Wood-burning furnaces are often placed outdoors, allowing homeowners to use space that would otherwise be occupied by heating equipment. Some people, particularly those in remote regions, benefit from being able to use wood instead of fossil fuels.
Wood-burning furnaces offer far greater energy efficiency than fireplaces. Since most of the heat is captured instead of lost through the chimney, they allow for more efficient use of wood. In addition, outdoor furnaces minimize the likelihood of dangerous combustion chemicals and particulate matter entering the home.
People in forested areas can also use nearby wood as fuel instead of having to purchase heating oil or have a gas connection installed, which can lead to savings. These saving can be significant, especially for homeowners in regions that are especially cold. Wood is also considered a renewable resource by many organizations, as the carbon burned wood releases is eventually reabsorbed if new trees are planted to replace those that were cut down.
However, wood-burning furnaces are not as efficient as oil- and gas-fueled furnaces, and the cost of transporting heavy wood can make these furnaces expensive. They also require regular maintenance, and the ash they generate must be disposed of safely. Wood-burning furnaces also release far more particulate matter than other types, which has led to laws banning the installation of new units in certain areas.