Is Wood Heating Right for You?

Now is the perfect time to explore the options and decide if a woodstove or other wood heating system is the right choice for your home.


| March 31, 2008


Wood heating has many advantages. Wood is a renewable fuel, it’s widely available in many parts of North America, and in some situations, heating with wood can save you money.

If you’re interested in wood heat, right now is the best time to explore your options for a woodstove or other wood heating system. Because spring is the slow season, wood heat retailers may sweeten the deal to get your business this time of year.

But before making a purchase, be sure to research your options and seek out good advice. This will be time well spent, because it can help you avoid costly mistakes. Wood heating isn’t for everyone, but with a little research and planning, you may discover that it’s a great option for you. Here are a few things to consider when evaluating your options.

Calculating the Costs and Benefits
In many cases, heating with wood will save you money, but this is not true for everyone. If you live in a forested rural area and can do some of the processing of the wood yourself, you can save some money — especially if you already have a truck or trailer and are handy with a chain saw and splitting maul. But if you have to buy split firewood and have it delivered to your suburban home, you probably won’t save much.

To get a rough idea of the cost savings, you can try various online tools, such as this fuel cost calculator. However, no calculator can give you a completely accurate figure for how much you will save. Most can’t figure in supplementary heating, in which only a portion of the conventional fuel cost is displaced. Nor can they take account of the time you would devote to all the tasks involved in wood heating.

After all, if you paid yourself minimum wage for all the cutting, splitting, stacking, fire stoking, ash removal and so on, the savings would quickly evaporate. So even if your main motivation is to save money, also consider if the other benefits appeal to you—the ones that seem to sustain the most successful users of wood energy. If you enjoy physical work and a regular routine, and if you would like to be more self-reliant and less dependent on fossil fuels, than wood heating might be for you.

JAMESH
12/7/2013 8:46:10 PM

I really think any "dangers" from wood smoke are over-blown. If it really does kill 30,000 people annually in this nation of 330 million people, that's a small number, and much less than are killed in auto accidents. Cost vs. benefit. While I get most of my wood from my own property, I did discover a great source to supplement it. There is a pallet factory in my community that will sell the scraps for $45/pickup truck load. These scraps are blocks that are either 4"x4"x6", or 6x6x6. The majority of these are Oak, but since you load them yourself you can pick all the Oak as you load. By stacking them tightly I get 1/3 cord in my truck and I feel it's the equal energy wise of what is sold as a half cord in split wood.


JAMESH
12/7/2013 8:33:06 PM

I really think any "dangers" from wood smoke are over-blown. If it really does kill 30,000 people annually in this nation of 330 million people, that's a small number, and much less than are killed in auto accidents. Cost vs. benefit. While I get most of my wood from my own property, I did discover a great source to supplement it. There is a pallet factory in my community that will sell the scraps for $45/pickup truck load. These scraps are blocks that are either 4"x4"x6", or 6x6x6. The majority of these are Oak, but since you load them yourself you can pick all the Oak as you load. By stacking them tightly I get 1/3 cord in my truck and I feel it's the equal energy wise of what is sold as a half cord in split wood.


CathyBaiton
11/2/2013 5:02:13 PM

Please consider the negative impacts of wood burning on air quality and health, especially in populated areas. Wood heating is the largest single source of particulate matter in Canada, according to Environment Canada. It's also the largest residential source, according to the American Lung Association. Here is an excerpt from the article, "Wood burning: The air pollution elephant in the room" from the website of Utah Physicians for Healthy Environment, a group of medical professionals who have called for a year-round ban on burning wood, both indoors and outside: "Many years ago we adopted a societal norm that no one should be involuntarily subjected to second hand cigarette smoke because of the inherent public health consequences and the infringement on the rights of nonsmokers to avoid exposure. . . . The smoke from wood stoves, boilers and fireplaces creeps onto adjacent property and into nearby homes affecting the quality of life and health of neighbours. 'Cheap heat' or pleasant ambiance for a resident burning wood is accomplished at the expense of nearby neighbors and the community at large, just like second hand cigarette smoke." http://www.uphe.org/wood-burning-the-air-pollution-elephant-in-the-room






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