Where we live, in the Colorado Rocky Mountains, winter typically lasts from October to mid or late April. Heating and cooking on a wood cookstove just makes sense for our homestead.
If you have ever been to a house where a wood stove is in use, you’ll know why we like it. Additionally, being able to stand or sit next to the radiant heat of a wood stove on a frigid winter day is so nice.
We do have a gas (propane) furnace, but we would be cold and broke if we had to rely on it for heat. Consequently, we rarely, if ever turn it on. This saves a lot of money on propane.
Of course, you also have the chore of cutting, splitting, and stacking several cords of firewood each summer. However, the effort pays off when you are warm and toasty in the winter.
Firewood for Heating and Cooking
Living just feet from thousands of acres of National Forest does make it easier to obtain firewood. Then again, if you do not live where firewood is easy to come by, you might have to buy it from someone. Sometimes whole logs can be bought and delivered to your home, where you could then cut into rounds and split.
Heating and cooking with a wood cookstove exclusively take considerably more effort than turning on a thermostat or an oven knob. There are pros and cons, but for us, the pros outweigh the cons for sure.
What we Like about Heating and Cooking with a Wood Stove
Heating with wood is far more cost-effective than paying for propane or electric heat. Propane is the only gas available to most rural properties. Heating with electricity would not be an option due to the high cost.
If your homestead is in a warmer climate with shorter winters, heating and cooking with a wood cookstove may only be an option for a brief season.
Peace of mind in an emergency. If the power goes out, we are still warm. Since we have a wood cookstove, we can also still cook and bake.
You’ll get plenty of exercise. Falling trees, cutting into rounds, splitting and stacking all makes for a nice workout. Even hauling in the wood each day and starting the fire will keep you active in the dead of winter. We do use and recommend this cart.
Did I mention the radiant heat? I spend a lot of time standing right up next to the fire. The ambiance of the flames lends a cozy feeling all winter long. There really is no comparison. It’s like a campfire without the smoke.
Cons To Heating and Cooking with a Wood Stove
Depending on your situation and location, cutting your own firewood could be difficult or impossible. Taking into consideration the time involved, this could be a con. We do like the physical work involved but it isn’t for everyone.
Firewood is also messy and you will be cleaning up more. Storing firewood in the house can also bring spiders and other insects that love to live in the wood. However, If you bring wood in on an “as needed” basis, this problem is minimized.
Even though our stove is exactly in the center of our small house, some of the rooms don’t get as warm as others. The only room that doesn’t get warm enough in our bedroom. This is ok since we are usually only in there to sleep, but on the coldest days, we do use a small electric heater. We usually prefer to sleep in a colder room anyway.
Most of the time, depending on the layout of the house, there will be a room or area of the house that doesn’t get as warm as others. Especially if the house isn’t open or has had additions. Consequently, a space heater might be needed in some rooms.
If you are gone to work during the day, the house will usually cool down by the time you get home. You can build a big fire before leaving to help with this, but having time to do it in the rush of the morning could be a hassle.
Humidity & Dust Issues
We live in a very dry climate, and a wood stove can dry the air out more. There are ways to increase the humidity when using a wood stove, though.
A cast-iron humidifier or a teapot on the stovetop is a simple way to increase the humidity. Of course, it costs nothing to use after the initial purchase of the humidifier or teapot. Check the thrift stores and antique shops for a good deal. Another option is to run an electric humidifier.
Expect to dust more frequently. Woodstoves generate dust. Especially if you fill the room with smoke when starting a fire. I am guilty of this.
The Wood Stove We Chose for Heating and Cooking
The Kitchen Queen 480 is the cookstove that we purchased for our home. The Kitchen Queen is a rather large workhorse of a stove. It features a large cooktop area, a full-size firebox, and a roomy oven.
The stove is high quality and serves our needs well. We opted to not have the shelf in the back, as we felt that we wouldn’t need or use it. We do regret not ordering the shelf for the side, however.
After researching and looking at a lot of different models of stoves, the large firebox on the Kitchen Queen won us over. There are so many great stoves out there to consider.
Antique cookstoves were also in the running, but all of the antique stoves we found had small fireboxes, which did not suit our heating needs. The stove also had to be within our budget. (under $3000.00)
Kitchen Queen also makes a smaller model, the Kitchen Queen 380. We decided to go with the larger model as our winter temperatures can go well below zero. Kitchen Queen has a new stove now, with a double reburn feature, as a result, it is super-efficient. It’s called the Grand Comfort 550.
Since we are using our wood stove for heat for more than half the year, it makes sense to cook while using it to heat. We are able to cook and bake anything with our stove because it also has a large oven.
Many wood stoves don’t have an oven but have a cooktop that can be used to warm up a pan of soup or boil a kettle of water. This is a bonus and saves more money on utilities.