A more-efficient wood stove burns less wood, gives off more heat, and pollutes less. An EPA-certified wood stove is efficient because it burns more combustible gases than older-model stoves, but even an old wood stove can burn wood more efficiently if you know what to do.
Use softwoods such as pine and fir to start your fire. They burn fast and hot and will quickly heat up the firebox. Hot stoves reburn the smoke, causing less pollution and providing you with more heat.
The damper controls the draft, or flow of air up the chimney. Closing off the air flow too soon will cause your fire to smoke or go out. Leave the damper open for the first 30 minutes to heat up the chimney and let your fire grow hot.
Add two or three hardwood logs when you have a bed of hot coals. Position the logs so air can move between them. Hardwoods such as oak and cherry produce more heat energy than softwoods do, even when the logs are the same size.
Burn only seasoned firewood. Green or wet firewood doesn’t put out as much heat as wood that’s been properly dried. It takes 6 months to 1 year to season firewood.
Add more wood while the coals are red-hot. Don’t overload your stove. Every time you refuel, leave the damper open for 30 minutes.
Periodically check what’s coming out of your chimney. A properly burning fire should give off a small amount of white steam. If you see smoke, open your damper to let in more air.
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