How to Heat a Home With a Wood Stove


Rising fuel costs and questions about the sustainability of traditional heating with oil and gas have caused some people to reconsider their options for heating their home. Wood stoves seem to hail back to a simpler, more sustainable era, forming a central feature to the home that provides both heating and a cooking surface. In a study summarized on Science Daily, researchers found that wood stoves could cut fuel costs and reduce environmental impact when used properly. Making the most of your wood stove requires making smart choices about installation and use.

Things You'll Need

  • Wood stove
  • Wood
  • Match or fire starter
  • Kindling
  • Choose a stove. Circulating and radiant heat stoves provide the highest level of efficiency. When considering construction materials, welded steel and cast-iron stoves stand up best to the continuous use needed to heat a home, according to the University of Missouri Extension.

  • Choose a site for the stove. The National Fire Protection Association has set guidelines for the safe spacing of and surface coverings for wood stoves. Check also with your homeowner's insurance company and any local regulatory agencies for additional, more stringent requirements. Locate the stove near an existing chimney or convenient place to build a chimney, preferably near the center of the space you want to heat.

  • Inspect the chimney or have the chimney inspected by a licensed chimney sweep.

  • Open the damper and place paper, kindling and small pieces of wood in the stove and light the kindling.

  • Adjust the draft controls. Many factors affect how the draft controls on your stove will operate, according to the University of Idaho Cooperative Extension. Practice working with your stove will improve your abilities to judge draft-control adjustments.

  • Open the draft controls prior to adding more wood and wait for a few minutes to allow the draft to increase and prevent smoke from escaping when you open the stove. Add wood to the fire and leave the draft controls open until the new wood has caught fire. Then, you can adjust the controls again to control burning.

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  • Photo Credit wood burning stove image by Paula Gent from
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