Heating with Wood

When comparing heating fuels, wood has a lot of advantages, and there are now more options of equipment to burn it in than ever before. But before we get into the advantages of using wood as a heating fuel, it's important to take a step back and take a look at what is being heated.

The first—and most important—thing any home or business owner should do when considering how to best heat their space is to reduce the building's heat requirements. The less of any kind of fuel used the better: you'll save money on fuel costs; be able to heat the space with a smaller, less expensive unit; and help conserve resources. For valuable information on making your home or business as energy efficient as possible, click on Energy on the menu bar above, go to our Green Building pages, and visit our interactive energy savings house.

If properly used, wood is an excellent fuel source. From raw material to combustion, it’s hard to beat seasoned split wood as a renewable and inexpensive way to heat our homes and businesses (see The Case for Wood). But if done improperly, heating with wood can put our health, our homes, and our environment at risk.

Like any fuel, wood has its drawbacks, primary among them being concerns about emissions. The key to making the most of heating with wood is proper harvesting, storage, burn and equipment maintenance practices, and making sure you’re using the cleanest-burning technology available. In these pages, we’ve compiled the latest information on how to best utilize wood to heat homes and businesses with maximum efficiency and minimum emissions.

This site focuses on wood stoves, in part because they are the most common wood-fired heating appliance in the United States and, more importantly, because they are the appliance most influenced by the user. That means operator practices can greatly influence how cleanly and efficiently they burn wood. In these pages, you'll find information on buying and drying firewood, best burning practices, health and emissions issues of burning wood, wood stove safety, proper wood stove maintenance, woodlot management, and more that will help you make the most of this valuable resource. You can also read about pellet stoves, and compare different wood-burning equipment.

Keep in mind that even though humans have been heating with wood for thousands of years, we continue to make significant improvements in wood-fired heating technology. Over the next couple of years, we expect to see many of these high-tech units hitting the mainstream home heating market. So check back often—especially if you encounter one of our pages still “under construction”—and be sure to visit the links for more resources and further information.

If you would like to bring a workshop on heating with wood to your area, we have made much of the information from this web site available as a narrated PowerPoint presentation. Feel free to take from it what you like, and let us know if you have any comments.

Last updated: December 11th 2012 - 11:10am