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Jan 042008
 

But they haven’t had to use the back-up for heat production, despite some icy evenings in the 20s and 30s. In addition to handling the heating, the masonry structure also provides a cuddling spot, the built-in bench, that remains warm throughout the day.

“It’s performing to my expectations,” Richardson said. “In fact, it’s better, I didn’t realize the core of it would stay so warm.”

The warming bench is just “awesome,” says John Richardson (no relation to Paul), another of Frisch’s customers, who recently installed a white tiled masonry heater that heats 1,600 square feet of his house near Twisp, Wash.

“Anyone who puts one of these in should put in a heated bench. It’s the first place people sit down, winter or summer, they sit on the stove….that bench is warm. My wife takes naps on it.”

The Richardsons identify only one downside to a masonry heater, it doesn’t heat up quickly, so it’s best kept on a regular schedule of burning to maintain its warmth.
They fuel their heater with prunings from their apple and pear orchards and also from cedar scraps unsuitable for regular fireplaces. They build two fires a day in winter and each produces only about 15 minutes of smoke, which makes their household heating about as green as it gets.

“It’s (the wood) a renewable resource,” said Richardson, a CPA. “And this carbon (from felled trees), eventually it’s going to go out there, so you might as well get some heat out of it.”

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