10 May 2015

18/52 - Official End of Winter

Now that we've had two straight weeks without lighting the wood stove, we can declare officially that we have survived our Winter Without A Furnace!

It was a very mild winter in Trout Lake, both in snowfall and temperature. In fact, we didn't have to clear snow from the driveway even once this year, a first in the ten winters we've lived here. While we missed the snow, we did appreciate the moderate temperatures.

The wood stove held its own keeping the house warm on most days, with only occasional electric heater use. The default house temperature with the wood stove seemed to be 2-4 degrees cooler than our furnace setpoint (68°F), but we decided that it was easier and more economical to wear our down vests in the house than to fight the natural order. In total, we burned about 2.5 cords of maple, doug fir and oak.

We fell into a pretty regular routine. Starting the fire each morning was job #1. The indoor wood storage area near the stove holds about 3 wheelbarrows full, which will last about 6 days (give or take). Having to haul wood in only about once a week definitely made me happy. Occasionally we would have to read an old (but previously unread) issue of the White Salmon Enterprise so that we could use it as a firestarter. Once the fire was going, it was a relatively simple matter to check the fire hourly and adjust as needed. Having a fan next to the stove also made a huge difference in how well we were able to distribute the heat throughout the house. We woke up through the night to feed the fire exactly ZERO times this winter; we just like our sleep too much, and it was easy enough to start a new one in the morning. I think the coldest morning we had was around 54°F, but that was a bit of an anomaly. The average morning temperature was in the upper 50s.

The weeks we spent away from home this winter were the most trying. We used our "smart" thermostat as a remotely-monitored thermometer, while two electric space heaters successfully kept the indoor temperature out of the freezing zone until we returned.

We did wear out one of the metal grates on the bottom of wood stove, and I'm sure our chimney will need a good cleaning before next year. But overall, it wasn't as difficult or as tiring as we feared. So while we don't plan to repeat this winter anytime soon, it's good to know that it's possible.

- Mike, Corinne, and Anders