I know for a lot of Mainers, burning wood in the winter time is the only way to go. Some people just use it for ambiance, others use it exclusively instead of any other heat source. My wife and I sort of split that in the middle. We burn a lot of wood over the winter, but it's not what I would describe as our primary heat source.

We mostly use it to put a big dent in the yearly oil bill. We both work during the day, so there's no way to keep it going all day when we're gone. We do our best... We load it up solid in the morning, and there's usually enough coals to get it started again in the evening when we get home. That way, we only use about 300 gallons of oil all winter.

We didn't get our first wood stove til 7 years ago, and we've loved it ever since. But what if this is your first season with a stove? We can cover the basics here. You Mainers that have been doing this forever will see nothing new here likely, but if you're new to the process, this can help get you going.

What's the right stuff to get? First off you'll need to know the difference between seasoned wood and green wood. Seasoned wood has been cut and drying for at least six months. Green wood has been freshly cut. Green wood will almost steam more than burn, and not as hot or efficiently. Seasoned wood burns nice and toasty and keeps you warm.

How much wood is enough? This will be different answers for different people. If you just enjoy a casual fire for atmosphere, a cord will likely do it. If you burn mostly wood and not oil, probably 3-4 cords. Always buy more than you think you might need, especially if it's your first time. You can always save leftovers for next year. But 3-4 cords, per 1000sf should do the trick.

How much wood is in a cord? A stacked cord of wood has to measure 4 feet wide by 4 feet high by 8 feet long to be a true cord, according to the BDN. The sad part is, not all wood dealers are reputable. Not always on purpose, they've just been given misinformation about how much a truck holds, etc. Which brings us to....

Where do I get firewood? There are tons of places to find it. Start with asking people you know. A personal reference is usually the best. You can also use Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace, Uncle Henry's, etc. It's not hard to find, but sometimes it gets harder to come by the later in the season you buy.

What's the average cost per cord? These days it's kind of settled out. Generally for seasoned wood, it's anywhere from $225-$300 a cord. If you're feeling lumberjack-y, you can sometimes save money by getting greener wood early in the year, and let it season in your yard. But really, get it as early as possible. It's nothing you want to wait til last minute to get.

My grandfather always used to say the best part of fire wood was that it heated you up three times.... when you cut it, when you stack it, and when you burn it. And he is not wrong. Even just stacking pre-cut, seasoned wood is a chore. But one that you can turn into a little bit of fun.

And remember, try not to bring all of it inside. It's certainly convenient, but you're asking for a whole host of insects and bugs to come live inside with you too. Just something to keep in mind. And you'll discover your own tricks too. But this should get you started on your first winter burning. Good heating!

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