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Efficient Ways to Use Wood to Heat Your Home

summer s'mores and bonfires

We have heated our home exclusively with wood since we moved here in 2003. We love the cozy feel of heat and the money it saves us. Here is a guest post by Peter Gray that explains how to heat your home efficiently with a wood stove.

How to efficiently heat your home with a wood stove.

As we continue to learn more and more about sustainable living, we’re finding new ways to heat our homes, without increasing our carbon footprint. In some cases, we’ve even brought back old fashioned means of creating heat, like wood-burning stoves. 

Kids stacking wood.

However, burning wood as a source of heat takes a lot of effort and is quite a commitment. But as more and more people are turning to this natural heating source, we’re finding new and improved means for making wood-burning more efficient. 

Wood heat is cozy, environmentally friendly, and efficient!

What You’ll Need

Using a wood-burning stove to heat your home is no doubt a commitment. If you don’t already have a stove, you’ll need to get one. And, you’ll want to have it professionally installed. This is not something that can be slapped into your home in an hour or two. 

Family camping is a great way to bond and enjoy the great outdoors.

What Type of Wood

Naturally, you’ll need wood to burn in the stove. The method that most wood-burning stove owners use is the “top-down” burn. For this, you’ll need three sizes of wood.

  • 3-4 split logs
  • 6-8 pieces of medium-sized kindling
  • 10-12 pieces of small-sized kindling


This is a popular fire starter because it’s inexpensive, easy to use, and a way to recycle. Use one or two pieces of newspaper rolled together and then tied in a knot. This will keep it from rolling around. 

Tucker starts a fire while camping.

Lighter or Matches

This will depend on the stove that you have and what works with it. Some will require matches, others need to be lit with a lighter. If your wood-burning stove can use either one, then it’s a matter of what you’re most comfortable using. 

How to Light the Fire to Produce Heat

A solid foundation is key for a fire that burns efficiently. Once you’ve gathered the necessary items, you’re ready to build your fire inside the stove.

Wood heat is a great way to keep warm during Pacific Northwest winters.

Stack the Wood

Using the “top-down” method that we mentioned, lay the split logs on the floor of the stove first, flat side down. Next, stack the medium-sized kindling on top of the split logs. Top the kindling with the smaller sized sticks. 

Light the Fire

Lay the piece of knotted newspaper on top of the pile of wood and kindling. Again, the knot is important in order to prevent the newspaper from rolling while it’s burning. Light the newspaper using your chosen tool, whether it’s a lighter or matches. The fire will begin to burn at the newspaper, working its way down. 

Efficiently Maintaining a Fire for Heat

If your main goal is to heat your house during the cold months of the year, you’ll want to make sure that the fire is efficiently burning, and maximizing the heat output. 

Location, Location, Location

When deciding where your wood-burning stove should be built, make sure to choose a spot that’s in an area surrounded by material that’s fireproof, of course, but also dense enough to absorb heat. This will also allow the heat to be released, making the heating pattern work better for you. 

Burning Cycle

Opening the stove doors every hour is not an efficient tactic since it lets heat and energy escape. Instead, when it’s time to add more logs, add two or three at a time. 

Watch for Smoke

Once the fire has been burning, you’ll want to keep an eye out for smoke. Visible smoke signals that there is energy being wasted and is a sign that the wood is done burning and it’s time to add more.

Look for Flames

A bright fire with a flame is a sign that the fire is still burning enough to produce heat. Once the flame fizzles out, then it’s just the smoke that’s being burned, and we’re back to wasting the heat. 

Apollo roasting a marshmallow in the firepit.

Bonuses of Heating Your Home with Wood

  • Using wood to heat the home will save money on bills
  • Wood burning stoves produce enough heat to be used for cooking anything from pizza to burgers
  • You can have a special attachment installed, so your stove can double as a hot water heater, meaning you can simplify your home with fewer appliances.
  • The heat from a wood-burning stove comes from a renewable resource and is one way that we can help with environmental conservation. 
  • Wood burning stoves are very reliable, with very few moving parts that can malfunction. 
  • Not only is a wood-burning stove functional as a way to heat your home, but it’s also a great rustic design touch. 
  • If you live in an area where fallen trees or other excess wood is a problem, a stove for burning this is a great solution. 
  • Gathering wood and sitting around the stove is a great physical activity that the whole family can enjoy together. 

Wood burning stoves are an overall great addition to any household that’s looking to make an eco-friendly change in their heating mechanism. Central heating and other sources have become mainstream for their ease and convenience, but using wood to heat your home can be an attractive and sustainable alternative. 

About the Author

Peter Gray is a writer, retired plumber, and DIY aficionado. Peter is passionate about green energy and water conservation. Peter enjoys spending his time teaching others how they can go low-flow, fix leaks and reduce their environmental footprint, all while saving money.


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