As winter approaches, many people look for ways to lower their monthly expenses. One of the main things people wonder is does a woodstove help with heating bills? This is a hard question to answer, but generally speaking, the answer is yes – even if you have to buy the wood to use. Of course, there is much more to consider when you look at the cost of fuel to heat your home. While you can lower your monthly bills this way, there are some things to consider before you take the plunge to wood heat. Does a woodstove help with heating bills? Let's take a look at how you can truly maximize your savings, so you spend less money to heat your house.

Cost of Wood:

One of the main factors when trying to determine how much you can lower your heating bills with a woodstove, is the overall cost of the wood you are buying. You can purchase firewood from big companies or local individuals. Generally speaking, you will be dealing with units of measure referred to as a cord of wood. While you may pay more for delivery, splitting and stacking, until you know exactly what the units of measure are, you will not be able to effectively compare the prices, so you can lower your monthly home heating bills with a woodstove.

Units of Measure:

To make matters more difficult when trying to determine if a woodstove will help with heating bills, there are several units of measure you will hear used. Let's look at some of the standard ways to measure firewood. Please note that the exact verbiage used will vary by region.

Cord: A cord (sometimes called full cord or logger's cord) of wood is 128 cubic feet. It is 4 feet high, by four feet long, by 8 feet wide. Sometimes it will be cut into smaller sections than 4 feet long, so they can fit in the stove, but when placed together, this should be the measurement. While the cord is precisely 128 cubic feet, measuring is not really an exact science. There will be gaps in the wood, which is acceptable. This means there is some variance. While prices will vary, you can generally expect to pay about $225 or more for this size, not delivered or stacked.

Face Cord: This is a less exact science. This is generally 1/3 of a cord. Essentially, rather than receiving 4 foot long logs, they are cut to stove sized, 16 inch lengths. There is some variance with this, but this is the general practice. There are some other terms for this unit of measure which includes: Stove cord, furnace cord, 1/3 cord. All of them are essentially the same thing. As long as you remember that it's 1/3 the size of a cord, you can compare sizes and prices more effectively. You will generally pay about $90 or so for this size, not including delivery or stacking. You pay a little more since the pieces are cut into manageable 16 inch pieces. NOTE: Some dealers will cut into 12 inch pieces, not 16 inch. This means you only get 1/4 of a cord. Be sure to check this carefully.

Truckloads: Ugh. This is a difficult way to determine how much you are getting, so it makes it difficult to determine how much a woodstove will help with heating and utility bills, whether electric, propane, or natural gas. A truckload can be anywhere from 1/4 to 1/2 of a cord. This is far less than an exact science and it will be very difficult to determine if you are getting a good deal before you stack it. Word of mouth will generally tell you what sellers are providing a good value for their customers.

Ways To Reduce The Costs:

Avoid extra costs: Delivery, splitting and stacking will all add to the overall cost of the wood for the heating season. If you have a trailer or pickup truck, consider hauling it on your own and splitting the wood yourself. You may also want to consider purchasing larger quantities for price breaks. When trying to determine, does a woodstove save money on heating bills, you must realize you can save even more if you are determined to do it.

Cutting Permits – DIY Friendly: Many times you can get a permit to gather any wood missed by loggers or on county forest lands. This can mean settling for smaller tops, but it can also mean a lot less work if you do are going to cut the wood on your own. Check into it to see if you can take advantage of this in your area. It will make the task easier, and without firewood to purchase, using a woodstove will save a lot of money on your heating and utility bills this winter.

About Energy Efficiency:

It wasn't that long ago that energy efficiency was rarely even considered when it came to woodstoves. Since many cut their own wood, it wasn't seen as nearly as important. Today, even if cutting your own wood for free, energy efficiency is important. An increase in efficiency means a decrease in the amount of wood used for heating. If you are cutting your own, it means less work to get enough wood fuel for the season. Obviously, if you are purchasing, it means less expense to heat your home during the winter months. It may or may not be worth an upgrade to your system, depending on how much wood you use, and the difference in efficiency between the woodstove you have now, compared to a new one.

Fireplaces Cost More:

Fireplaces- the open front style- are horribly inefficient in most cases. In fact, it could actually cost you more money to use one that what you would gain from them, even with free wood. Fireplaces suck air from the room they are in, which may be heated with gas, electric or propane. As they suck the heated air, it's entirely possible for them not to give off enough heat to offset the heated air they are using to burn. It's just something to consider when you attempt to reduce your expenses.