Using firewood to heat your home can be an economical option if you know how to choose the best wood and how to store it. When selecting wood, its best to see it yourself rather than purchase it online or over the phone. This will allow you to check the condition of the wood and ensure you're getting the high-quality product you're paying for. Here are some tips for choosing and storing firewood for your home:
Selecting The Best Tree Species For Heating Your Home
The moisture content and density of the wood is what determines how well it burns and how efficiently it will heat your home. Hardwoods can be more expensive than softwoods, but they burn for longer and generate more heat, so they tend to deliver the best value for money. Oak, beech, ironwood, and rock elm are ideal hardwoods for open fires and wood burning stoves during the winter. If you want to generate less heat during the spring and summer months, opt for pine, spruce and white birch logs. These softwoods won't heat your home as much as hardwood logs will and have a shorter burning time.
If you buy your firewood in bulk bags, you should decant the logs if you don't have an indoor space such as a garage to store them. The bags have breathing holes, so they're not waterproof, and if your logs get wet while in the bag they can become mouldy, as there won't be sufficient airflow for them to dry out. Store your logs under a waterproof tarpaulin or in a log storage shed, but use pallets or poles to keep them off the ground and prevent rot. Damp wood should never be stacked in with dry wood, and if you do have damp wood, stack the logs loosely to allow air to circulate and the wood to dry out.
Checking The Moisture Content Of Your Wood
Burning damp wood isn't economical, as it won't reach its optimum temperature. Depending on the species of wood, damp logs can also generate lots of smoke and spark more than dry logs. Here are a few ways to tell if your firewood is dry enough to burn well:
- If you bang two logs together and they sound hollow, the wood is dry. Logs with high moisture levels sound dull and heavy when banged together.
- Check the cracks on the ends of the logs. The more cracks, the drier the wood.
- Check the colour of the logs. As the logs dry out, the wood will darken and appear yellow or grey.
The amount of firewood you'll need to purchase each season will depend on the size of your home and whether you use any other form of heating, but your firewood supplier will be able to recommend a sufficient amount if you discuss your requirements with them.