The Cost of Wood as a fuel

The Cost of Wood as a fuel

For the best results, wood should be left on a dry surface protected from rain but with the sides exposed to air and wind. It should be stacked not piled which will speed up the drying process. Chopping the wood down to size before storing it will also help it to dry quicker. Alternatively, you can buy ready-seasoned wood at a little extra cost. Remember , burning wet wood is the quickest way to a chimney going on fire!! so its wise to use a firewood moisture meter to ensure it is below 20%.

  • Freshly cut logs are cheap to buy at around £80 per cubic meter but have a moisture content between 60% and 90%. The heat output from freshly cut logs will be around 1 kWh per kg.
  • Ready-seasoned wood has around 40% moisture content and can usually be purchased for around £95 – £123 per cubic meter. Burning wood that has been seasoned will give you a heat output of about 3 kWh per kg.
  • Alternatively kiln-dried wood is more expensive, about £115-£145 per cubic meter but is highly efficient and can be used immediately. On average, it contains less than 20% moisture and burning it produces a heat output of around 4.5 kWh per kg.
  • If you have a specialised wood-pellet stove, you can usually buy wood pellets online or from a local supplier. Wood pellets are sold by the tonne and cost around £140-£190 per cubic tonne. The Stove Industry Alliance (SIA) recommends that you buy ENplus standard pellets, which have roughly 10% moisture content and will give you a heat output of around 5 kWh per kg.

Kindling can be sourced from pallets used for building suppliers and found in skips (just check with the owners first).It’s also worth considering if whether the wood has been treated with chemicals because it could be unsafe to burn.Also please remember to remove all nails.

Note: 500kg is around one cubic meter, so working out how much wood will cost for the amount you’ll use can be a little tricky. However, as a rough guide an average-sized house which uses a stove in the evenings and at weekends, will need about three to four cubic meters a year.

Although wood itself is considered a carbon-neutral fuel, transporting it uses CO2, so it’s best to try and find a supplier close to home.

Things the customer should consider burning wood when it comes to sweeping

  1. You should only burn seasoned HARD woods, the moisture content (easily checked with a cheap and commonly available moisture meter) should be less than 20%, ideally 15%.
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  2. The soot particles from burning wood are very often extremely reduced in size and akin to plant pollen. This means it can be very difficult to control the extraction of the residue because they form a floating cloud.
    Any change in air flow (e.g. opening of room doors or windows) during the extraction process can result in the escape of particles from the fireplace.
    Hence it is suggested that all immediate items around the fire are removed and suitable covers for furniture e.t.c. are put in place (using common sense) by the customer prior to the sweeping appointment.

Moisture Meters

Moisture Meters

A firewood moisture meter is perhaps the most important stove tool for helping you to get the most out of your stove.

Your firewood moisture meter can help you make sure that you are getting well seasoned wood. Although there are many firewood suppliers out there who know their business and when they say that their firewood is well seasoned it is. You may well find that some of these more professional firewood suppliers are booked solid; so you should try to get your orders in with them over the summer. Your firewood moisture meter will help to confirm that their wood is well seasoned and let you gauge exactly how well seasoned it is. Conversely; there are also firewood suppliers out there who supply firewood, claiming it is seasoned, when in fact it is far from it.

Without a moisture meter the first you may know that their wood is not dry enough may well be when you notice that your wood burning stove isn’t giving out much if any heat at all and that the window is getting tarred up.  It doesn’t just stop there;  burning unseasoned wood will tar up your chimney (increasing the risk of chimney fires) as well as reducing the life of your wood burning stove, liner and/or chimney flue itself. Burning unseasoned wood is inefficient and results in high levels of particulates, which is bad for your health and often makes NASTY problems for your chimney sweep.
In terms of how much heat you get out of your wood stove, the moisture content of your firewood is probably the single most important thing to consider, (the moisture in the wood has to be boiled off before you get the expected kilowatt per hour rating-which is based on dry wood) which is why a firewood moisture checker is so important.

Firstly it makes sense to check with the supplier what type of firewood you are getting (see wood burning properties here (Wood Burning Properties), it may be well seasoned, or the supplier may give you an assessment of the dryness of the wood anywhere from freshly processed to partly dry. If you have a firewood moisture meter then you can tell exactly how wet the firewood logs are, although of course there will be other tell-tale signs i.e. no cracks in the end grain and a ‘wet’ smell.

Buying Wood

Next time you get a firewood delivery take out your firewood moisture meter and before your supplier unloads, grab a couple of logs, split them in half with your axe or hatchet and take a couple of moisture readings. If the firewood is well seasoned then it should have a moisture content of 20% or lower, a few logs at around 25% isn’t too bad as long as most of the load is under that.

                                     testing firewood moisture
                                                Picture 1: Moisture meter 
To take a moisture reading, all you need to do is push the two pins into your chosen piece of firewood. As you can see above, this piece of firewood is at 17% moisture which is ideal. You should aim for around 16-17% moisture for firewood which is easy enough to achieve.

If the firewood is a lot wetter than this, then it is not actually seasoned firewood; it’s just a load of wet chopped logs that will one day be seasoned firewood after you have dried & seasoned them yourself 🙁 . If after having used your firewood moisture meter the wood turns out to be wet and the supplier is claiming that it is well seasoned, you should either pay less for the wood and store it up until it is dry, or send it back.

It is possible that some firewood suppliers are not aware of the issues, or do not know how to properly season wood for wood burning stoves.
They often come armed with a multitude of freshly prepared stories to get you to accept their unseasoned wood and might say that freshly felled wood is “Ok to burn straight away” (this is incorrect !! ) or that it has been a wet winter and it had been hard to season the firewood logs properly. However,  seasoning firewood properly and then delivering  it, is basically their job description and you should hold fast against accepting these fairytales.  

 Seasoning your own wood

You can also use the firewood moisture meter to see how well your firewood is seasoning, which stacking techniques work best, etc. When you are processing and seasoning a lot of firewood it really makes sense to do it in the most effective way possible. For example, it is possible using a small, a single log thick, stack of firewood on a south facing section of wall to drop the moisture from around 55% when first felled, to around 17% in around 4 months!

To take an exact moisture reading you need to measure the moisture on the inside of your piece of firewood: the firewood will be drier on the outside where the wind and sun have had their effects. So split a piece of firewood down the middle, push the two pins on the end of the moisture meter into one of the freshly split faces of the wood (not the end grain and not the outside faces of the wood) , ideally near where the middle of the piece was before you split it and press the On button. The moisture reading will appear on the screen as a percentage.
Just an example you can find Stihl Wood Moisture Meter Customer Reviews on Amazon here > http://www.amazon.co.uk/product-reviews/B004NQ0RL4
Remember as linked to in paragraph 3 above some wood burning properties can be see here in another of our wood category posts here. (Wood Burning Properties)

 

Scottish Independence

Scottish Independence

It is no secret that Scotland has wished for independence for many years now. Whether you want it or not, it will be decided in the polls (or elsewhere?) tomorrow. We live in exciting times but regardless of whichever way the voting goes; no doubt there is bound to be at least a little chaos.

If we do attain our FREEDOM and SAOR ALBA becomes SOAR ALBA one thing is for sure, the celebration parties will be the stuff of legends. The event going down in history as the single most important thing to occur here in many years. So fellow scots wherever you may be i hope we get the right outcome and the parties are amazing. 🙂

What is HETAS?

 What is HETAS?

  1. You can find the HETAS site here HETAS UK
  2. Their facebook page is here : HETAS UK on Facebook

HETAS  are now the official body recognised by the government to approve biomass, solid fuel domestic heating appliances, fuels and services including registration of competent installers and servicing businesses. One could liken them to the gas safety register which used to be known as the corgi register.

HETAS Objectives

  • Promote and watch continuous improvement in the safe installation and use of solid fuel appliances, systems, chimneys, flues and in their maintenance.
  • Encourage continual improvement of products and promote high standards of quality, design, safety and efficiency.
  • Lead the industry in updating & maintaining uniform standards of education. Training at all levels to make sure safe, efficient installation and use of solid fuels, systems & appliances.
  • Working with stakeholders to promote to the wider industry and its customers the means & benefits of achieving the safe, efficient use of solid fuels. The raising of standards & encouraging advice and guidance to solid fuel users.
  • Influence legislation, regulations, policies (national & international levels) that affect the use of solid fuel & solid fuel appliances, systems, related products and services.
  • Ensuring that HETAS is seen as offering an understandable and secure route through safety standards and relevant regulation in support of our organisational purpose.
    
    

    STOVES
    England and Wales

    The current situation in England and Wales now means all stove installations are subject to document J of the building regulations available. here: Document~J building regulations

    The HETAS association could be described as the Solid Fuel Associations equivalent to what used to be known as the Corgi register and is now known as the Gas Safety Register for gas fitters. HETAS cover all installation work on domestic solid fuel, wood, biomass and their associated systems which are subject to Building Regulations e.g.  heating, hot water and controls etc. The approved building documents F, J, L, G, P are applicable and most work is notifiable to the relevant Local Authority. The information notified is required for household insurance and the future sale of properties.
    Where work is carried out by a HETAS Registered Installer they can self-certificate their work via HETAS and save the customer applying for a Building Notice from their Local Authority. The HETAS route can save a lot of money and time for consumers and gives registered businesses an opportunity to charge a fair fee for a professional installation, including the notification process.

    Scotland

    Scottish Ministers are responsible for Building Regulations Standards in Scotland with the key purpose of protecting the public interest, creating building regulations and preparing technical guidance to make sure buildings are safe, efficient and sustainable for all. Technical Handbooks have now been consolidated to include publication errata and the changes brought about by the Building (Scotland) Amendment Regulations 2011.
    These versions now include the new Section 7: Sustainability alongside minor changes to the technical guidance are available from the building regulations standards section.

    Standards

    There are many British Standards and European Standards. see here: HETAS Professional standards
    These apply to both the solid fuel and biomass industry and affect everything you do on a daily basis. Many of these are referenced in the HETAS Guide, the HETAS Technical Handbook and throughout the range of HETAS training manuals.
    To assist the industry HETAS has pulled together the latest set of standards along with quick links to each of the Standards on the BSI website where they can be purchased.

    So how does this affect me in Scotland?

    HETAS are the up and coming body who will eventually standardise the installations of stoves in the UK. However, at the moment the regulations they follow are NOT enforced in Scotland , so sadly many “cowboys” are now in the stove game. We regularly come across installations that might be cheap but are seriously sub standard. This can not only make our job more of a challenge (sometimes impossible) but also these installations are dangerous to yourself and your property. Also, many of their recommended stoves are cheap imports from China .. so remember: If you pay peanuts you get monkeys. In the age of “freedom of choice” the onus is on you to do your research and choose wisely.

Hello and welcome to T.Reid. Chimney Sweeping Services

Hello and welcome to our new website, we hope you enjoy using it and that we can be of service to you whether by using our physical services or just using the site itself for information about all things related to modern-day chimney sweeping. You can surf the pages by using the links along the top of the site. You will find more useful information in the posts page where we try to share as much information as we can about the trade.