Wood stoves are often the main draw in a room, especially where family gatherings are held. But a functional wood stove can also be a critical component for home heating.
Optimizing the efficiency of your wood-burning appliance allows you to keep your heating costs as low as possible, without sacrificing your comfort during the cold fall and winter months.
Getting the most heat from your wood stove is a combination of proper combustion techniques and the use of modern technology and the design of today’s wood stoves. Do you want to know how to optimize the performance of your wood stove? Here are our tips for improving your wood stove for a comfortable winter.
Tips for improving the performance of your wood stove:
1. Dry wood to optimize the heat of a wood stove
Choose only dry wood for combustion. Freshly cut or “green” wood contains a high percentage of water. This results in poor combustion and cooler temperatures in your wood stove.
Wood that has been left to dry for at least a year loses a significant portion of its water and burns more efficiently and at higher temperatures.
Keep your wood away from water and humidity. Instead of a single large pile of firewood, opt for several small piles so that the air can keep the wood dry.
Orient your wood stacks so that they receive sunlight. While tarps protect your wood from the rain, they are often blown away by wind and torn tarps are not effective.
A simple woodshed with an angled roof that drains rainwater away from your wood is the best protection against moisture.
2. Split your wood for better performance
Split wood dries faster and burns better than logs. Depending on the size of the log, divide the wood into halves or quarters.
Info wood should be easy to hold with one hand and not exceed 6 to 8 inches in width.
3. Which species of wood to choose for better yield?
Opt for energy-efficient hardwood. The thermal efficiency of wood species is measured in BTUs, which determines the amount of heat per cord.
The hardwoods of deciduous trees, including apple trees, evergreen ash, white ash, maples, and oaks, produce one of the greatest amounts of heat energy.
4. For better performance of your wood stove
Build the type of fire that suits your needs. Lightly packed dry wood will burn quickly at high temperatures, which is great for quickly heating a small space.
But if you want to keep a hot temperature for several hours, place the logs close together at the back of the firebox, with the embers in the front for a slower, more even burn.
5. Get a wood stove fan
To optimize the heat of your wood stove, get a fan that extracts hot air from the stove and circulates it throughout the room.
This type of fan can be used with both a wood stove and a pellet stove. It will allow you to adequately heat your entire home.
Most wood stove fans start as soon as you place them on the stove. Their speed is adjusted according to the temperature of it and some even produce their own electricity.
6. How big should the logs be in a wood stove?
A piece of split wood should be no more than 18 inches long, 16 inches being a safer measurement to fit inside a wood stove.
If you are chopping your own firewood, resist the temptation to cut the last few feet into equal lengths to avoid “leftovers”.
Split them no more than 16 inches long and chop the remaining end into several small pieces to use as kindling.
7. Tip for starting an efficient fire in a wood stove
Proper lighting technique is the basis for taking full advantage of what a wood stove can do or give you in terms of heat and energy efficiency.
Here’s how to light a wood stove, in order to optimize the heat that will emerge:
- Open the hatches fully to make sure the fire is getting the air supply it needs to establish properly.
- Choose small to medium-sized dry logs. Always use good quality, low moisture, ready-to-burn wood.
- Place the medium-sized logs in the stove, leaving enough space between them to allow air to circulate.
- Now place a few small logs on top of the larger ones below, crossing them. This will create a fuel cell in your stove, which when lit from top to bottom will create the necessary draft.
- Place a fire starter on top of the stack, then, stack the kindling in a similar fashion, crossing each layer. You will need about 6-8 pieces of kindling for a standard stove, but if your stove has a large firebox you can add a few more layers. Place another fire starter on your pile of kindling.
- To create the best possible conditions for starting a fire, light the fire starter above the kindling. Leave the stove door slightly ajar to allow enough air to reach the flames.
- Once the kindling has started to set, close the door. The air controls on your stove should be fully open to allow air to circulate and to aid combustion as much as possible.
- Wait for the logs to ignite and once they are well lit, set your stove’s air controls to normal operation.