Outside Air Intake for Heating Home

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It's very difficult to estimate how much wood you would save by using outside air, but it's usually not much.

I burn three to four cords of red oak and black locust in my Ashley stove each winter as the only heat for my 60-year-old, wood frame home. Up until this year, all the firewood has come from my property, but I’m going to have to cut at least a cord elsewhere to get by this winter. The expense and nuisance of finding firewood has me wondering how I might cut down on the amount I burn.

Right now my heater uses the air inside my house for burning, and I’m wondering how much wood I could save by hooking the Ashley’s air intake to the outside — so that combustion air wouldn’t have to come from the warm air in my house.

Outside Air Intake for Heating Home

My suggestion is to try outside air for a season (if it’s not too much trouble to install) and then decide. For some houses and some people, it helps; for others, it doesn’t.

It’s very difficult to estimate how much wood you would save by using an outside air intake for your wood stove, but it’s usually not much. The primary benefit typically is increased comfort due to fewer floor-level drafts. Since comfort is the primary objective of using a wood heater, it may be worth using an outside air intake. However, I wouldn’t count on significant fuel savings. A switch to a catalytic stove would probably have much more impact on your fuel consumption, although catalytic stoves aren’t inexpensive.

Jay Shelton, director of Shelton Energy Research