My Almost Carbon Neutral Home Heating

About a month ago, I embarked on a journey that would make some pretty big holes in our recently purchased home. It would also make some good sized holes in our savings account.  Hopefully it keeps me from making that big theoretical hole in the ozone any bigger.  That’s what carbon neutral is all about, right?

After our first start to a typical Wisconsin winter on propane heat, it didn’t take long for me to want to find alternative ways to heat the home.  Conserving heat would bring the biggest savings, but with kids and a puppy the cold air is constantly finding ways to rush into the house while someone is standing in the open door way trying to remember what they wanted to ask on their way out.   I like the idea of being environmentally friendly but only so much control is in my hands.

So I installed a wood furnace and it was a lot of work.  In our two story house, the made in USA DAKA furnace sits in our basement and is tied into our forced air furnace to distribute the warm air.  With no existing chimney we had to go up through our first floor living room, second floor bedroom closet, through the attic and out the roof.  This meant about 30 feet of insulated, chimney pipe and 4 holes each about a foot wide in the house, 1 for each floor and the roof.  Some hardwood floor was pulled up, some carpeting and obviously had to cut through that very important moisture barrier called the roof.

This whole process would have been much easier had I decided to do it in summer where I could take my time and work in better climate.  Of course that isn’t what I did though and I found a wonderful 40 degree day in January in Wisconsin to do the roof work.  If you are not familiar with the frozen tundra up here, that isn’t very typical.  So I’ll take it and appreciate it!  My determination was to quickly get the furnace in so that I could take advantage of it as much as possible in this winter.  With it being done mid January I think that means I have about 7 months of winter left!

ok.  It’s not really that bad here.

After blood sweat and experimentation with an AC current relay, the furnace is now running and we had a pile of wood delivered.  I think we may have gotten less than we thought we should have but unless I am willing to stack it all, I can’t really prove that.  The logs sure go into the furnace faster than I would have thought too.  I am still trying to figure out the balance of the damper control and the draft regulator to prevent heat that I could capture and use for heat from escaping through the chimney.

And if you are wondering about the picture of the lift…I am a wimp. I hate heights and there was no way I was risking climbing from a ladder onto a slippery roof.  So I splurged and rented a boom lift.  Even more so than the convenience was how much fun it was for my brother, my brother in law and myself.

Yes, with the gas to pull the lift to my house, it wasn’t very carbon neutral.  And the electricity to power the blower motor is not very carbon neutral.  So as the haters are hating I would just like to be thankful for the nice wood furnace I have and think about the fact I might be making some positive difference.

Check back for more specific details on the installation process.

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