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Lowering energy cost: Consider firewood for home heating

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By Staff Brunswick Beacon

Many residents in the Cape Fear region are looking for ways to lower energy costs and may supplement their energy needs for heating by using firewood.

January and February are typically our coldest months for the winter. I am always looking for some good information to pass along to clients when I came across this information on firewood from John Church from the Rockford Extension Center, affiliated with the University of Illinois.

Now the firewood season is here, there are many questions about purchasing, burning, storing and selecting the wood, especially for novice wood buyers.

Firewood can be purchased from dealers and retail stores, or many people cut their own firewood. The cost of firewood can vary a great deal. The best practice is to call several suppliers to compare the cost, based on factors such as quantity, quality for desired use, delivery and their willingness to stack the wood.

Quantity is the first starting point for “comparison shopping.” Be sure to find out if the price is based on a cord, face cord, pickup truck load or some other amount.

A cord is a stack approximately 4-feet high, 4-feet deep and 8-feet long with pieces that are 4 inches or larger in diameter.

A face cord is a less precise standard measurement, but usually means a stack equal in height and length, but less in depth compared to a standard cord.

Pickup truck loads can vary the most. Be sure to ask if it is a full-size or small truck and if it is stacked to the top of the cab or just to the top of the box.

A standard, full size pickup truck, stacked to the top of the cab, can contain approximately a cord of wood. To the top of the box, such a truck can hold approximately 2/3 of a cord. A small-size pickup stacked to the top of the cab can hold about 1/2 of a cord and to the top of the box it can hold about 1/3 of a cord.

Quality is also a factor. Different types of wood have different characteristics, such as amount of heat, length of burn time, aroma, smoking, sparking and other differences. Fireplace users often prefer the aroma and desire less sparking, but are not as concerned about the heating value.

Wood stove or furnace owners look for high heat energy. Quality considerations also include the age or dryness of the wood and the internal condition of the firewood pieces, such as solid or decayed.

When shopping for firewood, also ask if the price includes stacking as well as delivery. Size of the firewood may also be a factor. Ideally, the pieces should be pre-cut to a few inches shorter than the firebox in which it will be burned.