How do you keep your house warm during winter? If you are like me and millions of other Americans, you use wood. Figures in a recent Census showed that the number of homes heating with wood grew 34 percent between 2000 and 2010 – a faster pace than any other heating fuel.
Heating with wood is certainly not a novel idea, as we have been using it for the majority of human history. But we always can improve how we do it.
If you are considering wood heat or would like to know how you can make your wood heat longer and as efficient as possible, here are a few tips.
Tip One: Know How to Really Build a Fire: While it may seem elementary — toss in some logs, some paper and a match – burning an efficient fire isn’t so simple. The key to a successful fire is to start small and add on. Don’t be in a rush to put too many logs on the fire at one time. Gradually adding logs will help build up a strong and steady heat. Don’t go overboard and build a huge fire at the beginning; it is actually much less efficient, contrary to how it may seem. Always use softwood kindling to start a fire; it makes for easy starting.
Of course, there are some things that should never be burned, including:
- Colored magazines
- Painted wood
- Household garbage
- Fabric made out of synthetic materials
Tip Two: Know Your Wood: You have probably wondered which type of wood provides the most heat. Oak is one of the best woods with which to heat. One cord of oak will burn about 29 million BTUs. Oak is hard and very dense and will burn for a long time compared to other types of wood. A cord of pine will provide about 60 percent of the heat as oak; white cedar will provide 50 percent the amount of heat as oak. But what if you can’t get oak? The top five head-producing woods are:
Tip Three: Use Well-Seasoned Wood: When wood is seasoned well, it offers a great deal more heat than that which is green. In fact, seasoned wood offers four times as much heat value as uncured wood. Cut, split and stack wood in early spring and let it sit out in the sun and wind until it is seasoned. It generally takes six months to a year to season wood, depending on the climate and the type of wood you are cutting.
Tip Four: Keep Everything Clean: If you heat with a wood fireplace insert, be sure that your chimney is inspected and cleaned yearly. Don’t let ash pile up in your stove or fireplace; this gets in the way of its effectiveness. Keep in mind that just one-tenth of an inch of soot inside the fireplace can hamper the heat-transfer efficiency by about 50 percent. The best is to clean it after each use.
Tip Five: Make Sure Your Fire Has Enough Air: Make sure that your fire is always getting enough air. This will ensure that it burns hot and clean. Check the air intake on your heater to be sure that there are no blockages, such as dust or spider webs. If you have a through-floor intake, make sure that the screen is clean and not obstructed. Keeping your air intake open will ensure that your fire burns as efficiently as possible.
Finally, keep your wood cut, split and stacked in a place that is sheltered from the weather. But don’t cover the sides, as this helps to keep air circulating. Be sure to cover your wood with a tarp during a snowstorm. Stack your wood on pallets to keep it off of the ground. Finally, always keep a small supply of wood indoors; this will ensure that you have what you need to get your fire started.
Follow these simple five steps to burning wood efficiently and you will be warm and cozy all winter long!
What advice would you add on keeping wood burning efficiently? Share your tips in the section below: