Nicely stacked piles of firewood have been part and parcel of the American landscape for many centuries. The burning of wood fueled all our homes from the tepees and huts of the Native Americans to the Pilgrims of Massachusetts. However, as we entered the modern era, coal and then oil and gas took over much of the work of home heating.
Wood burning has enjoyed a resurgence over the last 30 years as more and more Americans have begun to understand the consequences and the cost of heating with imported oil and other fossil fuels. Wood burning stoves have been joined by their modern cousin, the Pellet Stove, which provides a more automatic and easier operation.
The stoves of today have changed greatly from the past. Modern technology has been used to design stoves which burn the wood much more cleanly - so clean, in fact, that little or no smoke exits the chimney! These stoves are much more efficient than the pot belly stoves of yesteryear, which means they heat more using less wood.
Wood and Pellet stoves come in many shapes, sizes and price ranges. In addition to the free standing stoves you may be familiar with, they are also models which are designed to build into a wall and finish off like a standard fireplace. There are even units which can go into a basement or shed and heat your entire home by circulation of heated air or water through your existing central heating system!
We hear a lot about the benefits of supporting local family farms, shopping local, walking and using our bicycles and other such environmental and community-building efforts. Responsible and clean burning wood burning allows you to Heat Local, while also saving you money and keeping you cozier than many other fuels. Both firewood and wood pellets are renewable fuels and come from close to home. Biomass used for home heating is but a tiny fraction of the yearly growth of the forest, so the use of firewood and pellets is fully sustainable.
Of course, wood burning is not for everyone. It takes a lot of work to cut, split and stack your firewood as well as to tend a stove. But a number of new innovations have made it easier for those of us who want to Heat Locally and not be the next Paul Bunyan! Pellet Stoves burn compressed wood pellets and feed themselves automatically. In fact, most of them even ignite themselves! You simply pour the pellets in from your bag and push the “start” button.
For those who want the more traditional wood stoves, there are also some simpler options to getting your chain saw fired up. Firewood is available at reasonable prices if you wish to purchase your yearly supply - just make certain that you buy early so it has more time to dry - dry wood burns better and cleaner. Another option are so-called Biomass Logs. These are pressed logs made from sawdust which can fuel most standard wood stoves. A common brand name is BioBrick. While firewood is purchased by the cord (4x4x8), Biomass Logs and Wood Pellets are sold by the ton. Larger quantities can be delivered right to your garage or shed, while smaller purchases can be picked up.
Sometimes there is no fuel like an old fuel. Wood is Good. Heat Locally!
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