Fire in a wood stove
Image by Bram Luyten

If properly used, wood is an excellent fuel source.

Heating with Wood

When comparing heating fuels, wood has a lot of advantages, and there are now more equipment options to burn it in than ever before. But before selecting wood as a heating fuel, it's important to take a step back and take a look at what is being heated.

The first—and most important—thing any home or business owner should do when considering how to best heat their space is to reduce the building's heat requirements. This means taking steps to make the space more energy efficient. No matter what kind of fuel you use, needing less will save money; allow you to heat the space with a smaller, less expensive unit; and help conserve resources. Check out our Energy page for valuable information on making your home or business as energy efficient as possible.

What About Wood?

If properly used, wood is an excellent fuel source. From raw material to combustion, it’s hard to beat seasoned split wood as a renewable and inexpensive way to heat our homes and businesses. But if done improperly, heating with wood can put our health, our homes, and our environment at risk.

Like any fuel, wood has its drawbacks, primary among them being concerns about emissions. The key to making the most of heating with wood is proper harvesting, storage, burning, and equipment maintenance practices, and making sure you’re using the cleanest-burning technology available. In these pages, we’ve compiled the latest information on how to best utilize wood to heat homes and businesses with maximum efficiency and minimum emissions.

This site focuses on wood stoves, in part because they are the most common wood-fired heating appliance in the United States and, more importantly, because they are the appliance most influenced by the user. That means operator practices can greatly influence how cleanly and efficiently they burn wood. In these pages, you'll find information on buying and drying firewood, best burning practices, health and emissions issues of burning wood, wood stove safety, proper wood stove maintenance, woodlot management, and more that will help you make the most of this valuable resource.

Keep in mind that even though humans have been heating with wood for thousands of years, we continue to make significant improvements in wood-fired heating technology. Over the next couple of years, we expect to see many of these high-tech units hitting the mainstream home heating market.

Heating with Wood resources developed by Guillermo Metz, Renewable Energy & Green Building Program Coordinator at CCE-Tompkins

Last updated July 26, 2019