When frost starts to collect on your windowpanes, your first instinct may be to crank up the thermostat. Unfortunately, higher gas bills — and higher fossil-fuel usage — tend to accompany that uptick of the dial. An alternative would be to heat your home with wood, and thanks to modern woodstove designs, you won’t have to sacrifice efficiency for self-sufficiency. The Wood Stove Decathlon, held in November 2013 in Washington, D.C., challenged those modern-day woodstoves to bring the heat by competing in a handful of categories: low emissions, high efficiency, innovation, affordability and more. The first-prize winner was the Ideal Steel Hybrid stove produced by Woodstock Soapstone. This hybrid stove has a catalytic combustor and a secondary combustion system. A durable body of steel, cast iron and soapstone gives it a sleek look while also allowing it to retain its thermal mass — and the steel helps keep the cost down, with the base model starting at $1,795.
A wide range of woodstove technologies flaunted their flues at the event, from catalytic hybrids to masonry stoves (which had some of the highest scores for efficiency and cleanliness). Stoves from Travis, Wittus, and New England Hearth & Soapstone took the runner-up spots in the decathlon. To learn more about the leading woodstoves and the other models that competed, go to the Alliance for Green Heat’s website.