Fortunately, for our forests and ecosystem,
wood as a heat source is not a feasible means for the masses. For
the few who are able and willing though, not only can wood be harvested
in a way which is beneficial to the environment, it can be done
very inexpensively as well. Here's how:
- If you don't already
have one, purchase a chainsaw
and process your own firewood. Commercially
purchased wood nearly always needs to be split smaller any way
for cleaner fires, is typically not cured as long as it should
be, and is often times needlessly harvested from national forests.
As a plus, cutting, hauling, splitting and stacking is nice exercise
and adds a new level of appreciation for embodied energy. That
wood will heat you at least four times before a match is lit!
photo depicts a very common scene anywhere there is development.
A winters worth of heat for an efficient home, these trees
await their ride to the landfill after being ripped out
of the ground & piled in a corner to make room for a
subdivision. Though the fate these trees have met is sad,
salvaging them was an excellent way to obtain a stored energy
that would have otherwise gone to waste in an overburdened
landfill. All it takes is a watchful eye and willingness
to ask. I found these less than 2 miles from my house.
- Get free wood by scrounging
for it locally. Innumerable amounts of wood goes
to the landfill or is burned in open fields due to development,
construction waste and natural causes.
Since 1992, I have only purchased firewood three times, due to
injuries preventing me from harvesting my own. Otherwise, I have
not paid for a single piece of firewood, driven more than 20 miles
to get it or cut a live tree down that wasn’t slated for
removal. Trees, lumber waste (as long as it’s
not laminated or treated) and pallets… free wood
abounds if you watch for it.
- Remember too that the smaller and more energy
efficient a home is, the less wood it'll take.
As a primary heat source, how inexpensive
can wood heating be? Based on a 4.5 month burn season over
26 years, and heating 1300 square feet at 43 degrees north latitude,
my monthly cost is approximately $9 per month, or about $41 per
year. This is accounting for the cost of my splitting maul, saw,
oil for saw, maintenance for saw and pickup, and gas for cutting
and hauling. I use 2.5 cords of wood each winter.