice/ knowledge about the best kind of firewood, feel free to share--it would be appreciated. One of the best things about the wood stove insert? We now have more options. You gotta love choices... :)