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Wood Heat for the Home

Wood Heat for the Home

Our family has used wood heat my entire life, and at 46, I still use this form of heat in the winter months, so I feel I am somewhat of a self-proclaimed expert on the subject. Safety is a very strong factor when deciding which heating system you will choose, but you also want your

Our family has used wood heat my entire life, and at 46, I still use this form of heat in the winter months, so I feel I am somewhat of a self-proclaimed expert on the subject. Safety is a very strong factor when deciding which heating system you will choose, but you also want your heat source to be sufficient for the area you are trying to heat, and a single fireplace may not always be the best decision. Although a fireplace is very romantic and pretty to look at, the amount of heat produced by this system is very inefficient and practically obsolete. Also, when left unattended, there is always the risk of the fire popping and spreading sparks into the room which could cause a house fire.

Wood heaters are the best solution for any heating requirements you may have. You would be surprised at the wide range of sizes and models available on the market today. Many allow you to view the flames through protective glass doors creating a fireplace atmosphere while maximizing your heat production, and minimizing fire danger from open sparks. Other models are as plain as it gets. Simple cast iron models are the least expensive, but either model you choose is very proficient in heat production. Modern wood heaters are far more efficient than the earlier models I grew up with, creating more heat with less wood than ever before ! Technology it seems has no bounds when it comes to making everything in our lives safer and more efficient, even the wood heaters we once thought were obsolete.

Having a wood heater or fireplace for your total heat source may not be practical if you live in areas where firewood is difficult to obtain such as a city where the only wood available will have to be purchased and delivered to your home. Even in the rural area where I live, a cord of firewood (4ft. x 4ft. x 8ft.) costs around $150.00 delivered. In a larger city, its easy to see those prices increase to $250.00 or even $350.00 for the same amount of wood. I can personally cut and split a cord of firewood in an 8 hour period, but it is hard work. Living in a rural area makes it very easy for me to obtain firewood because all I use is downed or dead wood. I have about 60 acres to cut from, so the wood is always very plentiful for me. There are other ways of obtaining your firewood. Simply contact your local forestry service and ask about any permits they may have for collecting downed and dead wood from national forests in your area. They will be more than happy to give you all the wood you want for your personal use because this helps prevent forest fires in extremely dry conditions. Keep in mind, this will require a chain saw and truck to haul the wood, as well as some type of wood splitting device in order to burn the wood you harvest.

My wood splitter is a simple device. It resembles a sledge hammer with a sharpened end and can be used to split logs or drive an ax through the tougher pieces to help make the task a little easier. This is a very primitive way to split wood, but it is very efficient and allows me to get plenty of exercise in the process. Another method is to buy a wood splitter. Some are gas powered and range in price from $750.00 to $2000.00. Manual hydralic splitters and electric electric models are far less expensive, starting around $100.00, but they will not allow you to split the larger logs because they just don’t generate enough power to do the job. This is just another example of getting what you pay for. The least expensive method that I personally use is very effective, but it is also very labor intense.

Another factor you may want to consider is your age and ability to handle the sometimes heavy material, as well as the labor involved in cutting and splitting your firewood. My mother is 76 years old and uses wood heat as her only source of home heat in a 3 bedroom/ 2bath home. Her age alone may make this sound exceptional, but she has had two major back surgeries in the past 5 years and insists on wood heat because it seems to warm her small 4′ 8″ frame through and through. I cut and split the wood for her, and even put it on her back porch, but she is the one that loads the heater and keeps her fire going. I used to tell all my family and friends,”Ma only builds one fire every year… She just never lets it go out!”

You local hardware store or authorized dealer is an excellent place to get expert advice with any questions you may have concerning the size heater you will need for the area your are attempting to condition, as well as helping you decide on the safest way to vent the smoke from your home. They may even be able to suggest or recommend a qualified installer for your new heat source if they don’t perform the service themselves. It really helps if you have a general idea of your homes square footage. This will be one of the first questions they will ask you when you make your inquiry.

If you are a “Do-it-Yourself er” and plan on installing the stove pipe yourself, be sure to inquire about any fire codes that may apply to your home imposed by local or state fire officials and conform to any requirements they may enforce for the safety of your home and family. Keep in mind, many insurance companies will not cover any losses due to fire if your unit was self installed without proper fire inspection and prior notification of the changes to your basic heating systems so that they may take the opportunity to adjust your insurance rates. I strongly recommend you use a professional installer if you are unfamiliar with remodeling and fire safety codes. Although this is a very efficient way to help lower you heating costs, it is even more important that the new system is installed properly for you, your family, and your properties safety.


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