The following article was written by The Spanner Man
Biomass i.e. burning materials like wood, forest residues (branches, wood chips, dead tress, branches, tree stumps), and rubbish is one way to generate heat in our homes. In the North of the UK the use of domestic biomass is becoming more and more popular, with sales of wood and multi fuel stoves at an all-time high.
When it comes to purchasing wood for this purpose, things get a little bit complicated. All the other fuels are sold in units: cubic meters, kilowatts, weight or litres. Wood can be sold by weight or volume. To further muddy the waters, different wood has different properties to consider. Hard wood burns longer than soft wood, but soft wood is very good to start a fire. Wood contains approximately 40% – 60% moisture (water). Buying by weight is only relevant when you know what type of wood you are purchasing. Another factor to consider is whether it is seasoned (dried out over time) or Kiln dried. Consequently, it is better to know how much you are paying per cubic metre or cubic foot.
Currently, the Worth & Aire valleys we can pay as much as 6.01 pounds per cubic foot and as little as 2 pounds per cubic foot for wood, often sold in netted bags. The best thing to do is to buy in bulk if you can and keep it dry before you burn it.
Make sure your wood/multi fuel burner is in good condition and that the doors and vents can be shut off and sealed properly. This is the most efficient way to control the rate of wood you burn per hour and the heat out put. The fire grate should be clean and the flue mustn’t leak. As with a central heating boiler, which should be serviced annually, a stove and its flue should also be serviced annually. Leaky stoves, that is uncontrolled air ingress, use more fuel and do not burn at the correct temperature.
The golden rules for getting the best out of a biomass or multi fuel stove:
1. Make sure the stove is in good working order.
2. If it’s broken or leaking at all get it fixed before using it!
3. Buy as much wood as you can store in a dry place, let it dry out as long as you can before burning it.
4. Summer wood prices are usually cheaper plan ahead and purchase in advance of the winter months.
5. Make sure your house is sealed and insulated as much as possible.
We all know that the cost of heating is going up whatever type of fuel we choose. Understand how you are purchasing your fuel and what unit of measurement is being applied. Shop around and ask for a bulk discount.
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