Wood Stove Heating for Your Home: Tips to Improve Your Heating Efficiency

A fire burns brightly inside a wood stove. Heating efficiency for your whole home can be improved with wood stove heating.

The idea of heating with a wood stove is appealing for several different reasons. Certainly, the icy cold of wintertime brings heating your home to the forefront of your mind, and to the top of your priority list. Whether your motivation is environmental, aesthetic, or cost savings, wood stove heating can improve your heating efficiency and bring warmth to your home in a way traditional furnace heat cannot.

Can I Heat My Home with a Wood Burning Stove?

The question many ask is, “How can wood stove heating work to heat my home?” The answer is zone heating. When you use wood stove heating to heat your home, you are naturally utilizing zone heating, and zone heating simply means heating the room(s) or zone you spend the most time in.

Wood stove heating options are more efficient than most fireplaces. They are powerful heat producers and the heat is focused out into the room, not sucked up an enormous chimney of a traditional open-hearth fireplace. There are styles from rustic to designer models so no matter your taste, there’s a wood stove to fit your needs and décor.

A wood burning stove can keep the common living areas of your home warm and toasty while you cook, eat, clean, work, study, and relax. With remote working and learning becoming more popular, keeping these common areas comfortable during the day with wood stove heating is much more efficient than having to heat your whole home all day long when traditionally you may have turned down the thermostat when you left for the day.

Tips for Wood Stove Heating

For optimal efficiency, make sure that your wood stove is EPA certified. Also, as with any type of fireplace, it is important to keep safety in mind. Even though wood stoves are enclosed, there are wood stove safety tips to keep in mind when using wood stove heating in your home.

Open the Stove Before Use

This may seem obvious since you can’t add wood without opening the stove, but when you open the stove before using it, it helps to equalize the temperature to manage drafts and encourage proper airflow. Cold air in the stove and chimney can lead to puff backs. Fireplaces and stoves may push smoke back into the room instead of appropriately exhausting it out through the flue. When this occurs it is called “back puffing.” Opening the stove prior to use is one way to prevent these downdrafts because it gives time for the temperature in the home enter the stove and chimney pipe, naturally equalizing the overall temperature.

Prime the Flue

The next step before lighting a fire is to prime the flue. This can be accomplished by rolling a newspaper, lighting the end, and holding it in the chimney pipe for a moment to warm the air in the pipe and encourage smoke to rise and flow upward.  If you are still experiencing back puffs or downdrafts, a dirty chimney may be to blame. If you have creosote buildup in your stove pipe, it may be preventing free air flow.

Use Properly Seasoned Wood

Naturally, for wood stove heating you’ll need a lot of fuel for the long, cold, northern winters. That means a lot of firewood. Whether or not you cut your own firewood, one of the most important things about your firewood is how it’s stored.  How you store your firewood can ensure that properly seasoned wood stays dry and also help freshly chopped wood season well. It is important to burn clean wood and to resist the temptation of burning other materials in your wood stove.

Use a Stove Fan

Wood stove heating is efficient, but when you circulate the heat and force it further out into the room, you can enjoy a larger area in your zone heating. Not only that, the heat your wood stove produces is also more evenly distributed rather than concentrated right around the wood stove. Stove fans accomplish heat distribution very effectively.

Keep Your Stove & Flue Clean

Above all you’ll want to be sure to schedule annual inspections/sweeps to improve the functionality of your wood stove heating system and ensure the safety of your wood stove and your home. Professional chimney cleaners will check and clean your wood stove and chimney pipe for early signs of damage. Catching something early means it’s less likely that minor repairs become major, costly ones.

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