Overnight Burn, Or Lack Thereof

Okay.  It’s objectively cold in here.  Even by my standards.  We’re edged up to what is, on historical average, the coldest week of the year here, and the past few mornings have been in the 0-5ºF range (-18 to -15C) outside.  The morning kitchen temps have been around 43ºF/6ºC.  Once the fire gets going, the downstairs gets into the 50’s.   But the bedroom probably hasn’t seen 50 in a week or more.

People keep asking me what quality of “overnight burn” we’re able to achieve with our wood stove– this is a popular topic of discussion among wood burning people.  (Example:  “You get a good overnight burn with that Vermont Castings at your camp?”  “Yeah, pretty good.  I top-load ‘er to the brim just before bed, get ‘er roaring, then damp ‘er down all the way and she’s good for seven, eight hours.”)  However, we haven’t bothered to find out the answer yet.  Generally we’ve stopped putting wood on the fire by 7 or 8pm, or when the temps get to the low 60’s, whichever comes first.  So by bedtime, it’s pretty much burned down to coals, and by morning, it’s a big iron icecube.  We could load four or five logs in just before bed, but really, what’s the point of heating a house while all the inhabitants are unconscious?

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One Response to “Overnight Burn, Or Lack Thereof”

  1. MissMechante Says:

    I live in the mountains of western North Carolina, and heat my house with a woodstove. In the winter, the rooms at the back of the house (away from the woodstove) are usually around 50. The open living room/dining room/kitchen area where the woodstove is located is 8-10 degrees warmer. Ceiling fans help circulate the heat. I work at home so I sit in a 50 degree office all day. It’s really not that bad if you dress properly (for me that includes down slippers, fingerless gloves, and a hat. )

    The reason you want to keep the fire going all night is that it actually takes less fuel in the long run if you keep the house at more of a steady temp, rather than letting it get totally cold and reheating daily. Remember, everything in your house is a heat sink. The furniture, bookshelves, whatever. The goal is to warm everything in the house up and then maintain a minimum temperature. You’re wasting all that heat you previously generated if you let everything cool back down again every day. It took a couple seasons of practice, but we are now at the point where we’ve got the woodstove dialed in and only need to load it 2, maybe 3 times a day. We’re using less wood and staying warmer. If loaded properly with good wood, I easily get a 9 hour burn time with my cast iron Jotul stove. Plus the stove operates better if it stays warm and has a good bed of coals. And you don’t have to bother getting the fire started every day, you just keep putting wood in.

    When we’re having people over, or just want to get nice and cozy by the fire, we open up the dampers and let it really burn! Takes more wood, but it warms the house to where you can walk around in a t-shirt.

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