As you know by now, my husband and I are nuts about our wood stove. We love the look, feel, and savings it brings our home. For more on that check out the first two posts in our 3-part series:
- Wood-burning stoves: A frugal and efficient way to heat your home
- The cost and savings of installing a high-efficiency wood stove
One small detail with heating your house with a wood stove is that you need… wood. And not just any wood. It should be seasoned, which means it should be cut, split, stacked, and covered until the water content is less than 20%. For softer woods, like pine, this typically takes 6 months to 1 year. For hard woods, like oak, it’ll take 1-2 years.
The wait is worth it. Dry wood = a clean burn. Burning unseasoned (green) wood results in less heat and more creosote build-up in your chimney, which increases the odds of a chimney fire. We store our wood in a 6×10′ open shed Ed build from wood and supplies he’d saved from other projects (of course!). Having a full shed with neatly stacked logs makes Ed as happy as a full pantry with neatly organized food makes me. Apparently, we’re just very large squirrels.
Like anything, to keep your savings high you want to keep your costs low. For example, we will save roughly $600 every heating season (keeping our house around 70-degrees) by using our wood stove. Our savings are high because our expenses (wood) are low. As in, we have never spent any money on it. This is mainly due to the fact that my husband attracts free wood like nobody’s business. And cutting and splitting wood is a combo hobby/workout to Ed. He’d rather have an ax than a fishing pole or treadmill. So, while it’s more work it doesn’t necessarily feel like work to him.
Here are our best tips on finding inexpensive (or free!) firewood:
Offer to cut down trees and remove wood for others. I’m talking more small favors than small business. If you are skilled with a chainsaw, you could offer your services in return for the wood. My husband gets calls like this all the time, “Hey, Ed, I have this tree…” Not major tree removal projects, just some overgrown Christmas trees here and some rotten apple trees there. My husband is happy to exchange labor for goods. (Side note: Removing trees of a certain height may require a permit from your city or county. Make sure you look into that before removing trees on your or another person’s property.)
Spread the word that you need wood. For example, my husband works with a guy who advertises tree clean-up services after big wind storms. From this, he gets small trees and big limbs. Again, we’re not talking a big job that is better handled by the pros. This is simple cut down and clean up work that nets some cheap fuel for your wood stove.
Scavenge free wood. Watch Craigslist ads, ask about construction debris, look for free signs on the curb. You know those piles of free pallets? Cut them down to make great kindling or starter wood. That is, if you can pry it away from those hard-core Pinterest users looking to make another piece of wall art.
Cut firewood in designated state & national forests. In many counties, you can cut firewood in forests for a fee of $20 for 2 cords. This is a great deal, especially if you enjoy the great outdoors. Contact the Department of Forestry for more information.
What ideas for finding cheap or free firewood would you add to the list?
Ed loves his pair of Hearth Gloves, like the ones pictured above Amazon. They help protect your forearms when loading wood into a hot stove. I am usually too impulsive and impatient to pull on gloves, and I often have the burns to prove it. I think Ed might be on to something….
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