How to Maximize Your Wood Stove’s Efficiency

If you use a wood burning stove to heat your home or sauna, it goes without saying that you want that stove to perform as efficiently as possible. So how do you know if your wood burning stove can produce heat efficiently? There are a few main points to consider when determining how efficient your stove is.

Stove vs. Space Proportions

Whether your stove is brand new, EPA certified, or an older model that came with a home you’ve purchased; size matters. It won’t make a difference how new your stove is if you’re trying to heat a large house with multiple rooms using a small stove. Skip the shivering and follow this simple guide to ensure you’re matching the area you want to heat with the right-sized stove for the job.

Small: A small stove is meant for a small space, or anywhere from 600-1000 square feet. Think seasonal cottages and single-room cabins. Small stoves are also perfect for zoned heating of a large room (like a family or living room).
Medium: A medium-sized stove will generally heat 800-2000 square feet. If you need a heat source for a small house, a well-insulated energy efficient house, or a winter cottage, a medium sized stove is your answer.
Large: Large stoves are great for heating spaces that have 800-3000 feet of living space. Large open floor plan houses or older houses located in colder climates will need a large wood stove to keep them toasty through the winter months.

Once you’ve picked the perfect sized stove, you’re on the right track. The next thing to consider is the location of it in your home. Proper placement of your stove will ensure you reach the desired level of heat in your home.

Wood Stove Efficiency

Location Matters

When determining how efficient your stove’s heat output will be for a particular location, it might be helpful to ask the following questions:

-  Do you plan to heat a room or the entire building? If you intend to heat the whole building, is the stove centrally located and the floor plan open to allow for efficient heat distribution?

-  If you plan to heat just one room, how large is that room? If the room is small, the stove might be too efficient and result in overheating the room.

-  How far is the stove from the chimney? If more than seven feet of stove pipe separate the stove from the chimney and if the pipe has more than two elbows, the likelihood of creosote buildup and instability increases dramatically.

Once you’ve confirmed that the location and size of your stove will ensure maximum heat output, there’s one more factor to consider. When it comes to the wood you use to fuel your stove; choose quality over quantity for maximizing heat output.

Quality Over Quantity

Just as stoves have evolved over the years, so has their efficiency. Stoves built before 1988 weren’t required to have EPA certification requirements applied to them, and are therefore not as efficient. If your stove is an antique, it stands to reason that you can’t expect the same efficiency as you would from a new stove. Regardless of how old your stove is though - all stoves produce heat more efficiently if you fuel them properly.

So what constitutes good quality firewood? Wood with a high moisture content will cause excessive creosote buildup in your stove pipe. At the very minimum, the fuel you’re using should be seasoned for twelve months to reach the proper moisture content in the wood.

Seasoned firewood is a good option, but the ideal and highest-quality fuel you can get is kiln-dried firewood. Not only is the moisture content in the wood incredibly low at 10-15%, but the heat from the kiln kills all bugs, mold, and diseases that you can find on green and seasoned wood. Kiln dried firewood produces 35% more heat than seasoned firewood, making it the highest quality option. 

Read more about kiln-dried firewood

Efficient Wood Stove

If you’d like to make sure your wood burning stove is working as efficiently as possible, remember the three main factors you need to consider: size, location, and fuel. If you follow our recommendations, you’ll not only be able to enjoy that lovely radiating warmth youget from a wood burning stove but can also enjoy the peace of mind knowing that your wood burning stove is working efficiently as possible!