The theme for the fall/winter of 2000 seems to be “high heating costs.” Consumers and retailers are being saturated with horror stories of 40% to 50% increases in their heating bills for the upcoming season.

Although panic has not set in, there are some ways to curtail the anxiety of consumers who are seeing a bite taken out of their monthly budgets.

If your customers are thinking about turning down the thermostat to save heating costs this year, it’s time to don the Superman cape and come up with a workable solution. Contractors can suggest a new stove, a direct-vent gas stove, to their customers; not the kind of stove for cooking — the kind for warming.

The nice part about gas stoves is that they are not one-dimensional. Besides adding functionality with money-saving supplemental heat, a gas stove can also add a decorative touch.

“The hvac industry has generally done a good job at promoting gas stove heat,” said Bill Mathewson of Heatech, Inc., White River Junction, VT.

Heatech is a product development and marketing company that designs and specifies stoves, fireplaces, and other home heating products.

“The popularity of gas stoves is increasing for several reasons,” Mathewson added. “They are easy to install, convenient, and full of technical improvements,” such as resembling a wood fire.

And despite the fact that gas stoves are used as a supplemental heat source, Mathewson said, “A small percentage are used for whole-house heating.”

Gas stoves are powered by natural gas, but they also are adaptable to other energy sources. “Sixty-five percent of stoves sold nationwide are natural gas,” Mathewson said. “But in some rural markets, propane gas is used more frequently. The stoves we sell are adaptable to propane.”

Tips On Installation

Mathewson said all it takes to install a stove is getting a gas line to it. Learning how to install a gas stove is almost as easy as locating a gas line, he said.

“It just takes some basic, direct-vent chimney knowledge. A direct-vent stove needs an exterior wall, 2 feet of vent on top of the stove, a 90-degree elbow, and a 12- to 18-inch pipe going through a wall with a terminator cap.”

Mathewson said these requirements reflect the installation of a top-exit direct-vent stove. “A rear-exit stove can be installed in front of a fireplace and vented up through an existing chimney.”

Direct-vent piping is basically a pipe inside of a pipe, according to Mathewson. “An inner pipe is the exhaust from the stove and the outer pipe brings in the outside air.”

Further tips on installation are available from manufacturers such as Simpson Duravent, a California chimney manufacturer. The company provides education on chimneys and the proper methods of venting — which is important to know, since there are standards to test gas stoves.

“There are two standards to test gas fireplaces and stoves: the decorative standard and the wall furnace standard,” said Mathewson.

“The wall furnace standard represents most of the sales, with the difference primarily being higher efficiency. Hence, with a gas stove rated to the wall furnace standard, a homeowner can not only get efficient heat, but also the pleasure of fire viewing.”

Mathewson served eight years on the Hearth Products Assoc-iation board of directors.

For more information on the company and tips on installation, contact Mathewson at (e-mail).

Publication date: 10/23/2000