Heating With Wood


Living off the grid left use with just a few options for heat, LP, kerosene, or wood.  

With the number of vent free LP heaters on the market this was a good option.  The heater we were looking at used a 20 pound tank every 100 hours on the medium setting, 8000 btu.  That would mean that we would be going through a tank and a half of propane every week.  The cost to refill a tank is around $12.00 here, and you have to include the 40 mile round trip to refill the tanks.  Living in the North Country this would have been an expensive proposition   We could cut the gas cost down my buying a 100 pound tank and having it delivered, but not by much.

Kerosene really was not an option for us.  It works great in the greenhouse, but personally I do not care for the smell.

This left heating with wood.  This was the best option for us.  The first year here we had to clear many trees.  They needed to be removed either for building or to release trees.  We had many sugar maples, about five inches in diameter, clumped together.  Our land had never been worked prior to us arriving.  We also had a bit of dead fall to take care of.  The first winter was very mild and we did not need much wood.  We actually had several cord left over.  The cost of heating the first year was about $50.00 for gas, mix, and bar and chain oil.  Now this winter has been a different story.  Writing this post today April 11th, we are under a winter weather advisory.  So our cost was about $400.00 this year.  We still have about twelve cord of wood left and I do not see using all of it.

Why the increase of cost?  It wasn't the weather, but the fact that we had to buy firewood.  There are many choices in buying firewood.  

  • Log.  This is the option we chose.  A load of green log length hardwood is delivered and it is up to you to cut, split, and stack.  We were able to purchase a fifteen plus cord load for $350.00 and it was delivered to our driveway.  Literally in our driveway.  With the help of a couple of friends we were able to put the wood up in a day.  I have been on some wood cutting parties (yes, they are fun) and a group of us cut, split, and put up thirty cord of wood in a afternoon.  If you have the time, motivation, and equipment this can be the least expensive route.
  • Cut.  This is when a load of wood that is already cut to length, usually around sixteen inches, is delivered to you.  Then it is up to you to split and stack.
  • Cut and Split.  You can probably figure this one out.  The firewood is cut to length and split prior to delivery.  Sometimes they will even stack it for you.  The cost is our area is about $50.00 a cord for green firewood.  If we had taken this route our log load would have been around $900.00.
One thing to take note of when purchasing firewood, if it is green or seasoned.  Green firewood is wood that has not been cut for long.  It still has a high moisture count and will be difficult to burn.  Seasoned wood is wood that has been cut, split and aged under cover for about six months. This is the wood that you want to have on hand when you fire up your wood stove.   We cut, split, and stack our wood in the spring/early summer.  This way it has time to season before winter sets in.  

The basic tools you want to have on hand for running a wood stove.
  • Chainsaw to block up the wood.
  • Maul to split the wood.
  • Felling lever for rolling logs.
  • Chimney brush for keeping the soot build up down.
When choosing your wood stove, go to a reputable dealer.  The many different styles are a personal choice.  Be sure to purchase a wood stove that will heat the square footage of your house plus twenty five percent.  (i.e. If your home is 800 square feet purchase a wood stove that will heat a minimum of 1000 square foot.)  This way you will not be pushing your stove to its limits on those cold nights.

Your chimney options are through the wall, or through the roof.  This is a decision you will need to make based upon local building codes (yes, in most areas you will need a permit) and your installer.

If you have any doubts in your ability to install the chimney and stove, please have a professional install  your stove.  

One last thought, check with your homeowner's insurance.  Some may not allow a wood stove.   

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