Is your wood-burning stove not producing enough heat? Or does it consume too much firewood?
Quick answer: To improve your wood stove’s efficiency, use a firewood holder, use properly dried wood, and keep the chimney and the airways clean. Additionally, you can install a wood stove insert or a reflective wall heat shield.
How to improve wood stove efficiency (13 Methods)
Here’s a full list of all the ways to improve your wood stove’s efficiency.
#1 Use a firewood holder
One reason your wood stove’s efficiency lacks can be that your firewood does not get enough oxygen. You can fix this using this wood stove firewood holder (click here to view it on amazon).
( Just make sure it fits your wood stove’s dimensions before buying it )
A firewood holder allows more air to enter below the burning logs and improves the airflow a lot.
If you don’t have a firewood holder yet, then I highly recommend trying them!
#2 Install a wood stove insert
If you have an old large-sized wood stove or even a fireplace, you should install a wood stove insert.
A wood stove insert transforms your old burning chamber into a modern high-efficiency stove.
#3 Install a reflective heat shield behind your wood stove
To improve your wood stove’s efficiency, install a reflective heat shield to the walls behind your wood stove.
Actually, heat shields are used to protect the walls from heat. But accordingly, all the heat that does not enter your walls (thanks to the heat shield) stays in your room.
So, heat shields increase your wood stove’s efficiency.
And if you don’t have one, you should get one!
#4 Wood stove fans
Wood stove fans are small fans to place on your wood stove. They need no batteries and they are powered entirely by the rising heat of your wood stove.
Many people say that wood stove fans increase your wood stove’s efficiency. And indeed, they blow some air into the room.
However, that does not really change the technical efficiency of your wood stove.
Rather, it affects the perceived efficiency slightly (because warm air is blown toward you).
I’d say wood stove fans are too weak to really make a big difference. But they are a nice gimmick and a conversation starter.
This wood stove fan (click here to view it on amazon) is very popular, in case you are interested in getting one.
If they really improve your wood stove’s efficiency, then only slightly.
#5 Install a chimney liner
Chimney liners are inserts that you insert into your chimney. They reduce your chimney’s diameter to optimize for airflow.
A too-small diameter prevents airflow, while a too-large diameter allows for too-large volumes of air to move at low speed.
A chimney insert optimizes your chimney’s diameter for the stack effect which causes air to be sucked upward through your chimney.
This would improve the air drawn into your wood stove and, therefore, increase the burning rate of your wood stove.
Chimney liner installation is usually a larger project, so before you do that, try the previous tips!
#6 Install a catalytic combustor
If you have an older wood stove that’s not as efficient as modern ones, you can add a catalytic combustor to it.
A catalytic combustor improves the heating efficiency of your wood stove by enabling chemical reactions to take place with the gases inside your stove.
#7 Reinstall the wood stove’s pipe at a proper angle
To optimize your wood stove’s burning efficiency your wood stove should allow high airflows.
If you must angle your pipe, aim for two 45-degree angles instead of 90 degrees. Straight pipes allow for stronger air drafts and promote more efficient burning.
#8 Use dry, well-seasoned wood
Nothing will cause your wood to burn inefficiently like moisture.
Essentially, you should harvest your wood at least 2 years before you plan to burn it. Of course, this depends on the climate zone you’re in.
To dry wood properly, stack it in an open area where it’s exposed to direct sunlight and wind. Of course, the wood should also be covered (ideally with a roof) to protect it from rain and dew.
#9 Clean your chimney
Chimneys are made to allow smooth airflow, so a clogged chimney will disrupt the airflow and cause the stove to burn inefficiently.
Before winter or fall seasons start, have a chimney sweep and clean the air pipes connected to the stove.
This will remove smoke to leave easily and oxygen to come in, but it also removes creosote deposits on the chimney walls, which is flammable and dangerous.
#10 Repair the chimney and stove
Besides blockage, any warping on the chimney and the stove itself can cause leakage and affect the overall operation of the stove.
For this reason, you should also investigate the internal steel parts of the wood stove, as well as the chimney and the airway pipes. If anything seems cracked, warped, or misshaped, have it repaired immediately.
While at it, check the door seal of the stove for leakage. You can lay a dollar bill across the door gasket and then close the door. If you can pull your bill out comfortably, the gasket is too loose and needs to be tightened.
#11 Set a steady moderate airflow into your wood stove
Oxygen is vital for combustion to occur, which is why we need a chimney and vents. However, too much wind will make the logs burn too fast and disappear. To have a steady burn, close the bottom air vents you had opened when lighting the stove and partially cover the chimney. You still need airflow through the chimney but not full-blown wind.
#12 Burn only a couple of logs at a time
Again, a wood stove needs plenty of air to burn wood efficiently and stop wastage. One way to do this is to pack the logs lightly, allowing some space for air inside there. Too many logs cause a slow, smoky burn which is highly wasteful and not hot.
Instead, wait for the logs to burn down to almost nothing before adding more. It would help if you also raked off some of the ash to ensure adequate airflow. You should only add as many logs as you need, not more.
#13 Keep it hot
Burning wood at moderate heat provides the cleanest, most efficient burn. This cuts down on wastage, chimney build-up, and time. It’s easy to think that burning your stove at low will be more efficient, but it’s really not.
Does using different wood improve wood stove efficiency?
Essentially, the heaviest hardwood you can find is the best because it burns hot and slow, so there’s no wastage.
This however is only important if you are buying the wood. Any free wood around you will be more cost-effective because you are not spending money.
That said, using different wood does affect the cost per heat measured in BTU. For example, you get 27.5 million BTU of heat per cord of Beachwood and 30.7 million BTU of heat per cord of Oak.
Also, the area’s humidity and type of wood may require you to adjust the stove’s oxygen intake to ensure the wood is burning as efficiently as possible. But, aside from that, the type of wood doesn’t really affect the stove’s efficiency in any way.
The best way to improve a wood stove’s efficiency is to install a heat shield and improve the airflow into your wood stove (by using a fireplace insert or a chimney liner).
Additionally, you should use well-seasoned wood and maintain the wood stove.
The type of wood you are using may not matter much as long as it’s completely dry and the stove is working properly without any blockage or leaks.
After all, wood-burning stoves are the most efficient off-grid heating method and the most affordable.