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Getting Ready for the Next Polar Blast

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Getting Ready for the Next Polar Blast

By any measure, we dodged a bullet this winter. It was mild in most regions of the U.S. What are the chances that Mother Nature will be as kind next year? The 2013 Farmers’ Almanac will be out in September to weigh in with our predictions, but now is actually the ideal time to get ready for next winter. It is almost like getting ready for Christmas, then sitting back with a smile while others scurry at the last moment.

If you use wood to help heat your home, this is actually the perfect time of the year to prepare. You can watch a couple of videos we made a few years ago on the subject: Firewood 101 and How to Season Firewood. I just took delivery of 2 cords and stacked it for a long drying summer. If you buy now – you will get “green” (wet) wood, but it will be at the best price. If you take delivery make sure you get a mix of hardwoods. Pay attention to what is or isn’t included. In fact, when shopping wood suppliers, ask for a breakdown of what is in their deliveries.

Here is a handy breakdown of wood species and approximate equivalent to gallons of fuel oil per cord air dried wood:

Hickory: 177 gallons
White Oak: 170 gallons
Sugar Maple: 155 gallons
Red Oak: 155 gallons
Beech: 149 gallons
Yellow Burch: 149 gallons
White Ash: 149 gallons
Red Maple: 136 gallons
White Birch: 130 gallons
Elm: 126 gallons
Gray Birch: 125 gallons
Poplar: 100 gallons

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One more consideration: Last fall, I came across Eco Bricks at Tractor Supply Stores. This is hardwood compressed into bricks and sold in packages of eight, or by the ton. They are dry, easy to handle and burn hotter and longer than logs, without the mess. It is worth investigating and maybe mixing with regular wood. If you have any firewood questions, toss them my way. It is one of my favorite topics.

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1 Carol Perry { 01.10.13 at 7:23 pm }

I have heard that you should have half of your year’s firewood left on February 1st. Does this sound right to you?

2 Joe FRanza { 08.17.12 at 7:15 pm }

4 yrs agi i purchased a pelle7 stove. I was and still am very impressed with it . The average cost of a pellet is abt $300 with delivery. My stove is thermostat controled with 3 fan speeds.I try tp keep it sat at 68 drg, unless it gets realy cold, at night i turn it down. I burn a bag of pellets over the course of 18 to 20 hours.I maintain the stove every 2 days just to clean out the burning area and remove the ash, very easy to do , takes abt 5 minutes. NEVER open the door till yr stove has cooled . Clean the front glass with paper towel and a mild glass cleaner.
Enjoy yr stove its gonna be a colddddddd winter

3 Peter Geiger { 05.01.12 at 8:48 pm }


Great questions. I am impressed that you have the energy to cut, split and stack 4 – 5 cords of firewood. One option is to get wood already cut/ split for you stove – more money but less work. A friend who has a pellet stove. He says the advantages are convenience (buy pellets by the ton) and 40 lb bags. But, The btu is not as good a hard wood . A pellet stove does not work if you lose electricity. There are differences in the quality of stoves – shop carefully.

I’d also suggest looking at the eco bricks I get from Tractor Supply. The can be bought by the ton and burn hotter than regular wood with less ash and no mess. This is my take.

4 citizen montag { 04.27.12 at 8:25 pm }

I like the idea of a oil/wood comparison chart but, here in the PNW we have none of those species of wood. How about one for alder,fir, doug fir, ect.? Had a lot of alder and maple fall in this years windstorms. The maple here isn’t nearly as hard as in the east. I am curious how it stacks up (ar ar) statistically. Thanks,

5 brenda { 04.27.12 at 4:59 pm }

I know this sounds completely off from what this is about and i was looking over some stuff and i came to finding out it was the winter of 2000 when we had our warmest winter on record! So we actually did have some winter. January was alot colder than normal for a stretch then we had 11 inches of snow here in VA in February. So this winter wasent really “the winter that wasent” if you think about it. yes we were milder than normal but think about the freakish cold snaps dumping snow just about everywhere. it was a quick winter. After February left old man winter was never seen again. Maybe next winter we will have to use those wood stoves more often

6 Bob Mann { 04.27.12 at 10:41 am }

Good Morning Peter

I have been burning wood in wood stoves and a wood boiler when I lived at home as a kid, and I have been burning wood in a wood stove for my own house for 25 yrs. I have a 3 bed room ranch house with a partially finished basement. The Wood stove is on the unfinished side of the basement. I typically use about 4-5 cords of wood per year to heat my house. Except for the coldest of nights (below zero) the wood stove comfortably heats my house. On the nights when the stove cannot keep up, I use the oil, hot water heating system to supplement the wood stove.
I purchase the wood in log length and cut and split the wood myself. I find it to be good exercise. For the past 3 yrs I have paid $110 per cord of wood. I believe cut & split wood is approximately $200 – $250 per cord in my area.

Last year I was at a local art festival and was looking at pellet stoves. Seeing as I am getting a bit older, I was considering switching to a pellet stove.

Your thoughts? Comments?

Thank you for your assistance.

Bob Mann

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