monitoring how much wood you go through

DetroitReds

New Member
Nov 16, 2018
24
Detroit, MI
Perhaps this is better posted in the wood stove forum, but here goes:
My first year heating with new stove (Hearthstone Heritage). I have 2 face cords (do I need to write "face" to clarify every time, or is it assumed?) ready, and of course always looking to procure more. I haven't the foggiest idea how much we'll be going through this season. We intend to use it as much as possible, given that at least one parent is home with the kids 7 days/week. My assumption is we'll keep it going close to 24/7 come mid-November, with some smaller fires until then and after mid-March (?).

I'm thinking about how to monitor our wood use - something like a fire log (pun intended). Each time I tend to fire, noting the outdoor temp, indoor temp, #/size/species of firewood added, any other pertinent information...that I could use to track our inputs and plan for future seasons. I know so much comes from experience, but wondering if anyone use anything more qualitative than just watching their wood piles? It would be cool to use some sort of template that exists already.
 

Sawset

Minister of Fire
Feb 14, 2015
1,069
Palmyra, WI
I think you'll find average wood use, 24/7, for an average 3bedroom home, average insulation and air sealing, average midwest climate:
About 3.5-5 cord / year
Cord = 4x4x8
Higher end if it's poorly sealed, larger home, colder climate
Lower end if it's tightly sealed, smaller home, milder climate
This would consider an EPA efficient newer stove.
Two face cords would get me into November here, and not much further.
Wood use would follow a general bell curve lock step with heating degree days, so keeping track of daily/weekly use would vary, and be difficult to visualize until the season is over. Data type people do it regularly, most would give up after a while or maybe after a season.
 

peakbagger

Minister of Fire
Jul 11, 2008
5,633
Northern NH
Yes its good to mention face cords as there is typically no legal definition of face cord as the length of the wood is not defined. A regular cord is legally defined (128 cubic foot).

Ideally the way to go is get a moisture meter and a scale. Weigh the wood before you load the stove and measure several splits for moisture content. From there you can calculate the amount of dry wood you are burning. Now look up your local heating degrees days and you can correlate your wood usage with degrees days. Species really is not that important, species is more an indication of wood density. Softwood actually can have more BTUs/lb than hardwood but its lot less dense so it takes up more room. Wood burners want to store lots of BTUS so they store dense wood. Burning dense wood means less trips to the stove and typically longer burn time. The trade off is dense wood can take longer to air dry.

Few people would go to the trouble. Just get two years ahead on wood and if it a cold winter raid next years wood and then swear you will either buy or process more wood next year.
 
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Lakeside

Minister of Fire
Feb 6, 2009
556
Mike's World
"do I need to write "face" to clarify every time, "==== Yes
 
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ChadMc

Member
Dec 12, 2019
102
Bucks County PA
Moved into a new home 2 years ago and installed a regency 2400 stove right away. I did the same thing! I had a “log” of how many splits I put in a day and what temp the house was when I woke up and how cold it was outside. I actually split and stacked a cord of wood and counted how many splits there were. Crazy I know, but after a couple weeks I knew exactly what I was going to burn. And at the end of the winter I was dead on 3.5 cords. It was a mild winter and there’s so many variables based on your house and weather. Best advice is to learn your stove and when to load it. If your house is warm and you have a big lump of coals let it sit there for as long as it needs to cause there’s still plenty of heat coming off it. Then feed it to maintain your house temp you like. Don’t feed it just to see a cool flame. Your wood will be gone before you know it!! Bye the way it’s an addiction, good luck haha.
 

qwee

Member
Jan 17, 2013
32
The most important thing is to make sure your wood is dry. You can create a system for this. You need to put yourself on a 3-year schedule. That is, the wood you get this year is the wood you will be burning in 3 years. If your wood is split and stacked in 3 years it will be good to burn. Yes, this means you have to be ahead on your wood. The first couple of years might be tough but thereafter it should be easier. A moisture meter could also help you out (especially early on). Modern EPA wood stoves want wood in the 15 to 20% moisture content range.
 
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Isaac Carlson

Feeling the Heat
Nov 19, 2012
433
NW Wisconsin
I don't worry about how much we use in a day. We try not to get the house over 100*. It's an old homestead/farmhouse (1860)with the half logs still under it and wood shavings in the walls. It leaks air like a sieve. It has been added onto many times and sags like crazy. This might be the first year of actually being ahead on wood. About 15 cord total so far. More than we have ever had at one time. We heat with a cookstove and the house is only cold in the morning, but not every morning. Wood is our only source of heat.

The house needs a lot of attention. We are hoping to start replacing siding next year. It needs a roof too. We usually burn 4-8 cord in an average winter. This is wisconsin, so you never know how it's going to go. As far as keeping track of wood, forget it. I usually have a pretty good tally by spring.
 

sweedish

Member
Feb 6, 2019
179
Michigan
I don’t keep a record of every time I light or reload my stove, just when I bring in more wood, I have 3 gorilla carts with sides and a rack in the house by the stove that holds that. So I log when i restock the rack, and how many carts had hard vs softwood. And it gave me a rough idea how much wood to have stocked up for 3 years, turns out I had to add to the existing woodshed.
 

Wood1Dennis

Burning Hunk
Jan 17, 2016
118
Eastern Wisconsin
When we built in 2016 I built a storage room in the basement and a chute to get the wood in. I will have the last of this years in on Saturday. I stack a season's worth inside, usually in October so it is easy for my to monitor how much I use in a season.

I had to guess on how much I needed the first year and overestimated. I had almost 5 cords down there. After a couple of seasons I know that 3 to 3.5 cord will heat the house for the full season. We have a 1700 square foot ranch with full basement. Last year I turned part of the original wood room into storage shelves so now it fits about 4 cords. That gives me enough for the season with a bit to spare.

I have a tendency to be way to analytical about things and I originally thought about doing something like you are talking about. Log high and low temp, wood use, species, lots of variables.... but I never did it. After burning for a few years I find that at the end of the year the usage averages out and does not change appreciably from year to year. I think once you have a couple of years burning behind you, you will learn how much you need and won't fret the details, unless you want to ;)
 

Highbeam

Minister of Fire
Dec 28, 2006
17,996
Mt. Rainier Foothills, WA
Cord = cord = 128 cubic feet stacked. Bush cord, banana cord, long cord, short cord, face cord, rick, suzy, are not defined volumetric measurements. People just make stuff up sometimes.

When I first started burning I would log the annual cords consumed but the severity of winter matters, length of winter matters, the species of wood matters, chosen level of house warmth matters. And then, as folks do, we made home improvements which included things like more insulation, and new windows that really changed things. Finally, I moved from a Hearthstone heritage after 30 cords to a blaze king and cut my wood consumption by 20% with much better comfort.

You've got to hold everything else constant to get much value out of logging wood use. Once you get 2-3 years ahead then you only really need to know how much you used at the end of the year to know how much is needed to refill your shed. Just measure at the end.
 
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Jan Pijpelink

Minister of Fire
Jan 2, 2015
1,853
South Jersey
Cord = cord = 128 cubic feet stacked. Bush cord, banana cord, long cord, short cord, face cord, rick, suzy, are not defined volumetric measurements. People just make stuff up sometimes.

When I first started burning I would log the annual cords consumed but the severity of winter matters, length of winter matters, the species of wood matters, chosen level of house warmth matters. And then, as folks do, we made home improvements which included things like more insulation, and new windows that really changed things. Finally, I moved from a Hearthstone heritage after 30 cords to a blaze king and cut my wood consumption by 20% with much better comfort.

You've got to hold everything else constant to get much value out of logging wood use. Once you get 2-3 years ahead then you only really need to know how much you used at the end of the year to know how much is needed to refill your shed. Just measure at the end.
You forgot vocal cord.
 

Dustin

Minister of Fire
Sep 3, 2008
593
Western Oregon
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This Rubbermaid storage thing was here when we bought this place. I turned it into my close to the house wood storage (the rest is stacked a ways away). Turns out, it holds exactly 1 cord. This is our first year here, first year with this new stove. I plan to use how many times I fill this thing from the larger shed as my gauge this year.
 
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Poindexter

Minister of Fire
Jun 28, 2014
2,287
Fairbanks, Alaska
Welcome. On this website if you are not talking about a cord - 4x4x8- feet you do need to specify. Average I have observed here is 3-4 cords annually for burners in the lower 48. Given your OP you will probably be at the high end of that, five or maybe even six annual.

It will vary with how warm feels warm to you and your family, how much insulation you have, and how well your air leaks are controlled. Kids leave doors and windows open until they have their own utility bills. You can explain it until you are blue in the face, blind drunk and homicidal, doesn't matter. Some day they will have an apartment where they have to pay their own utility bills, on the way to hopefully buying their own home. Start practicing your quiet indulgent I told you so but I am not an Ahole smile now.

Given that you only have two face cords in stock the only significant data point you will collect this winter is what day you run out of firewood, likely before New Years. No offense.

My suggestion is to figure out where the wife wants you stack four cords of wood now and get going on making that stack. Don't even ask her where to put twelve cords until the heating bills are coming in after your two face cords are gone. Then get busy making that twelve cord stack.

You will want to segregate your incoming oak. It doesn't grow up here, but I have read here over and over and over oak really needs two full summers seasoning before it is ready to burn. The other species, if you have them split, stacked off the ground and top covered by Saint Patricks Day, should be ready in September the same year, assuming decent air flow and sun exposure.

One thing you can look at is the historic utlilty data for the building if you have it. If you can figure out how many kilowatts or therms or whatevers have gone to heat you can probably get 50-75% of that utility usage from the wood stove after converting to BTUs and then looking at BTUs per cord.

Best wishes and good luck. Learn how to sweep your own chimney. Pine is the new burner's best friend while he is waiting on his oak to season.
 
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kennyp2339

Minister of Fire
Feb 16, 2014
5,261
07462
Built my woodshed so each bay holds just a hair over 2 cords each, I typically burn uglys first, maybe 1/2 cord before the real cold sets in, then I make the switch to shed wood, I burn 2 bays of that each season, sometimes I have a small row left by April when I'm burnt out of woodstove work.
 

Woodsplitter67

Minister of Fire
Jan 19, 2017
1,453
Woolwich nj
the easiest thing to do is to measure the wood you start with.. say 4 cords... at the end of the burning season measure it again say you have 1 cord left.. you burned 3 cords for the heating season. if it was a average year for cold youll be around there.. for a cold year then and a core for a warm year subtract a half cord..
 
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St. Coemgen

Feeling the Heat
Feb 4, 2016
273
Hungary
www.stcoemgen.com
I have many wood stacks, and monitor by just knowing how much each stack contained (each stack has about 2 m3 / 0.55 chord), and can measure visually. After many seasons, I pretty much know what we burn each month now.

At first we used a lot of wood. But we renovated. Today, we use about 1.2 to 1.5 chords a year (4 to 5 m3) for our 200 cubic meter space (7000 cubic ft). Mid continental climate. Relative open floor plan (yes, that also matters).

It is worth noting that the number of bedrooms you have is not necessarily relevant (since the average three bedroom home in a place even in the USA can be from 1200 to 2100 sq ft), and you heat by volume anyway, not sq feet (so if you have cathedral ceilings in a 2 bedroom home, you may need more heating than a 4 bedroom home with flat ceilings).

in short, do the math, find out exactly the volume of your space, and there are plenty of online calculators to determine how much wood you will need... and those should include the type of wood you have available. As my dense hardwood (oak, black locust, et al) has more energy per chord (or m3) than other, softer woods. So there are many things to consider here.
 
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