Why Heat with Wood Instead of Electricity?

Posted by Redwood Outdoors on Jun 27th 2018

Why Heat with Wood Instead of Electricity?

Why Heat with Wood Instead of Electricity?

We talk about how using wood burning stoves in hot tubs and saunas is better from the standpoint of ease-of-use. It’s a very practical solution when you’re building your hot tub or sauna in a remote location, be it your family’s vacation home, cottage, or cabin. It’s even a boon for backyard retreats because you don’t need to worry about placing the unit near your home for power access, hiring an electrician to help with the install, and other hassles. Despite the obvious reasons, and certainly in today’s eco-conscious society, you may still wonder—why heat with wood instead of electricity? Let’s explore the reasons and go over how to heat with wood in a way that honors all the earth has given us.

Reasons to Choose Wood Over Electricity

Wood is Renewable

The earth has a limited amount of fossil fuels and there are great concerns about what will happen we use them up or our needs outpace production. We often think about renewable power sources in the form of solar or wind energy, but wood is renewable too. Just be sure to purchase wood that’s sustainably harvested.

You Don’t Have to Contribute to Global Warming

An argument could be made that wood isn’t as bad for global warming because the carbon dioxide released as it burns was initially part of our environment anyway. Trees just absorb it and hold it for a period of time, whereas fossil fuels release carbon dioxide from inside the earth into the atmosphere. But, the real catch here is that there’s a whole lot involved in the creation of traditional non-renewable energy, from collecting the fuel to combusting and storing it. If you’re purchasing wood that was harvested locally, you’re consuming fewer resources than you otherwise would and will have a reduced carbon footprint. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently declared it’s carbon-neutral as well.

You’re in Control

You’re not dependent on a corporation to deliver your power when you choose wood. That means you’ll have heat regardless of what’s happening with the outside world. This will also make you more aware of what you’re consuming. It’s easy to crank up an electric dial and have your hot tub run around the clock, needlessly squandering resources. When you use wood, you know exactly what you’re consuming.

There’s Less Waste

Again, people have the tendency to either turn on their electric devices and leave them or set a timer that runs in the background, regardless of whether they intend to use the unit or not. That’s wasted energy and wasted resources. With wood, you’re only burning what you need when you need it.

You Can Support Your Local Community

Most people don’t have a choice of which company they source their power from. The grid’s in place, and if you want energy, you have to tap into the grid established by a corporate entity. However, you do have a choice of where you purchase your wood, and you can choose to support a local business. Researchshows that 68% of the money you spend at a local business will remain in your city, compared to 43% if you purchase from a chain. Not only are you improving your local economy by doing this, you’re creating jobs and helping build a thriving community.

You’re Saving Money

We gave a full breakdown in “Electric vs Wood Fire Hot Tub: Which Costs More to Run?” Suffice it to say, wood is cheaper.

The Ambiance is Better

There’s nothing quite like the pleasant aroma of a wood fire and the faint crackles that fill the air. Wood is the only way to create this kind of rustic and soothing ambiance.

Ways to Burn Wood Smarter

Opt for Local Sustainably-Sourced Wood

When it’s sustainably-sourced and local, you’re reducing your carbon footprint.

Choose the Right Wood

The short version is that hardwoods burn slower and last longer than softwoods do, simply because hardwoods have less resin. But, even within the hardwoods, there are differences in efficiency. You can check with your local supplier to get a recommendation or you can dig into the data on your own. Comparisons are done by looking at BTUs, which are British thermal units, or the amount of heat required to raise the temperature of one pound of water by one degree Fahrenheit. For example, one cord of Douglas Fir is equal to 20,600,000 BTUs, while Pine is equal to 17,100,000. You can see all the wood values onEngineering Toolbox and compare them to various non-wood energy sources on the US Forestry’sFuel Value Calculator. The grid below gives a quick comparison.

Tree SpeciesBTUs Per Cord of Dry WoodGallons of Fuel OilTons of Hard CoalGallons of Propane
Red Oak24,000,000170.92263
Douglas Fir20,600,000146.79226
Pine17,100,000121.66188

Season Your Wood

Wood should be dried for a minimum 4-6 months and stacked properly to ensure maximum efficiency.

Use an Efficient Stove

The design of your stove can drastically vary the efficiency by allowing you to burn more of each log.

Keep the Chimney Clean

Buildup in the chimney reduces the draw of the oven and reduces efficiency. Check and clean yours on a regular basis.

Burn “Hot” Fires

Resist the urge to use the damper to control the level of heat, as that can create smokier fires. Instead, build a larger fire to start when you’re trying to reach your ideal temperature, and then build a smaller hot fire to maintain it rather than turning to the damper. You’ll create less smoke this way and improve efficiency.

Explore Wood-Heated Hot Tubs and Saunas

At Redwood Outdoors, we think wood’s the way to go for all these reasons and more. That’s why all our products leverage wood fired stoves rather than electricity. If you’d like to experience the difference for yourself, check out our selection ofwood fired hot tubs andbarrel saunas.