The Wood Heating Project

When we first looked at our farmhouse there was no heating and air present. No central HVAC, no natural gas lines or propane equipment, nothing. Fortunately, in the state of South Carolina, mortgage lenders require there to be a permanent source of heat in the home. Some of you may remember the hustling involved in getting our two PTAC units (similar to this one) installed before closing on the house – our real estate agent, sure does…

The mettle of our PTACs was determined pretty quickly once winter set in. For those of you who are unfamiliar with heat pumps, (the method of heating our PTACs use) they work very efficiently until the outside temperature hits 35 degrees. This article provides a decent overview of heat pump technology. In South Carolina, our temperatures in the winter will regularly drop below 35 and stay there. When this happens, our units, like many heat pumps, switch over to electric heat which is absurdly expensive to run.

That winter in 2013, we ended up shutting off the living room, office, and the entire second floor from the rest of the house. We only heated our bedroom, the kitchen, and the bathroom. We eventually got a kerosene heater to supplement, but we still ended up paying right around $300.00 per month to heat 1/3 of our house…

A chilly Bella our first winter in the farmhouse.

After making it through the colder months, we were quite determined that the upcoming winter would NOT be a repeat of The Winter of 2013.

After being told by two different heating and air companies that our only option for central heating involved $15K and ducts running all over the exterior walls of our house, we decided it would be prudent to research wood heating. I came across this article and was pretty well sold. After thorough research (we are quite stereotypical members of Generation Y), we bought ourselves a good quality wood-stove and were able to have it installed right before Christmas last year. It’s been a game changer for us.

We LOVE our wood-stove and have had a great experience using wood to heat our home. The wood-stove heats the entire house so comfortably and provides us with that cozy ambiance that no propane, gas, or electric heater can. Our electric bill in the winter has gone down to $100.00 per month using wood heat.

However, I will say that wood heat is not all roasted marshmallows and cozy toes. There is a lot of work involved in heating with wood as compared to other heating methods. Our routine has involved sourcing firewood (we get ours for free from friends and from Craigslist), we then drive to the site, use a chainsaw to chop the wood into 18″ rounds, load those rounds onto our trailer, drive home, unload the trailer, split the wood, and then stack it for drying.

This is a holzhaus, it’s how we dry our firewood. This round is 10 feet in diameter. We would definately recommend this stacking method. You can read more about it here.

After one full season of heating with wood and another winter approaching, we’ve concluded that despite the work involved, wood heating is something that we’ll be doing for the foreseeable future.

Final Notes:

  • To mitigate some of the work involved in wood heating, you can buy split and dried firewood. The seller will usually deliver it to your house and sometimes, they’ll even stack it for you. Craigslist, word of mouth, and roadside signs are good ways to find firewood for sale.
  • All Firewood is NOT created equal. Different types of wood will burn in different ways. Read more here.
  •  ALWAYS burn dried/seasoned firewood. Burning wet wood can cause a buildup of creosote in your chimney/flue which can cause a chimney fire. Wet wood also burns very inefficiently.
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