Choosing an efficient wood fireplace comes with many advantages. The first benefit relates to economy and lowering your normally high heating bills. By using the right type of wood and adding a blower to your wood fireplace, you can easily heat your home without paying outrageous prices.
While a gas fireplace is an option that many people are turning to, when you go this route, you lose the even burn and aesthetics associated with burning wood. Bringing in your favorite wood and lighting it, produces a magnificent ambience that cannot be matched by any other type of fireplace, no matter how realistic the gas logs might be.
When using a wood-burning fireplace, you can do several things to ensure you get the most efficiency out of the wood. These things are easy and they work:
By following these few simple steps, you can improve on efficiency by 50% or more. That means that those cold winter nights will be warm and cozy and that the numbers on the monthly heating bill will go down.
- Buying Wood Make sure the wood is dry. Keep in mind that green wood contains up to 50% of its mass in water. Therefore, when trying to burn it, you are actually trying to burn water. This means that you need to cut the wood ahead of time so it has time to dry out. The other problem with trying to burn green woods is that it emits higher levels of creosote than what you would get from dry wood. Creosote is what builds up in the chimney, creating a very dangerous scenario when you light a fire. The key then is cutting the wood one full year before you burn it. The problem that most people run into is that they cringe at putting out the money and not enjoying the wood. You need to think of wood buying as an investment that will create a more efficient and safe fire for you and your family.
- Drying Wood Whether you store your wood, always make sure it stays dry. This can be done by placing the wood on a good tarp and then placing another tarp over the woodpile. This way, the wood on the bottom is protected from the wet ground while the upper part of the woodpile is protected from rain and snow.
- Stacking Wood Most people stack wood by piling it in rows from end to end. However, when you do this, the wood in the middle of the woodpile cannot dry out because it receives no air circulation. Therefore, make smaller piles so all the wood can be aired out before being used. Obviously, a woodshed would be the perfect choice but if stacked properly, a tarp will do the job.
- Quality Wood Just as the old cliché goes, Garbage in, Garbage out. It is the same with your fireplace wood. If you burn cheap wood, you will not be getting the best fire for your money. Therefore, choose the best wood you can. Remember, not all woods burn the same. For instance, hickory burns much hotter than tepid burns. As you shop around for wood, be sure to ask the sellers that type of wood they offer and always ask their interpretation of seasoned wood. Was the wood dried during one winter season or a full year? Obviously, you want the full year as mentioned earlier. Additionally, give some thought to the characteristics of the wood in relation to cutting and splitting.
- Fireplace Upgrade If you have a stove rather than an actual masonry fireplace and it is older than 1994, for both efficiency and safety reasons, you need to upgrade it to ensure it meets the EPAs emission control standard. While this is an initial investment, the benefits are huge. The stove will have better airflow, be insulated better, while cutting down on particulate emissions.