When I came home from work last night the temperature outside was -11F. The wind was hardly blowing at all, maybe 4 to 5 mph. I think the low over night was about -18F. That made last nights wind chill factor -31 degrees.
What I'm trying to say is, its cold outside.
We use a pellet stove to supplement our heating. One down side of the model of stove we have is every 24 to 36 hours you have to shut the stove off in order to clean out the ash, or the stove will quit working correctly. It's past time to do that, and I've turned the stove off. I can hear the blower as the stove goes through its cool down process, somehow the house seems colder. The temperature clock that we have, says its not, but I'm still feeling at little chilled.
When I was a boy I read Jack London's short story, "To Build a Fire". That story is fresh in my mind whenever its cold and I need to build a fire. Which brings me to another point. There is something comforting about having a fire. I like camp fires. I like fireplaces. The light cast by a fire makes it seem warmer.
If you investigate it, an all enclosed stove that burns coal or wood, is a more efficient heating device. Even better than those options are heat pumps, gas furnaces or even electric heat. Some how I still enjoy the sight of a fire burning. It seems warmer, more cheerful and inviting than a happily efficient metal box in the basement blowing hot air throughout the house.
If it was up to me, and if my budget and she who also lives in my house, would allow it, I would opt for a soapstone wood stove with a large glass viewing area. I like the radiant heat provided by the soap stone and I would still get to watch my cheery fire.
The pellet stove does have its advantages. It was in the house when we bought it. It is easy to feed, a couple of trips a year to buy pellets and you're done. No endless weekends of cutting wood are required. Cleaning it is easy too, a vac and some glass cleaner and the stove is ready to go again. Since it has a glass window you can watch the fire, at least until it gets caked over with soot. It's not a bad compromise.
In the time it's taken me to type this my stove has finished cooling off. I can clean out the ash now. Outside the temp has come up, and the wind is hardly blowing at all. In the back of my mind I hear Jack saying, "a man must not fail in his first attempt to start a fire".
Is that a wolf's cry on the wind?