Was talking with a dude about what we did this weekend.Mentioned that I had split a rick (8' X 4') and half of wood. Got my exercise."Oh, you heat with wood? Cool!"...."Must be nice to have all that free heat...wish I could do that".I drive a full size pickup. The primary reason for the truck instead of something like a Mazda Miata is firewood. But ya' gotta drive something, so ignore that.
The chainsaw is a Stihl 044. I have 4 bars. Two 20", one 24", and one 30" bar. I have eight or so chains for the 20", and two each for the larger bars. Call that a grand. The maul, wedges, and sledge are small change, maybe a couple of hundred.
You have to store the wood to season it. Racks, old railroad ties, landscape timbers, and the space it all takes up. Again, if you scavenge most of that, small change.
You need a stove, along the heat shields, the triple wall chimney, and the brick platform it sits on. Let's call that two grand.
Most of that is one time costs and in the end insignificant to the cost of heating with wood. That cost is not measured in dollars.
Wood. I have figured out that I need about 17 or so full truckloads every winter. That's 17 half-days. Leave the house after lunch, drive to the land owned by a very generous friend who lets me cut on his property, cut, split, load the truck, drive home, unload and stack. If a Saturday appears where I think, "Wow, I'm pretty well free today," my next thought is to go sharpen the spare chains and load up the saw.
The cold weather comes. Maybe in October you start having a fire in the evening. The first one is a pleasure, the room warms, and your summer efforts pay off. By mid-November, the stove is running all the time. Might not be stoked up, but there's a little fire going to keep the chill off. The wood pile begins to shrink.
December to March, you are bringing wood to the porch every day, adding wood to the stove every few hours, hauling ashes out. The woodpile disappears and you start to wonder if you gathered enough.
There's a reason people put in gas furnaces. You have to want to heat with wood. You have to be willing to work hard to do it. You are going to sweat. You need to be in reasonable shape. You need the skills to wield that saw, cut down good sized trees and make stove sized pieces, and not kill or maim yourself.
There is nothing free about it.