Five Lessons for Heating Your Home with Wood
Burning firewood to heat your home is very different from using a thermostat-controlled central heating system. Many in this high-tech age struggle with the primitive task of building, lighting, and maintaining a fire that provides the desired amount of heat without smoldering and creating excess smoke.
There are the questions of how much wood is needed for one winter, what type of wood is best, and more. The following are five lessons about wood-burning that could take some of the uncertainty out of heating your home with a fireplace insert or wood stove.
Please note that a basic masonry fireplace is too inefficient to be relied on as a true heat source for your home. Have a fireplace insert installed, and you will transform your fireplace into a reliable supplemental heat source.
1 – The Right Wood is Essential
A few simple tips related to what type of wood to burn is all you need. First, always burn wood that has been seasoned. When wood is seasoned, the moisture content is very low. Trees that are fresh-cut are bursting with moisture. It can take six months to a year or more for the logs to dry out. Even then, the time frame depends on whether or not there was a proper environment to allow a drying out process. Logs should be stacked in such a way that air can get between the logs and sun can also shine on them. You can use a tarp cover that provides protection from the rain, but a shed is usually the best for stacking and drying logs and sheltering them from added moisture.
For long-burning, hot fires, hardwoods are best for your firewood. For hot fires that are easy to light and burn out quickly, with no lingering embers left behind, choose softwoods. Never use pieces of treated wood because they contain dangerous toxins.
2 – Tips for Building a Fire
Building a fire isn’t as complicated as it can seem. Fuel, heat, and oxygen are the only three components required to get a fire started. You can use small bits of tinder and a match to get the flames going. Examples of tinder include small twigs, bits of dryer lint, pencil shavings, and newspaper. Then add kindling such as small branches, sticks, and small split logs. Gradually add more wood without snuffing out the flames, which is what happens if the air is choked out of the fire. Never use lighter fluid, kerosene, or other flammable liquids in your fireplace or wood stove.
For a long-burning fire, pack the logs in tightly. Leave space between the logs for a quicker burn.
3 – Tips on Calculating the Amount of Firewood Needed for Winter
There are many different factors that determine the amount of firewood you’re going to need to keep your home warm in winter. The following are a few things that should be considered when making a calculation on the amount of firewood needed:
- The efficiency of your fireplace or wood stove. With highly efficient appliances, you get more heat yet use less firewood.
- The type of wood you use. Keep in mind that hardwoods produce more lingering heat, since they create beds of hot embers. A cord of hardwoods lasts significantly longer than a cord of softwoods, while creating more heat.
- The size of the wood stove or fireplace. It requires more firewood to produce more heat for a larger appliance and home.
- The frequency of use. If wood is your primary fuel for winter, you will want to make sure you have significantly more wood than your highest estimate, to be sure you’re covered.
- How well your home is insulated.
- How cold the winter is.
Here’s a sample calculation, keeping in mind that a cord of wood is a 4’ by 4’ by 8’ densely-packed pile: If home all day in a 1000-square-foot heating area in a cold climate that lasts from mid-October, to April, about three cords of wood are needed.
4 – Insulation is Important
To successfully heat with a wood fire, it helps tremendously if you have good insulation in your home. Fill all cracks and crevices with insulation. If you have single-paned windows, replace them with storm windows or triple-glazed wood windows.
5 – Fans May be Needed
If your fireplace insert or wood stove is providing heat for more than one room, use fans to push the warm air around your home. A ceiling fan set to spin in reverse helps, and you can also install fans in the top corners of doorways, to help circulate the warm air.
No need to be intimidated by fires, even if they are a primitive way to find warmth. Contact any of our member stores to find out about the many beautiful, efficient wood-burning appliances you can choose from.