Even though we have unseasonably warm air in our area through mid-week we are no doubt heading into the season of cold weather. If you haven’t fired up your fireplace or wood stove yet, you will be soon. Can you hear the crackle of the flames and smell the rich wood odor just thinking about it? Many of you are probably quite experienced at it and know how to best go about the business of burning wood. However this is a good oppurtunity to review tips from the experts on how to make wood buring as efficient, safe, affordable, and the least harmful to the environment as possible.
The EPA has put together a press release on such matters in their “Burn Wise” program. Below are some of the main points.
Burn only dry, seasoned wood. Properly seasoned wood burns hotter, producing more heat and less pollution. Seasoned wood is darker, has cracks in the end grain, and sounds hollow when struck against another piece of wood.
Use a moisture meter. Wood burns best when the moisture content is 20 percent. Purchase a wood moisture meter for less than $20 to test the moisture content of your wood before you burn it.
Burn hot fires. Once you’ve enjoyed the warmth, many people think they should let a fire smolder overnight, but reducing the air supply does little for heating and increases air pollution. A smoldering fire isn’t efficient.
Start fires with newspaper and dry kindling, or consider having a professional install a natural gas or propane log lighter or a catalyst device in your fireplace to reduce pollution and to increase efficiency.
Regularly remove ashes from your wood-burning appliance to maintain proper airflow. For safety, put ashes in a metal container with a cover and store outdoors.
Never burn painted or treated wood, wet or moldy wood, household garbage, cardboard or driftwood. The can release toxic chemicals into the air – and your home. During the holidays, remember not to burn Christmas trees or wrapping paper!
Upgrading to an EPA-certified wood stove or fireplace insert will make even bigger improvements in fire emissions and efficiency. These models are more efficient than older models, making the air cleaner, homes safer, and fuel bills lower, while still keeping warm in the winter.
Learn more on Burn Wise at www.epa.gov/burnwise
This post was written by Tony Schumacher on October 22, 2012