The Role of Fireplaces in Historic Preservation

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Picture of Burning Woodstove

Our woodstove hard at work.

Everyone knows that the winters in Northern New England are long, cold, and snowy. A fireplace is a great way to heat your home and beat back the winter-time blues. Unfortunately, as we drive around we’ve noticed that the use of a fireplace is much less common than one would imagine as witnessed by the lack of stacked cord wood. It seems you just can’t beat the convenience of fossil fuels–and we don’t just mean burning fossil fuels either.

Northern New England’s historic homes are energy hogs by today’s standards. They are difficult to retrofit with insulation and, thanks to years of settling or deferred maintenance, are often drafty around windows and doorways. To the modern homeowner, these are problems to be fixed and that is when we end up with vinyl-vandalism as they slap on vinyl siding or install vinyl windows.

However, as we’ve discovered, an easier and cheaper solution is to install a woodstove, or two, to simply beat the cold into submission. The picture above is our hardworking woodstove that has been running 24/7 since the cold arrived. What we have learned is that by itself it is sufficient to keep our home of 2,200 sq. ft. pretty comfortable with minimal supplement from our propane-fired radiators. Frankly, we are still in awe over how much heat can be produced by a single log of wood.

We are convinced that if more people used wood then there would be less demand for vinyl siding or windows and would be a boon for historic preservation. And thanks to advancing technology this would also include new wood pellet stoves and furnaces for those who don’t like the mess and upkeep of traditional woodstoves.

Also, you would be helping the local economy since wood-based fuel is, obviously, abundant and cheap in Northern New England. Fossil Fuels, on the other hand, come from out-of-state or out-of-country. The hardworking folks who locally supply firewood are not only your neighbors, but also help support other local merchants that you may rely on yourself. Wood is also a renewable resource.

What do you think–has the death of the good ol’fashioned woodstove contributed to the vinyl-vandalism of Northern New England?

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