The most effective way to heat a home depends on a number of factors such as the design of your home, whether you have solar power, whether your home is well insulated and your personal preferences.
If you've ever sat in front of a fire during winter, you know how ambient and cosy it can be. But are wood heating systems the best option for your home? Check out our tips and tricks for effective heating with wood below, plus a few other options to consider.
For tailored advice about heating solutions in Mandurah and Perth, don't hesitate to get in touch with the iBreeze team.
What's the best way to heat a home without central heating?
While central heating systems are one of the most effective options, they're also a significant investment that may require renovations to install. If you're not ready to invest in central heating, thankfully there are many other types of heating systems you can rely on to keep you warm, including wood heating!
Keep in mind that different heating methods will be better suited to different spaces. Choosing the ideal heater could help reduce heating costs and improve energy efficiency in your home.
Some of the most popular heating methods include:
Reverse cycle air conditioners – Reverse cycle air conditioning is a type of heat pump which takes cold air from outside, warms it up and then releases it inside your home. This cycle can be reversed in summer to release cold air into your home.
Portable electric heaters – Electric heaters are powered by electricity and are effective at heating small spaces, but they typically have higher energy use than other options. Installing solar power panels can dramatically reduce an electric heater's energy use and your heating bill.
Gas furnaces – Gas furnaces run off natural gas, which burns and heats the air. A small fan is used to push the warm air into the room. Gas heaters are fairly economical, depending on the model.
Wood heaters – Wood heating relies on the heat generated from burning wood to help heat your room. They offer great ambience and maybe one of the cheapest ways to warm your house if the wood is a readily available resource.
Is wood heating an efficient way of heating a home?
Wood heating is more efficient than an open fireplace and can be an economical way of heating a space if you have easy access to wood.
Different types of wood heaters are more efficient than others. Modern heaters tend to have higher efficiency ratings, which mean they require less wood to generate the same amount of heat.
There are two main types of wood heaters: convection heaters and radiant heaters.
Convection wood heaters circulate warm air around the room. As that warm air rises, cold air is drawn towards and warmed up by the heater. Convection heaters have a more gradual but thorough effect and work best in well-insulated homes.
Radiant wood heatersradiate warmth from the surface of the heater, creating more intense and localised heat. Radiant heaters are recommended for homes with high ceilings or poor insulation as the heat is more direct.
If you're not sure if wood heating is right for you, speaking with an expert from iBreeze can help you figure out if wood heating would be a smart move for your home.
Cost-effective – In many rural areas, firewood is the most economical choice for home heating as it is abundant and readily available.
Beneficial for the economy – The wood heating industry provides thousands of jobs, and many of these jobs are in areas of higher unemployment.
Ambient – Few other heating options compare with the ambience and luxury that a fire heater offers. They are perfect for creating a cosy atmosphere.
Affordable – Wood heaters have lower upfront costs compared to many other heating options, especially central heating systems.
How can I heat my home more efficiently with wood?
There are a number of things you can do to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of a wood heater. Follow the tips below for better results:
Only Burn Wood
It’s essential to avoid burning materials, such as glossy magazine paper, plastics, plywood, particleboard, synthetic fabrics, foil, diapers and painted or laminated wood, in your wood heater. These materials release toxic fumes when burned which are dangerous to inhale and bad for the environment.
Only Burn Seasoned Firewood
Any firewood that you burn should be well seasoned to get a cleaner and more efficient burn. Seasoning firewood takes at least a year, and this type of wood can be easily identified by cracks in the end of the wood pieces.
If you hit two pieces of seasoned firewood together, you can hear a distinct sharp cracking noise compared to a duller thud that you can hear from regular unseasoned wood.
Split the Firewood
The wood dries during seasoning from the outer surface first and then inwards to the core. So, if you don’t split your firewood, it will take longer to dry, and it could take a year to become seasoned.
Splitting the firewood will expose more surface area and speed up the drying process significantly. If the firewood is stacked very loosely, this will allow the air to circulate in and around the wood, and this will also speed up drying and seasoning.
Only Have Just Enough Firewood Indoors
Some people bring large quantities of firewood into their homes in order to pre-dry it for burning. This is not very useful if the wood is not already seasoned, it won’t burn well anyway and this is counterproductive. In fact, having a lot of firewood in your home could even release a great deal of humidity into your indoor air.
It’s a better idea to bring in a day's worth of firewood at a time. Tap the wood to get rid of any spider and place it into a carrying box or sling to carry it from your woodshed.
Always Store Firewood Outside
The firewood should be cut, split and stacked in a sheltered woodshed out of the elements. As mentioned above, air circulation is essential, so stack loose and keep the bottom of the stack off the ground.
If you’re burning wood pellets or designer logs for ambience, keep them dry, and you can always use a tarpaulin to keep out any excess moisture if necessary.
The most cost-effective way to heat a home with wood
Using a wood heater is simple and user friendly. For the best results, follow the tips below for effective heating with wood.
1) Start the fire well
When you start your wood heater, use some kindling wood, firelighters, and even paper to get the fire going. Then larger wood pieces can be added once you have an established hotbed of coals.
The air controls can be left open for up to 30 minutes to ensure that there is enough oxygen to get the fire going. There may be some smoke from the flue at the beginning, but this should dissipate after 10 or 15 minutes.
2) Add fuel to the fire
Most modern wood heaters can burn far better with 3 or 4 logs in place rather than just 1 or 2. The logs should be no bigger than 40 cm long and 4kg heavy for the best results.
If the heater doesn’t have a grate, it will perform better if there is a layer of ash on the firebox base and this only needs to be cleaned occasionally. If you do clean out the ash, leave at least a 10mm thick layer behind.
When you add fuel, open the air controls for 20 minutes to get the wood-burning correctly and then you can keep the fire burning steadily. To achieve a complete burn, you need adequate airflow and a high enough temperature to get the fuel and flames glowing brightly.
If the wood is dark or smoky as it burns this is an incomplete burn due to an insufficient intake of air. Accelerants such as oil or petrol should not be used to light the fire because this could result in an explosion.
3) Effective overnight burning
If you want to burn fuel overnight, load up the wood heater around half an hour before you retire. Turn the air supply down to a minimum when the wood has been charred. This should take around 15-20 minutes, and it’s necessary to avoid any creosote issues.
Most modern wood heaters will burn for 7-8 hours with no problems if you fill the heater with fuel and turn it to the slow burn setting immediately. Slow-burning for long periods will produce more creosote than burning or a medium or high setting.
Using a wood heater for prolonged periods will take some getting used to before you get a good feel for it. If your home is well insulated, you may not need to burn overnight unless it’s exceptionally cold.
Is wood heating bad for the environment?
Burning wood produces carbon and particulate matter into the air. It is important that wood heaters meet Australian Standards. Modern wood heaters are known to deliver lower greenhouse emissions compared to heating options that rely on burning fossil fuels.
In 2014, the NSW Department of Planning and Environment’s Building Sustainability Index or BASIX was revised to show a lower greenhouse gas emission rating for wood heating.
This improved BASIX system rating came after extensive research carried out by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO).
They discovered that firewood produces less greenhouse gas than many other available domestic heating options. As wood is biomass and it’s a natural part of the carbon cycle, it’s considered to be a renewable energy source.
The Australian Home Heating Association is promoting the use of wood heaters that meet Australian low emission standards for home heating. It’s recommended that consumers only use firewood from managed forests that are sustainable.
These plantations offer other environmental benefits, such as erosion control, wildlife habitation, salinisation reduction, and wastewater treatment.
Firewood plantations also offer employment and investment opportunities for local farmers and residents.
Get an obligation-free quote for wood heating in Mandurah
If you're looking for wood heating in Mandurah, iBreeze is here to help. Get in touch with our friendly team today for a free, no-obligation quote and expert advice you can trust. We look forward to hearing from you.