Yes, we are here!

At MOTHER EARTH NEWS, we have been educating folks about the benefits of self-reliance for 50 years. That includes researching and sourcing the best books and products to help individuals master the skills they need in times like these and beyond. Our online store is open and we are here to answer any questions you might have. Our customer service staff is available Monday through Friday from 8a.m.-5p.m. CDT. We can be reached at 1-800-234-3368 or by email. Stay safe!

Heating Your Home with a Wood Stove

A family in main planned their home so efficiently, it takes only one wood-burning stove to warm the entire house.

| November/December 1976

  • wood burning stove
    An efficient wood-burning stove provides plenty of heat to your home.
  • 042-028-011-01
    Diagram and explanations of the set-up used to warm the house.

  • wood burning stove
  • 042-028-011-01

His neighbors told him it couldn't be done when Stefan Nadzo of Franklin, Maine decided to heat his family's 1,360-squarefoot home with just one wood-burning stove. He did it anyway,though,and did it with style. And his system works! Here, Stefan shares some of his secrets for getting the most out of wood heat. 

When my wife and I recently settled in southeastern Maine, we were determined to do two things: [1] build and live in a large, comfortable house and [2] heat it with just a single wood-burning stove.

Our new neighbors—hardened Mainers from way back, all of whom had made it through many a difficult down—East winter—admired our idealism . . . but they minced no words when it came to telling us that our two objectives were mutually exclusive.

"You can't survive in a large house with only a wood-burning stove for heat," they insisted. "Not through the kind of winters we have here, where temperatures sink to twenty below zero and the heavy winds rack up chill factors of minus seventy!" We might be able to do it with a one- or two-room cabin, we were told, but not with a 40' X 34' house.

Well, we went ahead and built our 1,360-square-foot home—complete with solitary wood-burner—just as we'd planned. And along about the middle of January, we invited some of our once-skeptical neighbors over to dinner. Toward the end of the evening (when the temperature inside the house had stayed a cozy 68° F, even though the mercury had fallen to a marrow-chilling -15° outside), everyone admitted—with due amazement—that, yes, we'd done what we'd set out to do: namely, marry the utility and convenience of a large house with the simplicity and economy of wood stove heating!

Here's How We Did It

We attacked the problem of designing and building an energy-efficient (yet spacious) domicile from many different angles. Among the factors that we considered most carefully were: [1] How to shelter our structure from the wind.
[2] What building materials to use.
[3] The number of windows the house should have.
[4] How to achieve adequate air circulation inside the dwelling.
[5] What kind of stove to buy, and where to install it. I'll discuss each of these considerations—and their effect upon our home's cold-weather livability—one by one.

11/5/2019 8:34:41 AM

I'm a wood fan for sure (it's kept us from freezing to death twice now.) However, I do want to note that salvaging wood and splitting it yourself isn't "free." Your time is worth something, so the time required to split, haul, and stack wood should be considered against the cost of just buying it. It's also a pretty unpleasant and repetitive workout; you're more likely to throw out your back or rotator cuff than lose weight doing this. Personally, I decided that it was worth it to buy wood.

11/15/2014 4:16:51 PM

I've heard the theory of humid air feeling warmer, but our experience has been the opposite. Like the author, our large wood stove has been the primary heat source for our 2700 sq. ft. house for the 10 years we've been here. Until 2 years ago I always kept a large pan of water on the stove. At times it would boil slightly so it was always hot enough to put plenty of moisture in the air (it sat right above the catalytic converter, very hot). We always felt cold until the temperature in our family room got above 70. Two years ago I was lazy and didn't mess with the pan, and we were surprised that we felt comfortable at much cooler temps. Haven't had the pan on since.

10/1/2014 10:21:48 AM

There is something about wood heat that is just so much better than gas or propane. I grew up in wood heated homes and living in a house with propane heat just wasn't cutting it for me. I decided to do some research and ended up purchasing a Kitchen Queen Wood Cook Stove. This particular stove can heat your home, your water, and you can use it to cook. With all of it's features it was just what I needed. I recommend anyone looking into wood stoves to take a look at this link:

Subscribe Today - Pay Now & Save 64% Off the Cover Price

50 Years of Money-Saving Tips!

Mother Earth NewsAt MOTHER EARTH NEWS for 50 years and counting, we are dedicated to conserving our planet's natural resources while helping you conserve your financial resources. You'll find tips for slashing heating bills, growing fresh, natural produce at home, and more. That's why we want you to save money and trees by subscribing through our earth-friendly automatic renewal savings plan. By paying with a credit card, you save an additional $5 and get 6 issues of MOTHER EARTH NEWS for only $12.95 (USA only).

You may also use the Bill Me option and pay $17.95 for 6 issues.

Canadian Subscribers - Click Here
International Subscribers - Click Here
Canadian subscriptions: 1 year (includes postage & GST).

Facebook Pinterest Instagram YouTube Twitter flipboard

Free Product Information Classifieds Newsletters

click me