We’ve all probably wondered “How much firewood do I need?” That question is relevant whether you cut your own firewood or have it delivered.
You need to know roughly how much will be necessary to get you through the winter. Preferably with a bit left over.
If wood heat is your only source of energy for cooking, home heating and domestic hot water, getting the answer right is imperative. It might not be practicable to go out in the winter and cut more.
One way to arrive at an answer is to ask the previous owner about the amount of wood necessary to run the wood appliances.
Another approach is to inquire with the stove dealer as to the amount of wood that your appliances burn, then add at least 50% to that estimate.
The way I did it to start with was to imagine how many times I needed to load each stove throughout the day, how much wood it takes per load, and how many days I thought were necessary to burn the stove.
I equated this to roughly a weekly pile of wood and then started imagining how many of these weekly piles would I need.
That’s how I did it one year, and I kept track of how many dump truck loads it took to make those stacks of wood.
The answer was three. Since I ran short one winter by a little bit, I bumped up my estimate to four dump truck loads.
That’s to run just one small stove full time.
It’s okay to be conservative on your estimate. It’s one way to play it safe. If your answer to “how much firewood do I need” winds up being more than you really need, it’s like asking “how much money do I need” and then being disappointed because you went out and earned too much for the year.
It’s no big deal.
Extra wood will keep very well until the following year, especially if your firewood storage is in an area that doesn’t need to be used for other purposes during the spring, summer and fall.
So, my approach to answering “how much firewood do I need” is to base it on experience. We can successfully keep the house “not cold” with one small wood stove insert.
We can keep it “warm” by running both wood stove inserts, sometimes together and sometimes in a tag team operation.
If I’m going to run both inserts, I better have six dump truck loads of wood.
I know you’re asking how many cords that is. Much of it depends on the type of wood, but four single-axle dump truck loads is about three full cords of wood, so six dump truck loads ought to be about four and one half full cords of firewood.
The photo below shows about half of what I’ll eventually have piled up for the winter.
Keep in mind that attic insulation and the amount of wind you have will influence that number. Also, how you extract and distribute the heat from the stoves will also influence that number.
A wood stove heat exchanger will make better use of the heat you generate in the stove instead of sending so much of it up the flue.