I love heating with wood. Let me count the whys:

Even though we have electric central heating,  we heat our house with wood. We set our thermostat to 60 degrees and hope it never goes off (but it does go off sometimes, especially in the mornings).

This is our wood pile from early fall. We were pretty happy with our good start.

Our house is small and our rooms are cozy (small), so we have two smaller wood stoves that aren’t very efficient (they are pretty old, a nice efficient wood stove is on my wish list).  Fortunately, the strong spring storms of 2014 gave us plenty of wood to scavenge (some wood so curved it was like a tornado twisted out the tree). It’s a very cozy and warm heat, especially with a pot of water on the stove to steam the dry air.

We also live in a wooded area and our power goes out sometimes for a few days at a time. In the winter, the stoves make being without power manageable and even fun for a couple of days. We can cook on the stove and heat the house. We have candles for light and either melted snow or rain barrels for flushing the toilet. (Summer is harder, we can’t put food outside so anything refrigerated goes bad, and no running water or fans in the summer heat is much more uncomfortable.)

We also learn which wood burns hottest, longest, dries fastest and smell the best (or worst- Ailanthus). We’ve learned how to identify trees by the bark- although I’m still not great at this, my husband is much better. We get excited when we find hot hard woods like cherry, oak, hickory (splits stringy smells great), and locust. And we give thanks to the trees for keeping us warm.

My boys have all done a good amount of wood stacking. And now that they are all stronger than me, they do a large part of the wood hauling (with their Dad).  We all get our workouts stacking the wood. It is a feel good work-out (more so for me and my husband, kids grumble at chores).

Another observation is that when I’m home by myself, I burn fewer logs. I get the stove hot in the morning but let it almost die down through the day as the sun warms the house. And then mid-afternoon, I’ll get it going again so when the kids get home, they will be warm. I realize I’m a warm bodied person and actually even like the feel of cold air. So it keeps us in touch with how our bodies work and what our comfort zone is (I also turn the heat off during the day). If the thermostat was set at a constant temperature, I might not think about any of this.

I like knowing where our heat is from. We have a lot of railway crossings and see the coal trains every day. My family has seen The Last Mountain and other American Conservation Film Festival -type films. The destruction caused by mining and burning coal is extremely sad. So that's a big motivation. 

My Dad had (and still uses) some pretty good heat saving techniques. Because we all left the house in the day, he set the temperature down pretty low when we were gone. I was sometimes the first home and I knew to turn the heat up to where he marked with a black sharpie on the thermostat (it was a dial back then). My Mom was not and still is not warm bodied and wears sweaters even in 70 degree weather so it was nice to turn the heat up for her before she got home from work.

We would like to eventually get off the grid but can’t afford solar panels yet.  I’m hoping they become more affordable in the coming years so that it will be more like saving for an appliance than getting a loan for a car, boat, or a house. But I think that even if we could afford solar panels, I’d still want to heat with wood, at least in the evening and through the night.