Alternative Heat Part of the Solution as Americans Increase Efficiency
It’s difficult to go a day without hearing about the importance of a more energy-efficient future and the need to develop alternative energy. This type of talk is nothing new, as concerns about where we get our energy and how much we are using have been front and center since at least the 1970s, when an oil crisis was in full swing and global warming became a real concern.
So it’s a fair question to ask: Has decades of encouragement to become more efficient made any real impact toward how much energy Americans use? For many years, energy use in America continued to rise, but more recent evidence suggests that things may be headed in the other direction.
One of the areas where Americans have steadily improved is residential energy efficiency. Since 1980, American homes have become more efficient. Despite the fact that more homes continue to be built, the amount of energy we use in our homes has steadily declined, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. And that trend isn’t expected to slow anytime soon, as the EIA expects energy use to continue to fall through 2035, even though there will be more homes, and they will be larger.
So what’s causing Americans to use less energy in their homes? A big factor has been innovations in heating systems to make them more efficient, and alternative heat is most definitely a part of the equation.
The evolution of wood and pellet heat
Prior to the 20th century, wood heat was far and away the nation’s leading heat source, with 90 percent of homes using it, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. But then fossil fuels offered a cheaper and more efficient means of home heating – funny to think that fossil fuels were once the alternative heat source. Fireplaces became something to gather around and enjoy in the living room, rather than a main source of heat. But now wood heat – and heat from other combustible biofuels– has emerged again as a viable heat source and environmentally friendly form of alternative energy.
In traditional fireplaces without energy-efficient features, a good portion of the heat generated by the fire escapes the home and the wood is not consumed in the most efficient manner. But an energy-efficient wood-burning stove or corn stove can capture the majority of the heat produced during the burn, using fuel efficiency and producing very little air pollution in the process.
While today’s super-efficient wood-burning stoves make traditional cord wood a viable fuel source, pellet stoves take efficiency to a whole new level, and offer owners a multitude of options for alternative heat sources. For example, Magnum pellet stoves can run on corn, wood pellets or other biomass pellets, allowing you to choose what’s more affordable and available in your neck of the woods.
Pellet stoves also don’t require the constant monitoring of a fireplace. All our Magnum pellet stoves provide at least 40 hours of heat when fully loaded, so there’s no reason to stand by waiting to place another log on the fire.
So as more Americans look for ways to make their homes more efficient, these new takes on an old-fashioned heat source provide an attractive alternative. Whether you decide on a corn stove to provide supplemental heat to your home or decide to power you entire home with alternative heat by installing a pellet furnace, you can take heart in the fact that you’re helping move America toward a more energy-independent future.