You are thinking about a furnace replacement and are wondering if you could get away with using a wood burning stove instead of a furnace. Certainly, some homeowners do heat their houses with wood. From fireplaces to wood burning stoves, it isn’t unheard of to rely on wood as a source of heat rather than gas or electricity. But is a wood burning stove the right choice for your home, or for anyone in the Sonoma, California area?
Wood Burning Stoves in the Bay Area: A Dying Breed?
As with any other purchasing decision, there are a few different factors to consider before buying a wood burning stove as your next furnace replacement. It’s worth noting, for instance, the wood fireplaces and wood burning stoves are both banned in new buildings in Sonoma. The Bay Area Air Quality Management District instituted this ban across the Bay Area in 2015, claiming that wood fires were the top source of air pollution in the area during the winter. So, if you are building a new house and wondering if you could heat it with a wood burning stove instead of a furnace, the answer is no.
That’s not to say that nobody can heat their homes with wood in the Bay Area. On the contrary, the Bay Area Air Quality Management District rules have no say in what a person does in their home when they own it. If you have owned your house for 20 years and need to replace a dying furnace, you can consider a wood burning stove. However, it’s also important to realize that the ban doesn’t only apply to brand new buildings. If you plan on selling your home or otherwise transferring it to a new owner, you will, at that time, be required to comply with the ban. In other words, you or the new owner would be expected to remove the wood burning stove or replace it with a “federally certified” wood burning stove. The prospect of replacing this expensive appliance would likely hurt the resale appeal of your property.
If you are still interested in purchasing a wood burning stove, you should take time to learn about fireplaces and stoves that are compliant with the Bay Area Air Quality Management District regulations. These units are efficient and generate minimal pollution, hence their acceptability. You can find these models—either shopping in Sonoma stores or online—but you need to be careful about what you buy. Otherwise, you will end up dealing with the consequences when you sell or transfer your home.
The Other Pros and Cons of Wood Burning Stoves as Furnace Replacements
The goal of the Bay Area Air Quality Management District is to phase out the use of wood burning stoves and fireplaces in the Bay Area within the next 30 years. Certainly, this commitment—and the law that the district is using to enforce clean air rules regarding wood fires—makes it seem that wood burning stoves are a dying breed. What if they weren’t, though? Would a wood burning stove be a good way to heat your house in the wintertime?
Overall, there are good reasons why wood burning stoves are already kind of a dying breed in homes throughout the United States. While wood fires offer a pleasing natural heat and glow that trumps any gas furnace in terms of ambience, they also have their fair share of drawbacks. Pollution is obviously a big issue, as the Bay Area ban shows. The other big problem has to do with simple convenience. With a furnace, you can set the thermostat and forget about it. You know that your home will be consistently heated to the desired temperature. With a wood burning stove, it’s not only more difficult to achieve the temperature you want, but you also need to maintain the fire to continue getting heat. If the fire burns out, your house is without heat. This issue is less pressing in California than it would be in a northern state with cold winters, but it’s still a hassle. You need to go through the manual process of getting firewood and building a fire any time you want heat. You also can’t heat your home if you aren’t there, which can be a problem if you go on vacation for a few weeks in the wintertime.
Ultimately, there are great things about wood burning stoves, but you shouldn’t rely on one as a furnace replacement. At most, use a wood burning stove as an occasional source of heat and comfort, in the way that most people use gas or wood fireplaces. For primary house heating, stay with the tried and true furnace solution. It’s more reliable, requires less work from you, and won’t violate any Bay Area ordinances. Contact us for more information.
Valley Comfort conducts heating and furnace replacement services in the following communities: Santa Rosa, Napa, Rohnert Park, Healdsburg, St Helena, Calistoga and Windsor.