Home Heating

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Published on: Jan. 2, 2007

Last revision: Nov. 30, 2010

edge feathering. You can either cut the trees yourself and sell the logs or let a logger fell the trees. After the timber harvest, you’ll have plenty of firewood in the form of tree tops and cull logs.

You can also take down trees to create openings in your forest. The openings will provide early successional habitat for wildlife, as well as places to view wildlife. Arrange any leftover wood that you can’t use for firewood into brush piles, which provide outstanding habitat for small mammals.

Not for Everyone, But…

Given that wood is bulky, heavy, usually dirty and sometimes contains insects, it’s easy to understand why fewer people these days are burning wood to heat their homes. Firewood also has to be seasoned and requires a good deal of storage space. And, not many people want to get up in the middle of the night to start or stoke a fire in a stove.

However, heating with firewood can save you money over the long run, especially if you cut your own wood.

Firewood cutting can also create great memories with friends and family and result in healthier forests with better wildlife habitat. Finally, there’s the charm of a wood fire which, as they now say about so many good things, is priceless.

Heat Values of Various Woods

Species Million Btus per cord*
Ash 23.6
Boxelder 17.5
Cottonwood 16.1
Elm 21.4
Hickory 29.1
Locust (black) 28.1
Oak, Red 25.3
Oak, White 27.0
Osage Orange 30.7
Pine (shortleaf) 19.0
Redcedar 18.9

*Heat is measured in British thermal units. One Btu equals the amount of heat required to raise the temperature of one pound of water 1 degree F.


  • Always keep safety in mind when felling trees or using a chainsaw.
  • Start fires with small amounts of dry kindling. Don’t use flammable liquids that could explode or cause severe burns or house fires.
  • Keep flues and stovepipes clean. Check them frequently for creosote buildup.
  • Don’t contribute to the spread of damaging insects by bringing in firewood from infested areas. Always try to use wood from local sources and keep an eye out for pests. For more information, visit to learn about and identify problem species, such as the emerald ash borer, Asian longhorned beetle, gypsy moth and the sirex wood wasp. If you find a suspect insect, please contact us (see page 1 for a list of regional office phone numbers).

There’s lots to know about cutting and burning firewood. For more information, contact your local forester or the University of Missouri Extension office. You can visit their Web site at


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