Re: raw amateur here
- View SourceKaren,
Welcome to the group. This sounds like such a terribly exciting adventure you are embarking on. I was a newbie to this group and wood heating about a year ago. I had just bought a residential house (about 2900 square feet) with a terribly leaky fireplace that I had just boarded up in the winter. Then I bought a new EPA approved stove as a fireplace insert and my plan was to set my natural gas furnace to about 62-64F and then use the stove in the evenings in the winter to bring the temperature up to something that would keep my family revolting from the cold. Generally, I was successful in bringing up the temperature to about 67-68F in the main living area about about 65F in the upstairs bedrooms (without special ductwork). This quelled the revolts and saved me probably about $100 a month for the five coldest months of the year. I burned about a cord and half of wood last year (mostly mulberry and cherry, with a little well seasoned pine thrown in).
This last summer, I trimmed and stacked about another cord and half and with the more than half cord that was still seasoning from previous years, I have somewhat over two cords right now. It's about two-thirds hardwood and one-third pine/poplar.
Most of what I trimmed and stacked was fairly small diameter (branches and such) so it took a long time. On the one hand, it was a good bit of fun (a very nice diversion from my day job where I am stuck in front of a computer) and helped me put on some muscles. On the other hand, I spent the better part of every weekend for 3-4 months doing all this trimming, cutting and stacking. Eventually, I figured this wasn't exactly the way I wanted to spend my life. So, in the future, I will be on the lookout for larger diameter rounds (maybe contacting tree services who are looking to dump their cuttings), and possibly (although I hope not) resorting to buying some wood.
I share this story to give you an idea of the time commitment I undertook just to raise the temperature in my house (which is outside the Washington DC area -- not nearly as cold as where you are) just 3-5 degrees for five months and for about 6-8 hours a day, and this took the better part of two full cords. By the way, I will be 49 next month (to give you an idea of my age).
Your adventure sounds fabulous and wonderful -- and I hope it continues to be so -- but please keep in mind several of these comments about how much work it would be to try and heat all by wood.
Good luck, and keep us posted.