There are several considerations that will determine the amount of firewood needed for a heating season. Let’s discuss those factors and try to help you plan for the next couple of heating seasons.
THE IMPORTANT QUESTIONS TO ASK
- How much space are you trying to heat?
- Are you a serious wood burner or more of a recreational user?
- What type of fireplace or stove do you have?
- How large is your fireplace or stove?
- Where is your home located?
- How is it insulated and orientated?
- What type of wood are you going to use?
Let’s discuss each of these in detail and you’ll get a better understanding of how much wood you might use.
Is your objective to heat your entire home, or just a portion of it? Consider a centrally located wood burning fireplace, stove or forced air furnace if your intentions are to heat the entire house. Moving the air within your home is important. Whether it’s with ceiling fans, an oscillating floor fan or maybe turning your conventional furnace fan to the “on” position, your objective is to get the air circulating to eliminate cold and hot spots within the house.
Fireplaces, stoves and furnaces come in lots of different sizes. Take note of the size of the firebox. The larger the firebox (in cubic feet), the more wood it will hold, the longer the wood will last and the more heat it will produce. [SEE LINKS: WOOD BURNING STOVE or WOOD BURNING FIREPLACES] Remember, this is not an exact science. There are lots of variables. But generally speaking, fireboxes of 1.6 cubic feet and smaller will heat up to 1000 square feet of space. Fireboxes up to 2.8 cubic feet will heat up to 2000 square feet and the largest fireboxes, over 2.9 cubic feet will heat up to 3000 square feet of well insulated space. Your WE LOVE FIRE expert can assist you with this.
If you’re planning to heat the entire house, you will need to size the equipment for the worst-case weather scenario in the winter. Are you in northern Minnesota or southern Missouri? The northeast or the Pacific northwest? Obviously, your address will make a huge difference in product selection. Use our BTU CALCULATOR to help with this process.
Maybe you’re more of a “recreational” wood burner? That is, one who wants to enjoy an occasional fire on weekends or while entertaining. It’s likely that a smaller appliance will nicely suit your needs.
OTHER POINTS TO PONDER:
The age of the house and type of construction will make a huge difference in the amount of wood you’ll use during a heating season. For example, is yours a 100-year-old brick or stone two story farmhouse? Maybe a 1970’s or 80’s ranch style home? These heating needs will be significantly greater than a similar style house built within the past few years. Yes, windows can be replaced in an older home and cracks sealed up, but sidewall and foundation insulation are difficult and expensive to retrofit to an older home.
Orientation of the house can be important, too. A southern exposure with lots of solar gain in the wintertime can provide wonderful daytime heating. Conversely, if you have a spectacular view to the north, plan accordingly and invest in good windows!
EFFICIENCIES vs AETHETICS?
The efficiency of today’s EPA certified wood burning equipment is extremely solid. There’s lots of great equipment on the market. The manufacturers that your nearby WE LOVE FIRE dealer represent are the best in the industry.
Decide how you want to heat . . . . with a fireplace, stove or furnace. If it’s a fireplace or stove, we can help with the sizing issues described above. Our advice: buy something you like the looks of. Keep in mind this will be in your living or family room without a fire going for many more hours over the course of a year, than with a fire burning in it. So, purchase equipment and accessories that fit your décor and lifestyle. And if it’s a wood burning furnace, who cares what it looks like! It’s going to be out of site in the basement! Just buy a reliable, dependable, proven brand.
Difference types and species of wood will produce similar amounts of heat, pound for pound. Hardwoods are considerably denser than softwoods so they will burn for a much longer period of time. [SEE LINK: WHAT WOOD TO BURN IN MY FIREPLACE?]
HOW MUCH TO CUT OR BUY?
A cord of wood is a pile that is cut and stacked and measures 4” wide x 4” high x 8’ long. If you are a serious wood-burner and plan to heat a 20-year-old, 2000 square foot house in a cold climate, plan for 4 or 5 cords of dry, seasoned hardwood. A recreational burner should plan two cords. If you’re in a mild climate, cut this amount in half. When trying to figure out how much wood you’ll need, estimate on the heavy side. Just keep it covered and whatever isn’t used this year, can be first in the firebox next year!