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The Ins and Outs of Using Firewood to Heat Your Home

Are you considering heating your home with firewood?  With winter approaching, now is the perfect time to consider how you will heat your home.  Or maybe you are considering just starting a fire every once in a while to enjoy the crackling sound and radiance that a fire gives.  Either way, you may be wondering what the pros and cons are of using firewood to heat your home.  If so, you have come to the right place.  Today, I'll go into detail about the ins and outs of heating your home with firewood and what to expect.  Hopefully, by the end of this article, you will understand more about burning firewood.  Let's get started.

Pro: You Don't Have to Pay Electricity and Gas Bills

Perhaps one of the biggest benefits of heating your home with firewood is that it saves you from having to pay electricity and gas bills.  Although it can be expensive to install a wood stove, once you do you will save so much money.

Con: Firewood Releases Hazardous Gasses

Unfortunately, firewood can release hazardous gasses such as nitrogen oxide and carbon monoxide.  This usually happens when wood does not burn fully.  Carbon monoxide poisoning can be fatal or cause permanent damage to your health.  Although carbon monoxide is odorless, colorless, and tasteless, there are signs that you can look for to see if carbon monoxide is in your home.  First, you will see yellow or orange flames where there should normally be blue ones.  You may also notice sooty stains on the walls around your firewood stove.  A carbon monoxide reader can be helpful too because it will beep when carbon monoxide is detected. In an emergency, make sure you get outside to fresh air as quickly as possible.

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Pro: You Can Still Heat Your Home When the Power Goes Off

If you are relying on electricity to heat your home, it can be scary when the power goes off.  But with a wood fire, you can still heat your home even when there is no electricity.  This is especially important if the temperature is cold when the power happens to go off.  While others may panic, you will know that you and your family will stay warm while the power is out.

Con:  It Takes Up Room To Store Firewood

If you are low on space, it may be difficult for you to find a place to store your firewood.  Firewood can be bulky, and if you are planning on using it as your only source of heat you will need a lot of firewood.  In addition to needing to find a place to store your firewood for the winter, you will also need a place for storing it in the house when you bring it in.  A firewood rack can be helpful because it keeps the wood off the floor.

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Pro: You Can Cook on Most Wood Stoves

Most wood stoves allow you to cook on it.  Not only is this a fun experience, but when the electricity goes out you can still cook food.  You can adjust how quick you want your food to burn by adding wood to the fire.  The more wood that is on the stove, the quicker the food will cook.  Remember to stir the food once in a while, since it could cook unevenly.  The most common way to cook on a wood stove is to cook on the top of the stove.  However, you can also use a firebox to cook meals.  And, similar to a campfire, you also have the option of roasting marshmallows with your wood stove.  How much more fun does it get than that?

Con: Can Be Expensive yo Install A Wood Stove

Installing a wood stove can be expensive.  Although it saves you money from having to pay electric and gas bills, you will have to plan on spending a lot of money installing the wood stove, the stovepipe, and other installation expenses.

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Pro: Firewood Creates a Warm, Cozy Atmosphere

Unlike other heating options, firewood creates a warm and cozy atmosphere.  When it is snowing outside during the winter, you can cuddle down next to your fire and read a book, drink hot chocolate, and get cozy.  It can be very relaxing to listen to the crackling sound of a fire.  Firewood also provides a steady warmth, which increases the amount of comfort you will have.

Con: You'll Need to Dump Out Ashes

Along with burning firewood comes the chore of dumping ashes.  Wood ashes only need to be removed when they begin to smell or get in the way when you build your fire.  To remove, you'll need to shovel up the ashes, place them in a bag, and dump them in the trash.  If your fireplace has an ash dump, push the ashes through the metal plate in the floor of the firebox.  Remember that you won't want to put the ashes in a bag while they are still hot because they will burn the bag and can cause a fire.  It is recommended to wait for at least 72 hours before you bag up the ashes.

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Pro: Using Wood from Forests Improves Forest Health

When trees are cut down from forests, the forests have more room to grow more trees.  Also, dead trees can be a fire hazard in forests.  By burning firewood, whether you haul it home yourself or buy it off someone, you are helping improve the health of the forest.  In addition to making room for more trees to grow, cutting down dead trees with diseases helps prevent the other healthy trees from getting that disease.

Con: You'll Need to Clean the Chimney

Another chore is that you will need to clean the chimney to prevent creosote from building up.  Too much creosote can result in a chimney fire.  What you'll need to do is purchase a chimney brush, as well as a few other brushes and tools for cleaning the firebox.  Before you begin cleaning the chimney, make sure you shut the door of the wood stove so that creosote doesn't land on your furniture and floor.  If you have a fireplace, which does not have a door, you will need to tape a tarp around it while you are cleaning the chimney.

After shutting the door of your wood stove, climb up on your ladder and slide the brush up and down several times in a small section of the flue.  Use a flashlight to check if creosote came off before you move onto the next section.  It is recommended to clean your chimney once a year. However, if you burn green wood (wood that has been recently cut) instead of seasoned wood, you may need to clean your chimney more often.  Before winter comes, you should check your chimney to make sure it is prepared for a season of burning wood.

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Pro: Fireplaces/Wood Stoves Add a Nice Look to Your Home

A fireplace or wood stove can make your house look nicer.  When the fire is on, it adds a nice glow to the room.  Even when the fire is off, it still looks nice, especially if you have tiles on the wall, floor, or even on the fireplace itself.  You don't have to worry about a fireplace ruining the look of your home because it actually makes your home look better.

Con: Firewood Needs Time to Season

It is recommended to wait for your wood to become seasoned before you burn it.  Wood that isn't seasoned, called green wood, does not burn as well as seasoned wood.  It can also cause more creosote, which means you will need to clean your chimney more often.  To help speed up the process of seasoning wood for burning, it can be helpful to chop your wood.  Chopped wood seasons quicker than full logs.

When your stack of wood is chopped, it should take about six months for it to become seasoned.  Full logs will take about a year to season.  How long it takes for wood to become seasoned also depends on the type of wood you are burning.  Softwood should season in six to twelve months, while hardwood such as oak will take one to two years to season.

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Final Thoughts

In summary, burning firewood has both its pros and cons.  The cons of burning firewood are that it can produce carbon monoxide, storing firewood takes up space, it can be expensive to install a wood stove, you'll need to empty out ashes and clean the chimney, and firewood needs time to season.  That said, using firewood to heat your home also has its advantages.  It saves you money from having to pay electric and gas bills, you can still heat your home even when the power goes off, you can cook on your wood stove, firewood creates a warm and cozy atmosphere, using firewood helps improve the health of forests, and fireplaces can add a nice look to your home.  I hope that this article has answered all your questions when it comes to heating your home with firewood.  Remember, even though it has its cons, using firewood to heat your home ensures that you'll be warm all winter, even if the power goes out.

Mariann Foster

I am one of our content writers for Everything Backyard. I am a mother and business owner of Big Horn Mountain Alpacas in Wyoming. I love farm life, cutting my own firewood in the mountains, and participating in local trail run races.

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