This week’s warm spell might have given the winter woodpile a break, but earlier cold blasts may have some wood supplies running a littler lower than expected by now.
It can be nearly impossible to find dry or seasoned wood in winter and approximately 38 percent of Vermonters heat in full or in part with wood.
The Vermont Agency of Natural Resources offers suggestions to help stretch what’s left of a woodpile through spring.
• Consider replacing an old, inefficient wood stove with a new model. New EPA certified stoves can be up to 70 percent more efficient than older versions. Not sure if a stove is EPA certified? If it’s pre-1990, look up the model and serial number. A local stove dealer can help.
Consider a pellet stove which looks and functions much like wood stoves but burns wood pellets instead of cord wood. Pellets are readily available in bag and in bulk and are ready to burn when purchased.
• Consider purchasing kiln-dried wood. While most firewood is dried outdoors for six to12 months, kiln-dried wood is dried in two days and thus is available throughout the season. It is dried much more thoroughly and evenly than outdoor drying can achieve. Kiln-dried wood can also be heat-treated, making it bug free and safe to store indoors. It is more expensive than wood dried outside, but can be well worth the investment.
• Plug up drafts. It’s not too late to consider making basic efficiency improvements around your home such as caulking, insulating outlets, investing in heavy curtains, and sealing drafty windows with plastic sheeting. The same steps used to keep oil and propane bills down can be used to help stretch wood fuel. Check out buttonupvermont.org and efficiencyvermont.com for ideas.
• Low-income Vermonters can apply for assistance. Cord wood and wood pellets are both eligible fuels in the Vermont Low Income Heating Assistance Program. Information on how to apply: Department of Children and Families Benefit Center, 1-800-479-6151;www.dcf.vermont.gov/benefits/fuel-assistance.
• Finally, do not burn green wood. It may be tempting, but never burn green wood in your stove or fireplace.
Green wood burns less efficiently. Energy is wasted evaporating moisture out of the green wood before it can combust. That same piece of firewood will give you more bang for your buck if you hold onto it until next year.
Green wood puts a home at risk for a chimney fire by producing creosote, which can line a chimney and catch fire.
Burning green wood is also bad for both indoor and outdoor air quality. The smoldering fire produced by green wood creates excessive amounts of particulate matter, which is harmful to your health.
Learn more at healthvermont.gov/environment/climate/winter-weather.