Having an alternative way to heat your home in the winter months is crucial, especially in cold, rural parts of the country.
Wood stoves can not only warm your house but could save you up to $260 in annual heating costs. You might even get a few hundred dollars in federal tax credits.
The U.S. Forest Service has partnered with the Alliance for Green Heat, an independent non-profit organization, to sponsor the first-ever international Wood Stove Design Challenge. The challenge asks participants to build an affordable, cleaner-burning wood stove for residential heating. The judges are looking for designs that can produce ultra-low emissions, are high efficiency, but still affordable and marketable to the general public.
The Forest Service, along with states, counties, and private landowners, has been removing trees and brush to reduce wildfire potential for years. Disposing of dead or decaying trees in a clean and efficient manner is important not only because it helps prevent the spread of wildfires, but also because decaying trees left in the woods release methane—a gas much worse than carbon dioxide.
“Some people are led to believe that burning wood is bad and others who get inexpensive warmth from burning wood may not care or can’t afford to burn wood properly,” said Mark Knaebe, one of the judges and a natural resource specialist at the Forest Service. “This competition is both a way to educate as well as encourage the brightest and best to develop pollution-free burning devices”
Popular Mechanics magazine launched an online ballot that allows people to vote until November for one of the 14 remaining finalists’ Wood Stove Designs. The finalist who receives the most votes will be named the People's Choice winner during the Wood Stove Decathlon on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., in November.
“Maybe the public will value user-friendliness most or perhaps functionality, practicality, cost, automation or connectivity. Here's a chance for the public to help shape the next generation wood stove," said Jim Meigs, judge and editor-in-chief of Popular Mechanics.
After a series of extensive tests, the grand prize winner, which includes a $25,000 cash prize, second place and third place winners will be announced at the decathlon.