Alternative Heating
A chilly winter forecast may prompt some families to seek cheaper, and potentially unsafe, alternative heating sources.

Shipments of wood burning stoves and inserts increased by more than 80% in 2008, while pellet stoves and pellet fireplace inserts rose more than 160% over the same time period according to the Hearth, Patio and Barbecue Association.  High demands are expected to continue throughout 2009 and 2010 thanks to many consumers looking to supplement their main home heating supply as a way to save money.  Additionally, an incentive from the federal government offering a 30% tax rebate, up to $ 1,500 on the purchase of wood and pellet stoves meeting certain efficiency requirements, makes purchasing these items more appealing.

Using supplemental heating devices can help keep costs down, but they can pose specific hazards if they’re installed incorrectly or used improperly.

Among the problems, are chimneys filled with dangerous levels of creosote, space heaters used with extension cords that overheat, improperly installed wood stoves and fireplace inserts and kitchen ovens used as an extra heating source.

Homeowners should take the following precautions when using specific heating devices: