Heating your home with wood does not have to be expensive or overly labor intensive. In fact, we’ve found that wood heat is the best way to save money and efficiently heat our home throughout a long cold winter. Compared to gas or electric heat, wood heat keeps us warmer and is more cost effective.
We estimate that if we were to heat our house to 70 degrees during the day with just electric heat, our power bill would be at least $250 (and this is in an area with some of the lowest electric rates in the country!) Compare that to our actual cost of about $60 a month to heat our house with our wood stove to 70 degrees during the day. This cost would probably be even lower if we hadn’t been moving and would’ve had the time to go harvest our own firewood this year rather than buying a bulk load.
Nothing beats staying warm and cozy inside by our wood stove on a bitterly cold Montana winter day. We’ve been living in wood heated homes for years and have learned a few ways to save money on heating our home with wood.
Here are seven tips that have worked for us to save money on heating our home with wood:
1. Use an efficient wood stove: Upgrade your wood stove to an energy efficient wood burning stove. All of the local dealers who carry wood stoves in our area now carry several options for EPA approved wood stoves. These wood stoves are designed to burn more efficiently and actually require less wood to heat your home. They also put out a much smaller particulate in the air. The first year we upgraded to a more efficient wood stove (this is the one we have), we were amazed at how much less wood we had to use to keep our home toasty and warm. You also may be able to qualify for a tax credit for upgrading which helps offset the cost.
2. Harvest your own firewood: For the cost of a $10 permit plus truck and chainsaw fuel you can harvest all the firewood you need on the public lands in our area. This was our primary way of getting firewood prior to becoming parents two years ago. I used to look forward to our “firewooding” adventures up in the mountains looking for dead standing trees to harvest. I have my own Stihl chainsaw and loved a hard days work to cut down a tree and buck firewood.
3. Scavenge: When driving in the woods, look for areas where others have cut down firewood. Scan the area for dropped pieces or wood left behind because they ran out of room in the truck. You would be amazed at how easy it is to gather wood this way. The best part? Someone else had to do most of the tough work already of cutting down the tree and cutting it in chunks.
4. Craigslist: Watch the local Craigslist ads for free firewood. Maybe someone is moving or no longer heats with wood and has a pile to give away to anyone willing to haul it. Last year we got a full trailer load of seasoned firewood (almost two cords) for free on Craigslist. It was cut in 12 foot lengths so we just had to bring it home, cut smaller lengths and split it.
5. Buy in bulk: Buy a bulk load of firewood from a local logger in the off season if you have the room to store it. Due to our move this summer/fall we didn’t have time to go up in the mountains to harvest any firewood so this is what we chose to do this year. My husband found a local logger selling a logging truck load of firewood at a low bulk rate on Craigslist. We ended up splitting the wood and cost with a friend. We figured out the cost per cord was about half the cost of the going rate for a cord of firewood during the prime season. We now have a big old stack of logs on the edge of our property we are slowly cutting, splitting and stacking in the barn.
6. Find local scrap wood: Connect with carpenters and wood workers in your community to have them give you their scrap wood to use for burning. A lot of wood working businesses have “free” scrap piles available. We know of one that we stop by anytime we’re in that area of town and load up on great hardwood kindling and boards.
7. Keep a chainsaw in your truck: We’ve learned to keep a chainsaw in the truck so when we’re out in the woods on other adventures we can harvest a tree if we happen to spot a good one. Whether we’re going out camping, berry picking or just for a drive in the mountains it pays to have the chainsaw along!
Using these tips, we’ve been able to save money heating our house with wood for a number of years. We’re able to keep our house nice and toasty warm for a fraction of the cost if we were heating with electric.
If you already heat your house with wood or are planning to install a wood stove, be sure to check out our post with tips on how to prevent a chimney fire!
If you heat with wood, do you have any tips to share?