I don’t claim to be a wood furnace expert, but I have noticed a few things that have helped me to save time, money, and wood. Here are a few wood furnace tips: maybe you’ll find a few of them useful.
Tip 1: Establish A Properly Sized Fire
Establishing a properly sized fire, scaled to the outside temperature, is important. The colder it is, the more rapidly the heat will be taken from your furnace. As such, in the depths of winter, your fire you have will probably be larger than the one you have during the spring and fall seasons. Conversely, a large fire during the spring or fall is probably not called for.
Tip 2: Learn To Control The Rate of Burn
You can control the rate of burn, to a small extent, by placing the wood “bark first” onto the fire. The fire will take longer to work into the wood, thus extending burn time. If you don’t need the immediate heat, this is beneficial. For example, if you have a large bed of coals, you need to decide: do I want the fire to roar, or do I want a slower burn. If you want it to roar, throw your wood in bark side up. If you want a slower burn, place it bark side down. Snowy wood can be used to similar effect. No need to have your fire roaring if you don’t need it to be.
Tip 3: Green Wood Can Be Useful
You can have slower burning, less intense fires by burning green/wetter wood. I did not start burning our proper, seasoned firewood until December. Prior to that, I used random trees that had been cut down that year. They were not seasoned nor split, and tended to be on the smaller side. Of course, you need a certain amount of seasoned wood to get things going. Once you have established a good fire, you can burn the wet stuff.
Tip 4: Plan Better For Overnight Burning
When using wet wood, if you’re not using the whole firebox, throw a few logs to the back, where they will not burn as part of the main fire. This will dry them out, and you can then rake them forward later, for slightly better burning. This technique can also be handy to try and maintain embers for those overnights when you’re burning a medium sized fire but don’t want to start a fire from scratch in the morning. If you do it right, you’ll open your firebox to one log, charred and smoldering.. easily re-kindled into a roaring blaze. It’s faster and easier than starting a fire from scratch (and you don’t have to burn tinder or much kindling, which is a plus.)
Tip 5: Conserve Wood
You don’t need to keep the fire going permanently, during shoulder seasons. One good fire per day is often enough to put enough heat into the house. Until the temperatures outside justify it, save your wood. This does not work for those with spouses who are “always cold”. In that case, you’re going to need more wood. There’s no two ways about it!
Tip 6: Thermoelectric Generators (TEG)
Depending on your setup, you may benefit from a TEG (thermoelectric generator.) TEGs allow you to generate electricity or light from the heat your wood stove (or any other heating device), assuming it reaches appropriate temperature. Although it is somewhat cost prohibitive to generate large amounts of electricity with these devices, they can be used affordable at a smaller scale. It would be quite deluxe, for example, to wire up 500 watts of TEGs, powered by your wood stove, to charge your solar batteries during the winter!
Tip 7: Birch Bark
Birch bark makes awesome fire starter. Any birch species that produces papery bark will do. The pine resin inside the bark produces a flame that burns strong.
Good luck in your wood burning adventures.