When my husband and I were house hunting, traipsing all over the Ohio countryside for the perfect little house, he was excited about the prospect of heating our home with wood. For a man who grew up in the woods, the smell of burning ash and the warm glow of the fire was too hard to pass up.
When we found our darling little aquamarine-colored house, we were excited to find that it had a wood-burning stove in the cellar. On a chunk of land rich with maple trees, and in a part of the country where winters were long and dark, we were excited to warm up to the fire.
As it turns out, heating our home with wood was just as lovely as we expected, but it did come with some unique challenges.
Benefits of heating your home with a wood-burning stove
First, let’s start with some benefits.
If you are a steward to the land and take care of your forest, you’ll enjoy many years of free wood for heating your house.
A couple years ago, three of our mature trees came down in a mid-March wind storm, and we came home to find that one of our 80-foot trees had merely brushed our house. We were in shock, to say the least, and the felled trees resulted in many hours of splitting, chain-sawing, and wheel-barrowing. The good news is we’re going to have wood to heat our house for years. “That’s what’s so great about heating your home with wood,” says my father-in-law, “From splitting and hauling the wood, to burning it in the stove, it heats you twice.”
Needless to say, this is way cheaper than heating your home with electric, gas, or propane, and it’s a more comfortable burn. Instead of the “wet heat” of gas and propane, wood-burning fires are nice and dry, and not for nothing, it makes the house smell amazing.
Potential issues with wood burning
While heating your home with a wood-burning stove smells amazing, and it’s sure to keep you extra warm, it does come with its challenges.
First of all, heating with wood is a surefire way to dry out your house, which also means it’ll dry out your hair and skin if you let it. We solved this problem by sleeping with a humidifier every night. But what if you have instruments, house plants, and other items in the home that don’t appreciate being dried out? You might want to figure out a humidifying system or live with dried out succulents and pianos.
Heating your home with fire is also not ideal if you’re away at work during the day. In cold winter months, your pipes can freeze if there’s no one to tend to the fire during the day. And, in this day and age, who has time?
That’s why we have propane as a back-up heat source. Our pipes don’t burst, and we don’t have to nurse the fire 24/7.
And finally, wood-burning stoves can be dangerous if you don’t know what you’re doing. Having a sound working knowledge of how to keep a safe burn, how to avoid creosote, and how to not overpower your stove will be essential in ensuring a safe burn. We’ve passed by neighbors who burn their fire too cool and end up with smoke all through their house, causing a fire hazard. Avoid this by burning at hot temperatures!
All in all, heating your home with wood is a fantastic way to connect with the land around you. It makes your home smell earthy and woody, and it’ll keep you so warm that you’ll feel comfortable walking around in nothing but a silk kimono. Not a bad way to spend a winter!