I’m a such a sucker for roaring fire.
I grew up with wood heat, and to this day, if I’m in a house during winter without some sort of heat source to stand next to, my soul feels a bit empty.
When we moved into our little prairie house in 2008, it only had a forced-air furnace and that was a serious bummer. Not to mention, the 100-year old house had pathetic insulation and the curtains would actually move when the wind blew. We pretty much froze the first four years of living here, as the furnace could never keep up with the brutal Wyoming temperatures, even when it was running full-blast.
In 2013, we finally bit the bullet and installed a wood stove. The stove crowded our already-miniscule living room, but I didn’t care– my house was warm and I finally could stand next to a roaring fire on the subzero days. So of course, when we did our extreme farmhouse makeover, there was no question in our mind we would have wood heat in the new portion of the house. In fact, we ended up moving the same stove from our old living room into the new living room.
I’ve received a number of questions about the feasibility of heating a homestead with wood, so I figured it was time to answer those questions today. I don’t claim to be an expert in this realm in the slightest, but I’m happy to share our experiences if they’ll help someone in the decision making process. So, let’s dive in.
How We Heat (Almost) Exclusively with Wood
(Here’s the video walkthrough– keep scrolling if you’d prefer the text version (with photos!)
Heating with Wood: WHY?
I’ll be the first to say that heating with wood isn’t for everyone. There are availability, location, and cost considerations, not to mention it’s a lifestyle choice of sorts. But, here are the reasons we personally chose to heat our homestead house with wood:
Notice I didn’t say ‘free’… Heating with wood still costs money. However, at least for us, heating with wood saves us a LOT of cash as compared to purchasing propane, especially when propane prices spike. Here’s a helpful article that compares costs of various heating methods. In our area, if you want a cord of wood that is already split and ready to go, you can expect to pay around $150/cord. We use around 5 cords per year. However, we prefer to get full logs, which drops our price down to around $100/cord. (More on that below.)
It’s a renewable resource.
I know some of my readers have trees they harvest right from their land… And if that’s you, I’m exceedingly jealous. We only have a few trees here out on the Prairie Homestead, and there’s no way I’d ever cut them down for firewood. However, there are plenty of beetle-killed trees in the nearby mountains (about 1.5-2 hours away) and those make an excellent source of firewood.
Actually, this point should come with a caveat– heating with wood *can* be efficient, as long as you have the right stove. Older models can really burn through the wood and you’ll find yourself using a lot of extra fuel. However, newer stoves do a better job of creating maximum heat with a more minimal amount of wood.
It’s not dependent on electricity.
This was a BIG one for us. Previously when we only had the furnace, I was scared to death the power would go out for an extended period of time. If it were to take the power company several days to fix the problem (which has happened…) we would have no way to heat the house or even keep the pipes from bursting. I hated the feeling of being a sitting duck. With our wood stove, the power could be out for weeks and we’d be just fine. And bonus– I could even cook on the wood stove if I really needed to.
It fits our lifestyle.
What can I say? We’re wood stove junkies… We love a roaring fire, and Prairie Husband even loves cutting firewood and splitting kindling. It fits our philosophy of life, and the slight inconvenience of it doesn’t bother us a bit.
What About the Wood?
My main bit of advice here is to use what is most readily available to you. For us, that’s pine. Like I mentioned above, there is an abundance of beetle-kill trees locally, so that’s what we use. Pine burns a bit faster than some of the harder woods, but it’d be silly (and pretty much impossible) for us to source anything else in our area. (Our pin is ponderosa and lodgepole.) We have yet to make the trek to the mountains to harvest the wood ourselves, but have had good luck with paying folks to bring it to us. Prairie Husband gets a truckload of big logs, uses a chain saw to cut them into rounds, and then his homemade, tractor-powered log splitter to split into firewood. You can usually get pre-split firewood delivered too, but you know us– we like to do things the hard way. 🙂 (And it’s cheaper to get the big logs, anyway.)
Currently, we are borrowing a mobile sawmill from a friend and experimenting with sawing logs into boards for windbreaks and other projects. (You know, because we need more projects…) This yields a lot of scrap pieces which we’ve been using as firewood, which is handy because we currently have a never-ending supply that’s almost free.
We don’t have covered firewood storage, so sometimes our pile gets covered with snow. It’s so dry here, it doesn’t take too long for the wood to dry out. However, if you live somewhere super damp like the Pacific Northwest (where I grew up), it’s probably wise to have a shed or shelter of sorts. Otherwise, you’ll be dealing with wet wood all the time, which will make you extremely sad when you’re freezing and craving a hot fire.
We usually keep a large stack of split wood over by our shop, and then fill up this homemade “bunk” to transport wood closer to the house. Prairie Husband made it to be easily picked up by the tractor, so we fill it at the big pile and then drive it over to the back porch. It’s pretty nifty. We prefer not to have firewood stacked next to the house, as it can be a fire hazard.
Is it Hard to Keep a Fire Going?
No, not really. At least not with the stove we have. We opted for a wood stove with a catalytic converter, and it has been very efficient for us. (You can ready more about why we chose this model here.) We fill it full of wood first thing in the morning and then again at night. As long as we adjust the thermostat on the stove properly, it does a fabulous job of regulating itself all throughout the day and the night. Since Prairie Husband and I both work from home, we can tend the fire if we need to, but it’s honestly not needed. I have no doubt if we left for work during the day, the house would still be warm when we returned at night.
What About Back-Up Heat?
As we were doing our remodel, we opted to still install a propane-powered furnace in the house as well. Our reasoning was two-fold:
- We wanted a back-up source of heat for when we are traveling or if we can’t keep the fire going for an extended period of time.
- We didn’t want to hurt the resale value of our home. Not that we plan to move anytime soon, but we know there are a lot of people who might not be too keen on having wood heat as their only option if they were ever to buy our house.
Even though we rely on the wood stove 98% of the time, it’s reassuring to know we have a back-up option if we need it.
Is Heating with Wood a Safety Hazard?
It can be, I suppose, but we feel the risk is minimal when the proper precautions are taken. We keep the stove pipe clean and have made sure the stove has the proper clearances from the walls, etc. (We used corrugated steel for the stove surround, and landscaping paving bricks for the base. And yes, before anyone sends me an email saying that isn’t up to code– it is. We had it officially inspected. Also, our model of stove has heat shields which keeps the back and sides of the stove surprisingly cool.)
As far as having little kids in the house with a wood stove, it’s never been an issue for us. I think a large part of that is thanks to the platform we made for the stove– it raises it up off the floor enough that it’s not as appealing for them to get close to it. And they understand it’s hot and naturally stay away from it anyway– even the little ones.
Do You Cook on Your Wood Stove?
Not really, although I’ve experimented with it a few times. Unfortunately in order to get the stove hot often to even semi-heat the food, I had to have a raging fire in it, and it about ran us out of the house. If it was my only option, I’d use it, but it’s really not designed for that. I do like to set my rising bread dough near the stove, though. That’s pretty handy.
Any Must-Have Accessories?
A cool wood box is always nice– we repurposed this old tinder box that Prairie Husband salvaged while on a construction job years ago. I painted it with milk paint and if it the paint gets chipped from storing the wood, it just makes it look cooler.
We also love this little fan that sits on the back of the stove. It requires ZERO electricity and helps keep the air moving. (We got ours on Amazon– (affiliate link))
So no… heating with wood isn’t for everyone, but it’s definitely a fit for us. And when the Wyoming winds are howling and the snow is blowing, you can bet you’ll find me hunkered down by the fire with a cup of chai and a good book. 🙂
Listen to the Old Fashioned On Purpose podcast episode #58 on this topic HERE.
Vince Cowley says
Nice article on wood heating. We live in northern Colorado (aka olmost Wyoming Colorado) and have heated with wood since we built our house in 1999. I grew up with a standard fireplace so, to me, it was shocking how little wood our stove used to heat the house. Through the years, we have been able to maintain a consistant supply of free wood making our heating costs next to zero (we also have a propane furnace we use from time to time.) We purchased our stove used for $700 and it has more than paid for itself in fuel cost savings. We also have a fan that recovers heat from the flue gases that makes our old style stove quite a bit more effecient. Thanks again for the article.
Jill Winger says
Yes– it is amazing how efficient a quality stove can be! And so neat you have saved so much- i love that!
Lisa Steele says
Great article Jill. We moved into our first wood-heated home here in Maine a year and a half ago and swear by wood heat. We do have a furnace as backup, but we keep the thermostat set to around 50 degrees, just to keep things from freezing overnight, and heat by wood on cold days. We have acres and acres of woods that we could harvest, but so far we’re still working our way through the wood pile the previous owners left us. I think cut, dried, split wood is about $250 a cord around here -which is weird because Maine is FULL of trees! – but you can get longer lengths cheaper.
I’m a sucker for wood heat too – its just so different than furnace heat and you can’t beat sitting by the wood stove, wrapped in a throw, sipping coffee! Your stove is gorgeous and I love the corrugated metal and stones you used.
Jill Winger says
Wow– that’s crazy that Maine firewood is more costly. Like you, I’d have assumed it was cheaper. I’m jealous you can harvest wood on your own land! 😉
Jane Overton says
Are you in Maine?! Me too.
Mike Tanner says
I’m not Maine or Wyoming, but stuck out in the North Atlantic in Nova Scotia where wood heat is just as welcome.. We heat our 100+ year old home with two wood stoves and a wood boiler from our own ash forest.
Michael simpson says
It is expensive for several reasons. Most wood is harvested commercially. The equipment to do this costs hundreds of thousands of dollars. Theses contractors have to find private land to harvest and then buy the stumpage and if necessary build a road to it. As with supply and demand, there is a huge demand for it. if you want the good hard wood stuff (oak, beech, maple, birch) it can take 1 to 2 years for it to dry.
Retired forester. Down east Maine.
Great article! We also love hearing our home with wood! Almond wood burns so great. Do you have any tips on getting the heat to circulate to bedroom areas that are farther from the stove? We turn ceiling fans on reverse but it doesn’t seem to do much. In order to warm up the corner rooms of our home the main living area gets uncomfortably warm.
Jill Winger says
That can be a tough one, depending on the layout of your house. We just use ceiling fans, but still have a couple far away rooms that are definitely cooler.
Lina Brewer says
If you put a small fan on the floor at the bedroom door and turn it so it blows out into the hall, it will remove the colder air from the floor and pull in the warmer air from the hall and living room. This will balance the temp in any area of the house. The only disadvantage is you have to leave your door ajar.
We live in GA and love our wood-burning buck stove. Just wanted to mention that burning pine can be very dangerous. It causes a pine rosin creosote that is much worse about causing a fire in the chimney flue. We were always warned by our chimney smith not to use it. We use a little tiny bit of pine like maybe 1 to 2 pieces of pine kindling about 6-7″ long and about as big around as a finger to start the fire. Once started all the wood that is burned is hardwood. Just please be very careful and have your flue checked once a year. Enjoy the warmth!
They have a Blaze King by the looks of it and they burn very clean. I live Pacific North West, Canada, and have a Blaze King ,and burnt as instructed, no smoke comes out the chimney. These stoves with the catylist are very efficient because they burn the particles in the smoke and mostly heat waves go up the chimney. I heat a three story barn style with 3 1/2 to 4 cords a year . We have a backup gas furnace which seldom is used. Mine gets loaded twice a day only. These heaters are phenomenal!!! Lol and no I don’t sell them they, in my opinion, are the best ! One friend I have has a Blaze King and burns nothing but cedar, no problems. My son has a Blaze King and has burnt yellow cedar, which is full of natural oils, and I have seen older stoves buckle etc from yellow cedar. Sorry just can’t say enough about Blaze King.
Also the Blaze King has a set up under it so fresh air from outside can be connected to it. With this connection you are not burning the air out of your living space. Please look up and study this stove if you are thinking of it. Blaze King also ,from what I have read, is one of the only ones with a trailer model that passes inspection. They used to have an insert for fireplaces model but I am not sure if that is allowable any more. ?
Good article to help out those who are considering wood heat. We live in a cabin that was heated only with wood until a year ago but still use the woodstove most of the time. It is important to have a good wood stove as the fire will burn longer and at a more consistent temperature. Ours is a Vermont Castings (Defiant) and we love it–it’s a looker as well as a work horse. Nothing like wood heat and nothing like facing winter with the secure feeling of having plenty of firewood!
I am so jealous of all of you – I dream of a wood stove heated home. Until then, I’ll be burning firewood in the fireplace. 🙁
One perk here in Kentucky is that we have enough trees on the ground in the woods to heat our home until Jesus comes back…… if I only had a stove.
Paul Ganglre says
Check Craig’s List or Kijiji. There are always good used wood-stoves advertised but try to buy one that is newer as regulations on emissions are being tightened.
Prairie Wife says
We went with a pellet stove when we finished our basement and I have to say The Cowboy was right when he decided that’s what we needed. It not only keep the basement toasty but the heat rises and the rest of the house stays warmer (at less cost). Needing electricity is a must with this but, we have a generator (and neighbors with a wood stove) if the worst happens! Plus, hucking 40lb bags of pellets downstairs is a great workout 😉
Jill Winger says
Yes, good you have a generator!
We have a regular fireplace but love it- so cozy all winter. Only heats the room we’re in but that’s the nature of it. We (and our cats) cozy up all evening. I get so excited when we pile the wood up in the Fall 🙂 !! This past year we had to have 2 trees removed, something I hate to do but it was necessary, so next year we won’t have to buy any wood.
Stay warm and cozy!!
Jill Winger says
You too, Sue!
Toni Barchak says
Our little homestead is in the middle of our 80 acres in Michigan’s UP. We have federal land around us. We harvest our wood from our own land. We pick only trees that are ready to fall. Bass wood,maple and some ash and sometimes red cedar. This is our only heat. Our wood stove reburns the gases that the wood releases. Like you we have invested in an eco-fan and love it! We also make our own maple syrup from the sap our wonderful maples produce. Wood heat is the best in our situation, we are off grid for the most part and our electricity comes from two solar panel arays. On cold freezing days, I use my wood stove as an all day slow cooking, dinner preparing source.
toni how does the stove reburn the gases? is this a stove feature?
Most likely it recycles some smoke back into the fire to reburn it. I have a small coffee can camping stove that does this. Sucks the smoke as it rises and runs it back down to add to fresh air. My camp stove burns anything and doesn’t smoke.
They must have a Blaze King they cycle the smoke through a catylist, which is a ceramic block with tiny holes through it, and it gets very hot. If I remember correctly it’s over 1000 degrees and it burns the particles in the smoke. These stoves do not get that hot on the sides, the back or the front. Most of the hotter part is on the top middle forward part just above the catylist.
Jill Winger says
oh man– I am so jealous of your maple syrup harvesting! Sounds wonderful!
Larry LaBonte says
Good article on heating with wood.
Hi, Jill. Hope you are thoroughly enjoying your Mexico trip. This particular article reminded me how much we loved the wood stove in a home in Idaho. The original builder/owner installed one between the living room and kitchen/dining area on the first floor (albeit within a huge, lava rock fireplace that was quite the eyesore).
The heat it put out amazed me. It was the most consistent, comfortable heat I’ve ever experienced. Plus, it heated up the entire house, as long as all of the bedroom and bath doors were left open. It was also very quiet compared to electric versions. In fact, the wood stove is the one thing I miss about that house, and Idaho. Cheers, Ardith
Jill Winger says
Sounds super cozy, Ardith!
Robert DeFord says
We once cooked a small turkey inside the wood stove one thanksgiving when the electricity went out. We let the wood inside burn down to a bed of coals about three to four inches thick, then put the turkey in a roasting pan and put the pan on top of the coals. Then, we closed the damper down to the setting we use to keep a fire going all night long. We closed the air-tight stove door, and let it do its thing. Four hours later, the coals were almost gone, but the turkey was cooked, and, as an added bonus, it had a delightful smoky flavor. We did a pot of stew a few times after that, and we roasted some veggies using the same technique. The house stayed cozy, not hot at all.
Jill Winger says
Wow– I never would have thought of doing that!
Bonni Benhard says
Did you know the amount of particulate matter that goes into the air with wood burning. It is great in an emergency but on a daily basis it is so detrimental to the air quality.
Bob Erickson says
True; there is particulate matter from a wood stove. But the high efficiency ones she is talking about burn very clean and the particulate matter is minimal compared to an open and unregulated fire. The combustion gases are similar but even a gas heater releases those. But gas and oil are not renewable. Burn it wisely and compost the waste material is a productive use of natural resources. Just eliminate the pre-football game bonfires.
Ha ha again they must have a Blaze King I believe they will be one of the wood heaters that will pass the pollutants test if they ever bring the ban on wood burning.
Karen Espalin says
Our house is a daylight basement, so the warm heat from our woodstove downstairs rises to warm up the upstairs. We do have a natural gas furnace but we keep the wood stove going. This last couple of weeks we had temperatures down to 14 degrees. We were perfectly comfortable in the house. Those are unusual temps for the Willamette Valley in Oregon.
Our property has a creek running along two sides and every year trees fall into the creek. When spring arrives my guys go “water logging” mostly maple trees.
Mary Lynn says
Thanks for the blog post on heating with wood. I, too, heat my home with wood cut from our farm. Fortunately we have oak, ash, locust, walnut, cherry and other trees from which to choose. There is something about the heat from a wood stove or fireplace that just warms you better. Don’t know why. I’m sure you’ve heard the saying “Wood heats you twice; once when you cut it and again when you burn it”. So true!
My stove is located in my basement with my living space on the first floor and my bedroom on the second floor. A large floor fan near the woodstove helps move the heat up the stairs to the first floor where a ceiling fan is set to push the air downward helping to keep the warm air in the living room and kitchen. That leaves the bedroom on the second floor VERY cool indeed when the temps are single digits but we like it like that. Nothing a nice down comforter (or two) can’t fix!
Love that portable wood storage bunk you have. We, too, try to keep wood away from the house mainly because dead wood is often occupied with hundreds of bugs, ants and, sometimes, termites!
Jill Winger says
Definitely agree– fans are super helpful!
We have been heating our house in Wisconsin with a wood stove for the past 20+ years. We have never bought wood since my husband always seems to find someone who wants trees cut down in exchange for the wood, after a storm or when clearing some land. We have another wood stove in the basement that we only light during extremely cold weather, and we have a natural gas furnace which we hardly ever use. In addition to all the advantages in your article, one more for us is that it sometimes gets so warm in our living room that we have to open the windows, which lets in fresh air that we need during winter.
Jill Winger says
Yes– I totally agree!
Krista Edwards says
Hey Jill! Glad I read your post! We love our wood stove as well. We’re actually in the market for a new one because ours is pretty old and isn’t very efficient anymore. We’re trying to make it through this winter with the one we have and purchase in spring when hopefully they’ll be more reasonably priced. So your stove doesn’t require electricity? Ours has an electric fan that blows the air out (although-that just quit on us last week which is why we’re going to replace it). What kind is it then if it doesn’t need electricity?
And does it provide enough heat in your home to heat the bathrooms and bedrooms and such? Our stove is out by our living area and kitchen, but the bedrooms and bathrooms stay cold, so we use our forced air heating system to warm those rooms.
Jill Winger says
Nope– no electricity required. We opted out of the electric fan option for this model. Before the remodel, it easily heated the whole house– although the upstairs was pretty cold and we use a small heater up there. Now that the house is bigger, the kids back bedroom is a little chilly, but not horrible.
Daryle in VT says
“Before anyone sends me an email saying that (it) isn’t up to code … ”
Well, here’s your email. Your stove installation might not be up to code.
I started heating with wood when I had to load the family wood stove when I was 9. That was 55 years ago. I sold wood stoves professionally for over 30 years here in Vermont. Maine (hard)wood costs more than Wyoming (soft)wood because it weighs more per piece. The heat value in fire wood by the pound is equal, softwood vs. hardwood, but not by the piece.
No wood stove “re-burns” gases. The gases only burn once.
There is not now, nor never was, any such thing as an air-tight wood stove. If you don’t believe me, just toss (your) wood stove into the (fire) pond behind the house. An air-tight stove would have floated.
Jill, a new catalytic wood stove is not as efficient as a new non-catalytic wood stove.
I know how to tell if that pile of wood you neatly stacked is a cord or not.
If your stove overheats, the Eco-fan will self destruct.
If you think there is any chance I know what I’m talking about, email me privately and I will help you verify the safety of your installation.
Jill Winger says
I know our installation is up to code because we had it inspected by the building inspector. I know there is a lot of debate over catalytic vs. non-catalytic, but we are really happy with ours.
Victoria CB Trees says
Pacific Northwest! Whereabouts? I’m from Chehalis, SW Washington. Now I’m at 4300 feet elevation, southern Oregon with weather much like yours. I also heat almost exclusively with wood. Lodgepole pine mostly. I do have it delivered. I’m over 60 and work full time, so just don’t have the time, energy or will to go get my own. But I love my woodstove, that’s for sure! Great article!
Jill Winger says
I’m originally from Moscow, ID 🙂
Robert Kenny says
We have an Elite fireplace from Western Fireplaces in Colorado Springs. It has a unique feature – in addition to using outside air for combustion, there is a separate outside air system that pulls air thru a filter and pressurizes the home, with air escaping out the bathroom vents. Our home is at 7600′ and when it was -25° the fireplace kept our home at 72 with pine.
Nice Article. I love wood heat too.
I have used a Jenson Coal/Wood Furnace tied to my oil furnace and ducts for almost 30 years. I use the whole house ducts for even distribution. I only use a thermostat on the oil and set it low. I normally only build fires on the weekend as we are not around most days. The wood has a even, constant heat that lasts long and I can cut back on logs mid day and keep the house a steady 68 which feels more like 72.
As you all, I love the steady warmth of a wood fire, coal last longer but can burn quite hot and hard to regulate temps in the house so I will only throw a small shovel onto the wood coals to keep it burning longer without attention.
I used to burn dead debarked pine as I had beetles that ate the sap killing the trees but got a few cords of Cherry FREE and was quite happy with the cost ! A cord in PA runs $170-200 and it’s mostly forest here too. Funny it seems to cost more the more trees there are.
Jill Winger says
Sounds like you have a very efficient system– awesome!
Peacock Orchard says
I hate the power going out. Happens all the time for us too. I’d love to install a heat stove. We have a fireplace but…..doesn’t heat anything. One wall at a time though.
Jill Winger says
It’s a process for sure!
Storage. I had an old water trough that wouldn’t hold water anymore. To many fixes already. We turned it on its side and it’s perfect for storing wood near the house and it doesn’t look terrible. You could even paint it to match if you wanted. We had a tarp to cover the front but haven’t found that we have needed to use it. Just a little thought from the middle of Nebraska.
Haven’t needed to use the tarp
Jill Winger says
I love that idea!
Tammie Warren says
I would build two or three more bunks and stak wood in them as you split. Then you only handle it once!
we used to have an electric furnace for heat when we lived in the city. But when we built this home in the country back in the early 1980’s, we put in a wood stove as well as an electric furnace. With frequent power outages, we were very happy we made that choice. We replaced our old barrel style wood stove about 8 years ago with a very efficient Vogelzang wood stove. Our duct work blew out 2 winters ago, and since then our main source of heat has been the wood stove. The cost of a cord of wood seasoned,split and delivered has gone from $125 a cord to $350 a cord ( found some for $235 a cord this year) ,we use about 1-11/2 cords a season. When we compare that to the cost of running the electric furnace $400-$650 a month, the wood stove wins hands down. We also have added a propane heater (The Big Buddy) to supplement on days when the wood stove cant keep up. Those days are rare here in central Texas, but they do happen.
Jim D says
I don’t remember a time we did not employ a wood stove. About ten years ago I figured out how to produce kindling w/o much work.
I had purchased a couple dozen sheets of 3/4 plywood for misc. out building construction projects at $3.00 a sheet. They were salvage from BIA housing demolition and already starting to delaminate, thus the cheap price. What I didn’t use was simply stacked and tarped.
Well, the condensation that collected under the tarp accelerated the delamination to the point that I could literally peel a whole 4×8 sheet of 1/8″ veneer. It was easy to fold and crack into strips and further into usable lengths. No saw, no axe. Only an occasional wrecking bar or pry bar to get the process started.
It now takes about two hrs to make a whole seasons worth of kindling that I store in five gallon pails. I smile every time I start the morning fire and remember all the time wasted splitting rounds finer and finer to produce kindling. You’ll never find a better kindling.
Jill Winger says
Very cool Jim!
Thank you for this. We plan on cooking and heating our small dream home with a wood cook stove. This was a great read, and I pinned it for later. We don’t plan on making the move for a few years, but this information is still something we will use. The great thing about wood heat is it has been around for a while. 😉
Janet Chaney says
Great article! I love a warm fire, and grew up with a wood stove at home. We have a wood furnace for our pole barn we use as needed, and will be adding another for the house this year. Currently heat the house with propane only, expensive!
We are lucky enough to have a neighbor with a tree service! He needed a place to dispose of the wood. We share and barter with them often. Since I am retired, his children spend time with us often enjoying the farm and giving them a safe place. There’s very few families close by, and my neighbors are just awesome folks. The bonus is the boy (15) loves to split wood and “pet the cows”! The little sister (12) likes to make kindling sticks, and wants to learn how to milk goats this spring. The dad and I barter honey for goats milk (shhh i didn’t say that).
I am building a new home now, after a chimney fire destroyed my house. (Sad, sad, sad…) I am debating between using my zero clearance fireplace again, getting a wood stove, or getting this La Nordica America cook stove that works as an oven, a barbeque grill, and a wood stove. (It wouldn’t be in the kitchen, it will be in the living space.)The decision is so difficult!!! I can’t be without wood heat though…I’m like you… my soul would be searching.
We live in sw Pa and have heated with wood for over 20 yrs. Ours is piped into the same ductwork as the gas furnace. Keeps the bedrooms cozy. Wood heat make my arthritis better than the fluctuating heat of the gas furnace. Last year we had 4 oak trees come down in a storm, so we have lots of wood. Wood burner is in the basement so no mess to clean in living area.
I grew up on wood heat and loved it though I will say I hate doing firewood. We installed a wood stove in our home last year and it heats the whole house with no issues and always feels so warm and cozy. Great read.
John Pickar says
Wood heat is our only source of heat. We have heated this way for 26 years. We live in northwest MT. We have 10 acres of trees. He the trees grow tall and thick. We are just now getting the trees thinned out a little. Cost is gas for the chainsaw and tractor. We love wood heat. It brings dirt in the house but we just sweep it up every day or two. Not a big issue when you have a dog and two active boys. Those days are past so the only dirt we track in is wood related. Not a big issue.
I absolutely love my wood burning fireplace, but I don’t burn pine because of the build-up of creosote. I have no experience with wood burners. Is there no concern with creosote since the pipes are metal? Or is Prairie Husband able to clean it often enough so that it isn’t a concern? Just wondering.
DIANA LAMBERT says
My previous husband and I used wood heat exclusively, in the winter I dried my youngest son’s diapers on a line over the stove. I loved it. Now my present husband and I are 73 and 60 years old, and we would both love to use wood heat but have gotten to the point where we would have to pay for wood which means it would put us at a disadvantage. I SO miss the days when we would go out and cut wood, I had such a sense of accomplishment and joy when we did that. then when we burned the wood it all came back
I was raised with wood heat, and still have it today. We get a wood permit and gather our year(s) supply from the local Forest lands very economically. We recently had a short power outage and we were toasty and had hot tasty soup cooked on top of the stove. I’ve known folks who say they don’t like the mess of heating with wood, but I’ll always have a wood stove in my house here in Montana because you just don’t know when you might need one!
Daryle Thomas says
I believe you said your home also has a furnace. On the plenum, which is the start of the forced air system, there is a ‘fan-limit switch’ which starts the blowers when the plenum air is hot enough. On that switch is an over-ride knob that either pulls out or pushes in to start the blowers when there isn’t enough heat, or the furnace is off. Turning on the furnace blower circulates wood stove heat throughout the house via the duct system used by the furnace. Turning the blower on for a half hour or so, a couple times a day, can make a big difference in the overall home comfort.
Happy New Year, 2018!
It’s been so nice to receive your emails. Your information is great and you have such a great “go to it” attitude.
We have a new wood stove like the one in your picture. From the first fire until today we have seen the benefits. Last week we had record lows of -40 to -50C. One of the nights the main power line snapped and we slepted on because of the wood heat! Neighbors had to bundle in ski suits to make it. We are so thankful for the stove. The basement is on the cool side because we didn’t plumb it to the main vents but socks and fleece blankets solve cold tootsy problems, 😎
We use large plastic tubs to carry the wood in and it takes care of a lot of the mess. The tubs are pulled to the door on a calves sled. So easy to pull!
We purchased a great whistling kettle with a layered stainless steel bottom and it works great for boiling water (not as fast as the stove but free heat). Bucking wood and chopping is a lot of work. I’m hoping to help buy a good splitter for someone’s birthday, 😎
p.s. I invested in a Amish wood clothes dryer a few years back. We dry many things by the stove and our electric bill is way down. Between this wood stove, Instant Pot, electric roaster we’ve saved so much money.
Kit Kelley says
We also have several folding ,wooden clothes drying racks, and they work great. Our clothes smell better coming from a wind dried clothes-line, but in the depth of winter, clothes from the line can be like handling sheets of plywood, and require indoor drying in the end. Our dryer (electric) is used only on rare occasions. It’s a good feeling to utilize choices beyond the power grid and fossil fuel alternatives.
Kit Kelley says
One last comment. In David McCullough’s book 1776, he wrote that George Washington, in preparation for the siege of Boston. “authorized an order for 10,000 cords of firewood.” (p 57) He also wrote “With firewood selling for $20 a cord in Boston, more and more trees were cut down…..”(p 73)That’s an unimaginable amount of wood for one winter, and the wood vendors didn’t have chain saws.
Kit Kelley says
My wife and I love just about everything about heating with wood. I love the feel of wood, the exercise cutting ,splitting, handling, the savings in cash, the freedom if powers down, the weekend stews, etc. It’s no for anyone who is fussy about dirt in the house. And for the disposal of the ashes, they can be recycles in the soil knowing a little goes a long way…..the ashes are caustic and should be spread with care.
Enjoy the info and the resulting strings.
Pam Williams says
We have heated with wood, almost exclusively, since the winter of 1979 and love it. The propane even then was too expensive for us and we are still thankful for the savings in cost to harvest our own wood in the summer. We say it warms us up three times. Once when we get it, once splitting and stacking, and then when we burn it in our Earth Stove. I’m not sure these stoves are available anymore but it has been great for our home, even to -40 degrees at night and up to Zero through the day. That particular year we had frost knobs on the screw heads that hold our light switch plate on, on the kitchen wall it was so cold out side. (So glad it doesn’t get that cold most winters though) I love the constant heat flow, the lower cost to run, and the ability to cook on it if needed on very cold days when it has to have more wood to keep us warm all day. We are getting up in years also and I dread the time we will have to hire out or give up the wood heat. We live in southern Colorado and we recently installed a small propane heater in case we need more heat or have to go somewhere in the winter, to keep the house from freezing up.
Gale Stovall says
We have been heating our house with a Clayton wood furnace for 15 years it sits in the basement right next to our propane central heat and air conditioning unit the wood furnace has a fan that blows hot air through the central heat duct. The wood furnace has a Stainless Steel coil in it a small pump and copper tubing to a large electric water heater the wood furnace provides all our hot water in the winter time. The wood furnace heats our 3600 square foot house some times it also heats our 2 car attached garage. Our furnace looks like a huge tan metal box with 2 cast iron doors not very romantic, we can not cook on it or even warm up food on it durring power outage with out electric fan it doesn’t heat the house very good. We burn 5 cords of hard wood from our farm in Missouri I love cutting firewood we put firewood in a large contractor wheelborow push it into the walkout basement to the furnace very little dirt.
Not familiar with the Blaze King but am interested in installing a tulikivi or rocket stove. The tulikivi works via radiant heat. Supposedly you can burn pine w/o worrying about creosote buildup because it’s a contraflow system that will burn it cleanly. There is no polluting exhaust exiting the top of the chimney.
Thanks for the article. We use a combination of wood and electric, but are in the process of trying to use wood as our primary. Curious–how many square feet are you heating with 5 cords a burn season? And does your heat permeate to the farther corners of your home/bedrooms/etc? Thanks.
Jennifer Stevens says
We heat our old farm house with three wood stoves- they are our only heat source. I have a wood fired cook stove in my kitchen & it was the best purchase we ever made. We are dairy farmers so we aren’t away from home long, we are very blessed to have 1,000 acres of property to get our wood from. With a family of 9 saving money on heating our house helps a ton! There is nothing like the cozy warmth of a wood stove.
David B. Gaylord says
When we built the addition on the house 600 sq ft we installed a vent above the wood stove with a bathroom fan in line in the ceiling with ducting through the attic to the new room really keeps the house warm. My stove is an Osburn Regent 1500 installed in 1985 love it main heat source. House is 1825 sq ft and we are toasty. Since 1985 I have never bought any wood use free wood off Craigs list and construction cuts offs a friend dumped 2 trailer loads of cut off this week that will carry me thru the season.
Chuck Hall says
We live in a tiny house (12×24), been hearing with wood for 2yrs, we have deadfall on property, and use pallets as an extra. Picking up pallets free is not so hard, then about 1-2 hours we have a week’s worth of wood.
Merry Christmas to you and your family!
Mike Jones says
Never burn pallets inside unless you like breathing in toxic fumes moron. They treat those things you citiot
Is there a log company that you recommend?
Jerry Ewnzel says
How do you feel about transporting invasive insects in the name of trying to be offgrid? Seems like the potential to cause more damage by spreading the beetles around wasnt thought through very well.
Curious how do you get the fireplace going initially with it stuffed full of logs like that. We’re new to wood heat, having just bought our property in WY and the least efficient part of the day is lighting kindling, wait, adding small logs, wait, add a couple big logs, wait for a nice coal bed, then add the wood for the afternoon. Ugh! I’d love to be able to just get on with the day! And we have found some folks down in CO who have downed trees we can go cut up for free! We have a splitter here at home – not as nice as yours 😉
It’s taken me a couple of years to get the fire starting system down. Now, it can have a great fire going in the morning in about 1/2 hour. I can then stuff it full, and be good til the afternoon. It’s a shop heater, so doesn’t stay lit overnight. It’s a perfect environment to work in! I do this before breakfast, and find it a great way to start the day. Thenbest part is gathering and splitting. This way, you get warm a few times besides heating your house and/or shop!
Yes, Jill, I enjoyed the video but would love to see how you get your fire started. I can’t see how you can start a fire will all that wood inside. That seems to be the hardest part, especially when it is super cold outside or the wind is blowing down the stovepipe. Sometimes the smoke just comes back into the house when I am trying to start the fire.
It is funny how we are all so different…. we had a very nice wood stove….which we tried several times…. the smell that gets in your clothes and home is awful…for me anyway…. the fire also made my sons allergies so bad…that we had to leave and go to a hotel… no complaints from me…..I cleaned out the stove..and aired Our home out…..LOL
The have never enjoyed an out door fire….I would disappear inside…..and insisted clothes were shed in Laundry Room ….you were given a towel and sent to the shower…? so after all of that…. family or friends had no desire to have an outdoor fire at our home….LOL. that was my plan all along….?
Kayla- Prairie Homestead Assistant says
Oh no! It’s so sad to hear about your bad experiences with a wood stove! I guess we all have our preferences and things that do/don’t work for us.
Daniel Wengerd says
Good morning, I would be interested in how Christian built the log splitter attachment for the tractor. We are in the process of switching to all wood heat and have a good tractor that this would be great to build. Thank you.
We live in MidCoast ME and have a wood burner out in the yard. It is such a pain to sling big pieces of wood into the huge burner 4 x per day (big old house). I was glad when wood was so expensive we switched over to our old oil system. Now oil is through the roof! Wood burning is so very bad for the environment and now we know it is absolutely terrible for your indoor air quality too. It is worse for your children’s lungs than if they lived in house full of smokers. Ugh. Love your set up!