This is a great video by the state of Washington showing tips and tricks of how to get the most efficiency out of your wood burning stove. If you have any other suggestions, please leave them in the comments section below.
If you like to read instead, here’s the written form of what was said in the video:
Whether you’re a new wood stove owner or have had one for sometime, you might be surprised to learn that you may be able to operate your stove more efficiently, get more heat and save money by doing so.
Using your stove properly can reduce the amount of wood you use by up to a third while giving you as much or more heat, another benefit is cleaner air for you and your neighbors to breathe both inside and out, smoke coming from your chimney means your stove is not operating efficiently, smoke is unburned fuel and a waste of your cash. With a little practice and care you can easily produce a nice hot fire with little or no smoke, this applies to both older uncertified stoves and newer high technology EPA certified stoves.
The newer certified wood stoves are highly engineered high performing appliances, but even they can be operated improperly and inefficiently. Certified wood stoves are unique because of how they are constructed, they use technology that creates an optimum burning environment and actually re-burns the smoke to reduce it which also produces more heat. When it is properly used you should see no smoke coming from the chimney of a certified stove.
Here are six steps to a fire that gives plenty of heat while saving your hard earned money.
First, select your fuel. It is extremely important to use the right fuel, make sure your wood is very dry and well seasoned, using green wood or wood that has not been properly dried significantly reduces the heat output of your stove and increases creosote build up in your chimney. Firewood should be stacked for drying for at least six months and protected from fall and winter rains, use a moisture meter available at most stores to tell if your wood is ready to burn, it should have 20% moisture or less or just knock on it; if it sounds hollow it’s probably seasoned.
Second, start your fire right. Small hot fires are best its important to use smaller pieces of seasoned firewood when starting your fire so it will become a good hot fire quickly, its best to keep the stove door slightly opened for about a minute to help the fire get burning strongly before latching it.
Third, get your stove hot. The key is to get the stove hot enough so it will perform as designed and re-burn the smoke. Start with a small hot fire, add larger pieces of wood one at a time as needed instead of loading your stove with several large pieces at once.
Fourth, maintain the fire. For uncertified wood stoves be sure not to close the damper or air control too much, that makes the fire smolder and smoke. Do not overload any stove which also causes smoldering, this creates too much smoke, produces less heat, builds up creosote in your chimney, and wastes your fuel and money.
Fifth, keep the doors closed. Unless you are adding more wood, keep the doors closed so the stove will operate as designed, when the doors are opened you are losing heat up the chimney.
And one final thing, never burn garbage. Don’t burn junk mail, newspapers or any other garbage in a wood stove. In most areas burning garbage is illegal. A small amount of paper could be used to start the fire but other than that the only items to be burnt in a wood stove are wood fire starters and manufactured fire logs approved for use in wood stoves.
After you have take these steps you can check how you’re doing by looking for smoke from your chimney, if you are burning properly you shouldn’t see smoke, if you do you’ll need to review these steps again, proper fuel and a hot fire are the most common solutions. Here are a few additional points to consider.
Keep your chimney clean and clear by using a certified chimney sweep annually, creosote caused by burning can build up in your chimney and create a safety hazard, have your stove serviced yearly by a wood heat professional, preferably one certified by the national fire place institute to make sure your stove and chimney are in good shape. Clear out the ash regularly, but only after the ashes cool completely, leave about an inch of ash in the bottom of the stove for optimum performance, dispose of the rest in a metal container.
If you have questions or want to learn more about the most efficient, clean and cost effective operation of your stove, visit a local specialty Hearth retailer.