With prices of oil and gas skyrocketing every week it seems, heating bills are expected to increase by twenty-seven percent this winter and those who use natural gas can expect a forty-one percent increase. This has a lot of homeowners looking for ways to decrease their dependency on oil and gas.

If you're looking for the heat and nice look that a wood stove can provide, then you're going to find the pellet stove to be a very sophisticated heating appliance. These stoves look very similar to your traditional wood stove or fireplace insert and they work in a similar manner as well. Plus you get a similar flame burning effect as well.

Freestanding and fireplace insert pellet stoves produce a small fire, although you can get some with different flame patterns so that it looks more like a real fire. You can also get ceramic logs, similar to those used in gas fireplaces, to help to disperse the flames as well.

The main disadvantage to the free standing and fireplace insert pellet stoves is that they have moving parts and motors that may require some maintenance. It is a good idea to select a model that allows you to easily access these parts should they need repair. It is also a good idea to regularly maintain these parts.

You have two options when it comes to free standing and fireplace insert pellet stoves. You may select either bottom fed or top fed pellet stoves. A top fed stove has a hopper that delivers the pellets to the fire. The manufacturers of top fed pellet stoves suggest that you use low-ash, high grade pellets so as not to impede the moving parts with ash or "clinkers." The bottom fed models don't require high-grade pellets because the ash is pushed to an ash pan. Of course, the ash pan has to be cleaned weekly if you're using the stove regularly. It is also a good idea to look for a stove that has a large ash pan that is easy to remove and replace.

The motors on both of these units require electricity. This means that you will need to have the stove plug into a 110-volt outlet. You may also opt for a gas-power generator should your electricity goes out. This will keep you from losing your heat as well.

Both types of pellet stoves are measured in terms of heat output range. Most will range from 8,000 BTUs to 90,000 BTUs. You will want to work with a dealer who is knowledgeable about the heat distribution of these stoves in order to choose the one that is right for your home or the room you are heating.

There are a variety of different pellet stove options for you to choose from and they range in price from $1,700 to $3,000 plus the cost of installation. You will also have to have a chimney installed in your home if you do not have one already. The fireplace insert pellet stoves are convenient as they can be slipped into your existing fireplace. Additionally, both are convenient because the pellets are simply poured into the hopper and you don't have to worry about stacking and carrying around messy firewood.