If you are trying to save money on your utility bills, heating your home with wood is one of the best things you can do. But after getting your wood stove or fireplace, you can find yourself buying a lot of little things like fatwood, firestarters, and cleaners. Burning wood can indeed run up expenses of its own. Here are some ways to start saving money burning wood and keep your cozy lifestyle going.
1. Prepare your wood in the summer.
Obviously cutting and splitting your own is the most economical. If you do that, you will want it split at least a year in advance to let it be fully seasoned. But if cutting your own is not an option, ordering in the summer is a substantial savings in most cases. Sometimes it will be delivered to you immediately in the summer, sometimes it will be delivered in the fall.
2. Split your own kindling.
We use the kindling cracker, which is strangely fun and addicting. Having a good amount of dry kindling makes starting your fire a joy instead of a frustrating exercise. Fatwood and other treated woods are very expensive, and not necessary when you have small enough pieces.
3. Reduce or eliminate commercial firestarters.
Use paper as tinder to start your fire. Newspaper is perfect for this. Crumple up individual pages, using between four and ten. Lay them down as your first layer, add your kindling, and once the fire is going, lay down wood. Save school paper, shoe packaging papers, paper shopping bags, and junk mail without plastic on it to get your fire going. It gets rid of a lot of junk coming into your house and helps you save money by not using firestarters. Paper egg cartons also work very well, if you aren’t saving them for your chickens.
If you find that you are having trouble getting the fire going with just newspaper, you can gather small twigs and add those on top of the paper, and then the kindling on top of the twigs.
4. Clean your fireplace or stove doors with ash.
It is very effective and completely free. I have quick instructions here. There are very expensive glass cleaners on the market that work well and are less messy, but saving money burning wood is easier if you aren’t running up expenses like that.
5. Burn less.
Unless you live in an absolutely frigid climate, you don’t usually have to have a roaring fire all day long. I usually start one when I wake up around 5 AM. Then I let it burn down just to embers throughout the late morning. It is still giving off a lot of heat, and its easy for me to restart it just by adding wood in the afternoon. Saving money burning wood is easier when you aren’t blowing through it rapidly. Obviously the insulation of your house and the amount of sun it gets will have a huge effect on this.
6. Forage what you can.
There are a lot of people giving away wood. Check Craiglist and your local newspaper for “Free wood” advertisements. Especially after storms, it is easy to find people with downed trees who just want someone to take away the wood. It is also easy to gather sticks and small branches on your property for extra kindling. Just remember they will need to season first. Wood will always be your biggest expense, so getting some for free is always handy. Even though we have acres of wood, we will take any give away for free so we can allow our own trees to grow bigger.
7. Use matches.
They usually work out to be cheaper per use over disposable lighters. They are also less ugly. Long matches in a small crock look charming and are a way to add attractive utility to your home.
At least reduce the amount of expensive fireplace accessories you use.
Now having said all this, we do have firestarters, commercial glass cleaner, and plastic lighters in our house that we use from time to time. They are a little easier, to be completely honest, and my husband prefers them. But since saving money burning wood is a priority for me, I don’t use them. I am usually the one building the fire, so those expensive items last much longer since I’m able to do their jobs for free.
Looking for more information on woodburning?
Hearth.com is a forum that I like, with a lot of experts and people asking every question you could imagine.
I hope this has helped you think of ideas for saving money burning wood. Just know that even if you don’t use all of these ideas, you are still saving money by not cranking up your heat, and you are making your home a warm and comfortable place to be.
Have a good winter!