One of the great things about our home is that we have a concrete slab foundation throughout most of the house. As we continue to discuss what direction we’re going in terms of heating the house in winter, we’ve definitely decided we want a fireplace or wood burning stove in the living room and our bedroom.
We currently have two fireplaces which LOOK like adobe fireplaces, but aren’t. The one in the dining room retains absolutely no heat whatsoever, and is good for warming up a room, but once the fire goes out, so does the heat.

The nice thing about a cast iron wood burning stove is that it’s already built, and all we need to do is install a stove pipe through the roof, tile and/or brick on the foundation and part of the walls.

The downside of having a wood burning stove is that it doesn’t retain heat the way that a masonry, cob, or adobe fireplace can.

We’re not looking to heat the whole house with it, but just to add a little extended warmth to each room, as well as to make each room more inviting and cozy.

In our kid’s rooms, obviously there wouldn’t be fireplaces, but since their rooms are located on the south side of the house, they will benefit from the solar heating we’ll be installing.

I guess it comes down to money more than anything else. We can purchase fire bricks over a short period of time, or get them for free if anyone is giving them away. We already have plenty of dirt and clay from down by the arroyos, and we have experience working with cob and natural plasters.

We have a second large fireplace down in the basement which also doesn’t retain heat, but since it’s in the basement, if we were to close the door, the heat would stay put for a good long while.

I think on an emotional feel good level, a fireplace and/or wood burning stove bring an earthy, homey style that just begs you to put on your fuzzy socks and big old raggedy sweater, come up close with some hot chocolate and enjoy the company and conversation of family.

Which do you prefer, a fireplace with thermal mass or a wood burning stove?

At this time last year:

Dom started making compost piles that would crank up the heat to 140 degrees.