Pellet Stoves–A Cleaner, Greener Alternative to Wood Fires?

For those of you on the edges of your seats waiting to find out if we chose a gas stove, wood stove, or pellet stove insert for our wood burning fireplace, I’ll end the suspense: we went with the pellet stove. (Read my  wood fire post here and my fireplace insert post here.)  At first I was worried that a pellet stove insert would look strange in our 1924 house, but we found a model with a vintage feel to it.  Here’s what the fireplace looked like before:

fireplace before inserting the pellet stove in a 1924 house

(This photo is from last winter. Don’t worry; I haven’t hung up the Christmas decorations already!)

And now with the insert:

 empress pellet stove insert in old-fashioned fireplace

When I researched my options, it seemed like many people wanted a pellet stove as their primary heat source.  We already have a very efficient (95%) gas furnace, so that wasn’t our goal–we just wanted to be able to use our fireplace as another heat source and enjoy the cozy feeling of a fire during the winter.

Was this a frugal and green decision?  Not really.  With such an efficient furnace that burns natural gas–the cleanest-burning fuel around–there was no practical reason for us to get a pellet stove.  The greenest thing we could do would be to rely on our furnace for heat and never light a fire in the fireplace.   The pellet stove cost thousands of dollars, so it probably won’t ever pay for itself.

But, if we actually want to enjoy our fireplace in the winter months, we feel much better about burning pellets in an efficient stove than we do about burning wood in an open fire place.  Our pellet stove stays cool to the touch, so it’s safe to run even with young children underfoot. And while pellets don’t burn as cleanly as gas, they are actually a carbon-neutral fuel because they’re made from castoff materials.  Natural gas, on the other hand, is a petroleum product.

Does anyone else have a pellet stove?  How do you like it?


  1. I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I don’t know what to say except that I have enjoyed. Really a nice post here!

  2. denise@victory rd. says

    who was the manufacturer of your pellet stove and surround? this is what i am looking for.

    thank you.

  3. It’s an Enviro pellet stove. I believe it’s called the “Empress.”

  4. Thanks for writing about this — very interesting! I know you wrote this a while back but I just came across it. This is one of the first pellet stove inserts that I have found attractive for an older home. We’re thinking of installing one in a house from 1905. Would you still recommend the Enviro Empress pellet stove insert? Can you tell me which finish you got? Many thanks!!!

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