The comforting light of a fire is irresistible, especially during the colder months of the year. Stoking the embers is just as enthralling now as it was when humans first discovered fire.
However, firewood provides more than simply a warm glow. For millions of people throughout the globe, it is still a crucial source of heat. One of the first things you should ask if you want to utilize wood heating is, “how long does a cord of wood last?” Here’s a quick answer:
When used as the principal heat source for a residence in the winter, a complete cord of wood generally lasts 6-10 weeks. The exact length of time that wood will survive is dependent on a variety of circumstances, so always have more wood on hand than you think you’ll need.
6-10 weeks is a fair timeframe, although it varies greatly depending on the kind of wood, the size of the area, the insulation quality, and other factors. When it comes to winter preparations, the last thing you want to do is underestimate how much wood you’ll need.
Below, we’ll go through the eight most important aspects to consider, as well as a real-life example from our farm home to help you better estimate your firewood requirements.
The distinction between a full cord and a face cord
You must understand what we mean when saying “full chord” before proceeding. A cord is the sole government-recognized “standard” measurement for wood. However, most persons who sell firewood do it by the face cord (also called a rick cord, stove cord, or furnace cord).
- A face cord is a four-foot-high, eight-foot-long, and sixteen-inch-deep stack of wood.
- A standard (or complete) cord is a 4-foot-high, 8-foot-long, and 4-foot-deep stack of wood.
If you didn’t notice, the only difference between the face cord and cordwood is that the face cord is 16 inches deep while the cordwood is 4 feet deep. So, what’s the deal? Most house stoves/furnaces won’t accommodate logs that are 4 feet long. That is why “face cord” firewood is often purchased and sold.
Because there are three face cards in a complete cord’s total amount of wood, it’s critical to comprehend the difference. This is crucial for evaluating your fuel requirements and comparing firewood prices.
Read our post on wood bits in a cord if you want to learn more about how cordwood is sized and measured. Now that we’ve cleared up the measuring jargon let’s look at one of the most significant aspects of firewood heating: hardwood vs. softwood.
8 Questions to Ask When Trying to Estimate Winter Wood Supply
According to our expertise, when calculating how much firewood you’ll need for heating, there are eight primary factors to consider. We’ll break them down in this section to help you get started.
1. Do you use firewood as your primary source of heat?
There’s a significant difference between someone who uses a wood burner for all of their home heating and someone who just uses it for weekend campfires.
We’re using firewood as the primary heat source in the actual example below. Still, if you obtain 70% of your heat from another source (natural gas, electric, etc. ), your wood usage will drastically decrease.
You may not have considered it, but processed wood pellets may also be used to heat your house. Check read this page to learn more about wood pellets and how to choose the best ones.
2. What is the size of your house?
Heating a 2,000 square foot farmhouse needs a lot more wood than heating an 800 square foot home. The more space you have, the more timber you’ll need.
This one is obviously obvious, but it will likely help you compare the square footage of your own home to the one below (hint: it’s a 1,900 square foot farmhouse).
3. Do you want to burn all day or simply in the evenings?
You don’t need to keep a fire going if no one is home all day. By simply burning in the evening, you may save a lot of money on wood.
If you work from home or have a family that stays at home throughout the day, you’ll be heating all day and burning more wood as a consequence.
4. What’s the state of your insulation?
In the realm of wood heating, insulation is crucial. The amount of wood you require might be drastically reduced if you have sufficient insulation.
It is also more efficient to have good insulation. If you’re purchasing firewood, this will save you money. And, in any case, using less energy/wood is better for the environment.
5. What is the quality of your stove?
Stoves aren’t all made equal. When you use a high-efficiency stove, you’ll get more heat while using less wood.
If you haven’t yet purchased a stove, consider investing in a more energy-efficient one. It may save you money and time in the long term and create a more pleasant environment.
6. What city do you reside in?
There are many causes for this. Temperatures and the duration of winter are the two most important factors.
For example, someone living in Texas will use far less wood than someone living in Michigan. Because temperatures are already higher and winter lasts for fewer months, less heat is required.
Depending on how your wood is kept, local moisture and rain/snow levels may make it damp. This has an impact on the burn quality and heat output.
The availability of wood is another factor that is influenced by geographic location. I’m referring to both the amount and the sort of wood available. It’s even more vital to stock up early if the wood is limited (or to consider heating alternatives).
And if you only have access to softwood where you live, you’ll need more than if you had access to complete hardwood. This leads me to my next point.
7. What is the difference between hardwood and softwood firewood?
The sort of firewood you use has a significant influence on:
- How long does it take for the wood to decompose?
- Your fireplace’s heat output
- Your fireplace’s scent/fragrance
- The mass of your timber
- The amount of ash in your wood
- The price of your lumber (if purchasing)
Hardwoods, on the whole, are heavier, burn for longer, and are better for heating than softwoods.
Here’s an example to demonstrate my point: Spruce (a softwood) cord produces 15.5 million BTUs of heat, whereas a cable of Shagbark Hickory (a hardwood) produces 27.5 million BTUs, according to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. That’s almost twice as much!
Note that if you utilize wood pellets, this tendency is reversible. That strikes me as really intriguing. Learn more about wood pellets in this article.
If you’re not sure what a softwood and a hardwood tree are, here’s a list of some of the most typical examples of each:
Common types of hardwoods:
Common types of softwoods:
8. Is the wood well seasoned?
To state that wood has been “seasoned” suggests that it has been thoroughly dried. You can still burn unseasoned wood, but it will be less efficient since some burning energy will be required to dry off moisture.
If you want to reduce the quantity of wood you have to buy/gather, make sure it’s well seasoned before you start burning it. When a tree is newly cut, it takes 6-12 months for the wood to season properly.
Here’s an additional trick for seasoning wet or “green” wood in five stages if you haven’t done it before:
Outside or in a shed:
Begin your wood-stacking project outdoors. It may be placed entirely outdoors or beneath an open-air shed/shelter.
Use a firewood rack or salvaged pallets to get your wood off the ground. This enables air to flow, allowing the wood to cure completely.
Stability is achieved by stacking:
Only stack the wood as high as is safe. This is dependent on the stability of the ground. Stop if it makes you uneasy!
Rows should be spaced apart:
Each stack should be spaced by at least a few inches for air movement. This enables the wood to dry more quickly.
If your woodpile is outdoors and you have a cover or tarp, you may use it to keep rain and snow off of it. Just make sure it doesn’t wholly restrict airflow from the stack’s side.
Frequently Asked Questions:
Q1. What is the price of a cord of wood?
Let’s speak about money for a moment. If you’re looking for firewood, you’ll want to have a pricing range in mind so you can browse around.
Several factors might influence the price of firewood, including the following:
Season of the year (fees are higher in winter)
When wood is scarce, costs rise.
Geographical Area (your location can drive prices up or down)
Whether or not the wood has been seasoned (some charge more for dry wood)
Wood species (hardwoods can cost more than softwoods)
The merchant may charge for additional services (delivery, stacking, etc.)
Q2. What is the weight of a cord of wood?
According to the US Department of Commerce, one cord of wood has a volume of 128 cubic feet.
Q3: What is the weight of that?
It’s worth noting that various kinds of wood have varying weights. Furthermore, the moisture level of timber (or how dry it is) significantly impacts its weight.
A rough estimate would be 3,000-5,000 pounds per rope. This is for “green” (yet-to-be-dried) wood.
For heavier hardwoods (such as oak, ash, and others), the weight would be on the upper end of this spectrum and the lower end for softwoods (like pine, spruce, etc.)
Firewood is an old, essential, and timeless material. Aside from providing good heat, firewood is a terrific method to get more connected to the natural world.
There aren’t many things as rewarding as hand-splitting a stack of your firewood if you haven’t done it before. It takes time and work, but you can watch your progress build up.