Getting the most heat out of your wood-burning stove or fireplace insert involves more than simply stoking the fire. To enjoy the full extent of heating your home with wood, follow these recommendations from our team of wood stove experts.
How to Get More Heat From Your Wood
#1: Use Seasoned, Dry Wood
To ensure optimal efficiency, it is crucial to fuel your fire with dry, seasoned wood. Wood that has not had the time to dry out properly, also referred to as “green wood,” not only produces an inefficient burn, it causes a number of problems such as producing plumes of smoke, deteriorating the longevity of your stove and emitting unhealthy fumes into the atmosphere.
Wood is ready to burn when it has a moisture content of 20% or lower. You can tell your firewood is ready for your wood stove by using a moisture meter, or following a number of tests such as color, sound and smack tests. To learn more about ensuring your wood is ready to burn, read this article.
#2: Use High-Quality Wood
Different wood species offer various added benefits or drawbacks. Besides ensuring the wood is dry and seasoned, you will want to invest in wood that is readily available to you and will last the entire season.
To explore the multiple differences between wood species, read this article.
#3: Properly Maintain Your Stove
Preserve the proper function and longevity of your wood stove by following the necessary maintenance. If your stove is not well-cared for, it will become inefficient and not produce the heat you need for your space. By sticking to our recommended steps and methods, you can safely and efficiently heat your home for years to come.
- Remove ashes
- Inspect firebrick
- Test the stove door and gasket
- Check the door handle
- Inspect the glass
- Keep your chimney clear
- Inspect the baffle and blanket
- Clean the vacuum fan
- Inspect the chimney
- Check smoke detectors
#4: Run the Right-Sized Unit
Choosing the right-sized unit for your space comes down to multiple variables: square footage, home insulation, climate and home layout. If a stove is too big for the space, you’ll often find yourself building a smaller fire than what your stove is equipped for or running the stove on low continuously. Ideally, you should be running your stove on a medium to medium-high setting throughout the day, and only turning your wood stove to the low setting while sleeping.
Of all the factors that go into determining the size stove needed to heat your space, the square footage of the space is the most crucial. You’ll want to start by calculating the number of BTUs needed to effectively warm the area you wish to heat. For every square foot of space, you will need approximately 20 BTUs (British thermal units — the measurement of heat output).
As an example, if you are planning to heat an area that is 2,500 square feet, you’d want to consider a stove that is about 50,000 BTUs. For homes in colder climates, you may want to upsize a bit due to generally colder winters and, likewise, downsize slightly for southern climates. In addition to square footage, you should also consider the layout of the space (multiple levels or compartmentalized rooms make heating more challenging) as well as the home’s age, insulation and energy efficiency. Drafty windows and doors will necessitate more heat than a tightly constructed home.
#5: Add Zone Heating for More Efficiency
Zone heating is a heating method that focuses on centralizing the heat in areas of the home where you spend the most time, saving both on fuel and heating costs. Instead of heating an entire house, zone heating lowers the thermostat in areas such as attics, spare rooms or other under-utilized spaces. In tandem with zone heating, many homeowners invest in additional insulation for areas of their home prone to heat loss. This way, you keep the heat you pay for inside your home, and the cold air outside your home.
For more information on zone heating and home efficiency, visit our guide.
#6: Invest in a Fuel-Efficient Wood Stove
Have you enjoyed your current wood stove for years and recently noticed the heat is not as strong as it once was? After 10 to 20 years, you may notice your wood stove displays the tell-tale signs it’s ready to be replaced: steel warping, shortened burn times and sluggish performance.
That’s where Forge & Flame comes in. Our line of EPA-certified stoves from Quadra-Fire and Vermont Castings boasts efficient, warming heat complete with key technologies to extract the most heat from your wood with every burn.
Quadra-Fire's technologies include:
- Quadra-Fire's Four Point Burn System: burns and re-burns wood, gases and fumes four times. This technology keeps your fire going longer (nice for overnight burns) and produces steady, rolling flames with less wood.
- Automatic Combustions Control (ACC): makes start-up easy and gives you control to "set it and forget it." Load your wood, light your fire and walk away.
Vermont Castings' technologies include:
- C3 Technology: From startup to last coals, C3 technology manages all the give-and-take for you, automatically adjusting and delivering just the right amount of air to optimize efficiency and heat output. The result – the most consistent, easiest burn you will experience.
- Thermostatically Controlled Combustion: Our unique, built-in thermostat requires no electricity and automatically adjusts the required air for combustion. Just set the stove for the heat output you want and let the thermostat do the rest. The result—longer, more even heat.
By implementing these recommendations, you will be well on your way to capitalizing on your wood heat. If you are ready to replace your stove, explore Forge & Flame's line of wood stoves, many of which qualify for the federal biomass tax credit. Browse our complete selection online or by visiting a local Vermont Castings or Quadra-Fire dealer near you.