The federal government expects the price of heating oil to go up as much as 77 percent in the mid-west this winter. Natural gas could go up 33 percent. Those numbers, according to Heat 'n Sweep owner Don Davis, has customers investing in wood stoves, furnaces and fireplaces.
Davis says a face cord of wood (4ft x 8ft x 16in) has remained nearly the same price - around 45 dollars/cord - for ten years. He also says a 15 hundred foot home could reasonably be heated by a wood furnace on 8 to 10 face cords a winter (roughly 500 dollars for the whole season).
New technologies like efficient fireplaces keep more heat in a home (about 70%) than traditional fireplaces (about 20%)
He does say it's rare these days to rely entirely on wood for heat. He says it's more likely to install a wood stove or fireplace to compliment a current home heating system (oil or natural gas).
And if you go the wood route... make sure your back is strong. Hauling and stacking wood is more physically demanding than turning the thermostat.