Firewood costs between $200 and $500 per cord, depending on the type of wood, your location, and the time of year.
Although I prefer to cut and split my firewood, there are times when winter is approaching, and I need to purchase a cord or two to bolster my supplies. The firewood cost around the country always shocks me, especially for the more premium hardwood species.
There are several ways to reduce the amount you pay for heating your home this winter, so let’s have a look at the aspects that impact on the cost of firewood.
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Cost of a Bundle of Firewood
The average cost for a bundle of firewood is between $4 and $7. This depends on your location and the type of wood. A bundle of firewood is around 1 cubic foot – this is what you will typically see at a gas station. Buying firewood by the bundle is significantly more expensive than buying it in bulk.
The most expensive places I have found buying bundles of firewood is gas stations, grocery stores, and even home depot. Campsites can also be costly, depending on how remote they are.
You need to consider how much firewood you will need, as this cost can skyrocket if you burn several bundles per night. There isn’t a big difference in price for different types of wood – a bundle of pine is not substantially cheaper than oak even though the heat production is significantly worse.
Cost of a Cord of Firewood
A full cord represents 128 cubic feet of firewood. The average cost of a cord of firewood is between $120 and $600, depending on your location and wood species.
The first thing to do is to estimate how many cords you will need to keep your home warm all winter. Personally, I use two or three cords per winter. This obviously depends on your home’s size, location and weather, and the type of wood you are using. Burning oak produces significantly more heat than softwood like pine or cedar. This needs to be considered when looking at the price per cord.
Buying premium hardwood like apple or mesquite in the most expensive states in the United States in the middle of winter can cost up to $600 per cord, however, this is an extreme example. Purchasing the type of wood widely available in your local area and buying it in summer can be half the cost you are paying per cord.
I also stockpile a separate supply of kindling that can be from a lower BTU wood but is easier to light. I will generally process this myself from fallen timber on my land as I don’t need as much volume. You can get different quantities of wood, often referred to as a half cord or face cord.
- A Half Cord is 1/2 of a Full Cord (64 cubic feet) and costs between $60 to $300.
- A Face Cord is 1/3 of a Cord (42 cubic feet) and costs between $40 to $200.
- A Rick of Wood is also known as a Face Cord which is 1/3 of a Cord (42 cubic feet).
Cost of Firewood by Type
The cost of each tree species can change significantly based on its availability, seasonality, and demand. High heat production hardwoods like oak are in high demand for its firewood properties, costing more than low BTU woods such as cedar. Because of their smell, wood that is desirable for smoking meats also demands a premium price, such as hickory or pecan. Trees primarily grown for their commercial uses also cost more because of their low supply, such as apple or maple.
A good practice is to calculate the cost per BTU – this allows you to estimate the amount you will be spending to keep your home warm. An example of this comparison is:
- Oak costs $300/cord with a BTU of 30 = $10/BTU
- Pine costs $200/cord with a BTU of 16 = $12.5/BTU
In this example, the pine firewood costs less per cord but 25% more per unit of heat produced.
The table below shows the average cost per cord for different types of fire and the costs per bundle.
|Type of Firewood||Cost of Cord||Cost of Bundle|
Cost of Firewood by Location
The cost of firewood also depends on your location. This is a supply and demand issue. The cost of firewood is lower in hotter states where firewood is not typically required, such as Florida, and there is more supply than demand. Wood is often more expensive in the northern states, where almost every home wants to purchase its own stockpiles.
The table below shows the average firewood cost per cord and per bundle for each state in the United States:
|State||Cost of Cord||Cost of Bundle|
When is the Best Time to Buy Firewood?
The best time to buy firewood is in summer. This is when demand is lowest, giving you several months to ensure that your wood is fully seasoned. I always recommend fully seasoning your firewood to ensure you get the highest heat production and minimize any smoke or creosote buildup. You should purchase a moisture meter to check that your wood is fully seasoned to get the most heat out of each cord (I use this Viking Moisture Meter).
Purchasing wood when winter is fast approaching is when firewood costs can increase rapidly as the demand starts to exceed demand. In my experience, firewood costs can double comparing winter to summer.
How to Find Inexpensive Firewood?
The best way to find cheap firewood is to process fallen trees yourself. Landowners will often allow you to come onto their properties and chop and split fallen trees into logs to clear the land. This only costs your time and sweat, and also means you can select the ideal tree species and split the wood into the ideal length and diameter. I always prefer to do this to stack it properly to minimize the seasoning time.
This approach also means you can access premium wood that rarely becomes available through the open market. Once you have built a relationship with landowners, you may even find rare hardwoods become available as trees like apple and mulberry naturally die. It is almost impossible to find commercially grown tree species available for firewood.
The cost of firewood can vary widely across the United States and between seasons. Understanding what tree species are available in your local area and the amount of heat they produce is an excellent start to reducing your heating costs. I also keep my ears open for naturally fallen trees that landowners want to get rid of – this is a win-win scenario for them and you. Processing fallen trees yourself is the most inexpensive way to build your firewood stockpile this winter.
If you have other tips for obtaining cheap firewood, please send me an email so I can share them with the audience.