It is more important than ever to focus your attention towards a more sustainable way of living. Not only will this be great for the environment, it is also great for your finances. The carbon footprint of heating homes in many develop countries can be as much as 20% of a nation’s total carbon footprint. This is a significant figure, which needs to be addressed.
Burning wood is a great way a household can take action and lead a more sustainable life. Many people still do not realize the benefits, both environmentally and financially that come with burning wood.
Wood Burning Stoves vs Open Fires:
When talking about burning wood, many people think about the traditional open fire. Although these can look wonderful in a home, they are very poor in terms of overall efficiency, when compared to a high efficiency wood burning stove.
According to Charlton & Jenrick a high efficiency wood burning stove, can have an efficiency of over 80%. This means 80% of the heat made by a stove, goes directly on heating a room.
In comparison, an open fire only has an efficiency of around 25%. This means 75% of heat made is wasted – usually disappearing up the chimney.
Essentially, when you burn wood on a wood burning stove, compared to burning on an open fire, you use less wood, for the same heat output. Saving you money and of course, having a lower environmental impact.
Wood burning stoves have become so efficient that the CO2 emitted by burning wood on one can actually be lower than the CO2 emitted, should the wood be left to rot on the floor of a woodland – doing our planet a favour.
We have established the environmental benefits of burning wood. However, it doesn’t stop there. Saving money is also an attractive feature of wood burning. The main reason for this is the fact you know exactly what you are using. Unlike with gas or electricity bills, there is no nasty surprises in the mail, telling you what you have spent. When you buy wood, you know exactly what you are using and you have already purchased the fuel in advance, so no surprise bills. The fact you have bought the fuel in advance will also probably make you more conservative about your fuel usage.
With gas and electricity it is all too easy to switch the heating on, you cant “see” the fuel you are using, and so many people can be more inclined to over-heat their home, or not think too much about the costs. Burning wood is not suitable for everyone, but for those who have the motivation, the savings on a financial and environmental basis can be considerable.
What is the Best Wood?
There is a wide range of wood ideal for burning on a stove. Below is a list of some of the best. Ensuring you use the correct wood is essential, as is ensuring it’s correctly seasoned (not too wet – or dry). Failure to consider such, can greatly reduce the efficiency of a fire, increase congestion in the chimney, which can cause a chimney fire, and also the chances of deadly carbon monoxide poisoning.
Ash – Ash is thought to be one of the best woods for burning. Ash produces a steady flame and a great heat output. Ash can be burnt when green as it has a low moisture content, but like with most wood burns at it’s very best when it is correctly seasoned.
Oak – Probably the best know wood for a range of reasons. It is a popular wood for furniture but also it makes great firewood. It burns very slowly and produces a steady flame. It burns best when seasoned for a very long time, usually over 2 years or more.
Beech – Beech burns very well, and is similar to ash. However, it does not burn well when green due to it’s much higher moisture content when live.
Hawthorn – Hawthorn has a slow burn rate, and an impressive general heat output.
Rowan – Also know as Mountain Ash. Similar to hawthorn, rowan has a very good heat output that burns slowly.
Thorn – This wood produces little smoke when being burnt, which makes it ideal where excessive smoke could be an issue.
Yew – Yew produces a slow burn and produces a fabulous, intense heat. Burning this type of wood also produces a nice smell. Yew is poisonous however so be careful!