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Author Topic: Heating our homes from now on  (Read 2371 times)

Fleecewife

  • Joined May 2010
  • South Lanarkshire
    • ScotHebs
Re: Heating our homes from now on
« Reply #30 on: September 19, 2021, 11:50:53 am »
I agree with you @Kiran and what you have done to your house will be of great benefit.  I don't really understand why wood burning stoves are so vilified now, except that it's a propaganda stance so that government supported schemes will be promoted as the best way forward.  As you say, properly seasoned wood, especially that we have grown ourselves for the purpose, coppiced so we don't have to replant, is an efficient system and does not produce vast clouds of CO2.  Were we to scrap all existing wood burners and replace with a new system, whichever is currently in vogue, then that in itself would create a mass of greenhouse gases and use virgin metals and power to process them. Don't replace it if it's not broken.


It's like with grass pastured livestock grazers which are accused of being a major cause of Climate Change, but that is true only in certain circumstances such as animals kept in unnatural conditions: indoors all year round, kept on feedlots in the US system, and fed on grain.  Our livestock in the British system live outdoors year round with minimal grain supplements if any, and any methane they produce will tend to be sequestered by the grass and trees around their fields. Some cattle are kept indoors over the winter months so as not to damage pasture - research could readily come up with a methane capture scheme for that situation, but the tendency to ape America and use the feedlot system here cannot be good in any way except profits.
There is NO planet B - what are YOU doing to save our home?

Do something today that your future self will thank you for - plant a tree

 Love your soil - it's the lifeblood of your land.

Anke

  • Joined Dec 2009
  • St Boswells, Scottish Borders
Re: Heating our homes from now on
« Reply #31 on: September 19, 2021, 12:13:05 pm »
Wood burners generate lots of airborne particles, which are possibly worse than the particles from diesel fumes (in times gone by or from old cars). So if loads more people are using wood burners in cities, and using badly or unseasoned wood than that will cause problems re asthma etc. However in a rural setting that is highly unlikely. So I see why some cities are going to be prohibiting burning wood, but it is not going to happen outside the large cities.


We heat our house almost entirely from our multi fuel stove (but have to buy in air-dried wood from a local supplier, cut and dried locally, we supplement with our own bits and pieces of seasoned wood, but would never have enough), hot water and any supplementary heating from oil fired boiler (house built in 2006). We do not like the idea of underfloor heating, and there is not enough sunshine (or in our case south-facing roof area) in Scotland to reliably heat the water and the house with fancy PV panels. And I absolutely love my fire, I am one of the few people who actually looks forward to autumn/winter - I can put the fire on!


Our neighbours spent a furtune a few years ago to install their solar roof panels and got reasonable amounts of money back - until the converter broke just as they had come out of warranty... so now back to square one. I am very wary of even thinking about an air-source (or ground one) heat pump... in case of what can (and does) go wrong with them.

arobwk

  • Joined Nov 2015
  • Kernow in October: reclaimed !
Re: Heating our homes from now on
« Reply #32 on: September 19, 2021, 06:12:37 pm »
I have to sit on the fence as regards wood burners: I do not have a wood burning stove, but I do have a D7 waste exemption for burning waste in the open (and I do that - leaving the trash to really dry out first)).
What I don't get (for folk who have other options) is the hassle wood-burner owners seem to accept.  My next-door city neighbours have very recently installed one, with scaffolded chimney mod's to enable, now requiring movement of many kilos of wood fuel around the terrace's rear alley routinely);  my opposite neighbours also have one, requiring a large off-load on their garage forecourt and many movements to their log store. 

Seasoned wood for burning is not cheap so I don't "get it".  Anyone prepared to educate me ?



Glencairn

  • Joined Jun 2017
  • Dumfriesshire
Re: Heating our homes from now on
« Reply #33 on: September 19, 2021, 06:29:03 pm »
We only had stoves fitted because we had come from a very thermally efficient home heated by mains gas that in retrospect was really very warm during winter.

To a 19th century draughty house, with an open fire, heated by oil fired central heating. Most of my neighbours have night storage heaters.

The way we tend to operate is to use the central heating for a couple of hours to take the chill off, then light the stove early evening and then the heating can be switched off.

Its only really a viable alternative if you have access to free wood. If you are in the unfortunate position where you are buying in kiln dried stuff from some artisan wood supplier, then I suspect you would be better off simply using the heating more instead.

Kiran

  • Joined Apr 2019
Re: Heating our homes from now on
« Reply #34 on: September 19, 2021, 07:14:01 pm »

Seasoned wood for burning is not cheap so I don't "get it".  Anyone prepared to educate me ?

If you are buying seasoned wood in by the jumbo bag then I'd agree to degree, at current purchase prices there are cheaper and more convenient ways to heat if you are on mains gas for example.

 It wasnt so long ago that you could get the renewable heat incentive on certain log burners too. To me the whole thing stinks a bit of moving the goals to suit those who make the rules. Go back a bit and modern diesels were the best thing since sliced bread, then fast forward a few years. All those who wanted to buy a low emission engine car expecting to pay 30/year tax have been told that for 5 years they have to pay 160/year even if the only thing that comes out of their exhaust is butterflies! All because the tax revenues weren't being generated.

Anyway, back to heating with wood....

So I have a few sources that I use for heating logs, all of them require forward planning, this is where people need to change their mindset and not expect to be able to buy to day and put in the stove tomorrow.

My sources are my own land being cleared, dead growth or storm damage, clearance from construction projects and I have a local tree surgeon who drops logs and wood chip round. I process, store and season all of mine so i know that it's ready to burn when i need it. My last house was on mains gas and for the 2 last years i lived there my gas bill was only for the hot water used and virtually nothing on hearing.

I've only ever bought 1 load of firewood and I wouldn't do it again as it was certainly not seasoned as advertised. Chalk that one up to naivety but I wont get caught again.

The tell tale sign that I'm burning clean is the minimal amount of ash and soot when I clean the stove or flue.

Also the way you build the fire makes a difference too, I tend to burn top down fires so air is dragged through the fire wood making sure absolutely everything is dry before it burns.
« Last Edit: September 21, 2021, 05:59:06 am by Kiran »

macgro7

  • Joined Feb 2016
  • Leicester
Re: Heating our homes from now on
« Reply #35 on: September 19, 2021, 09:22:48 pm »
My uncle uses old chairs and pallets to Hest his house - every time he sees some wood around when driving he picks it up at takes home  :innocent:
Growing loads of fruits and vegetables! Raising dairy goats, chickens, ducks, rabbits on 1/2 acre in the middle of the city of Leicester, using permaculture methods.

Fleecewife

  • Joined May 2010
  • South Lanarkshire
    • ScotHebs
Re: Heating our homes from now on
« Reply #36 on: September 20, 2021, 01:34:28 am »
How exactly does kiln drying work?  There must be some input of power and output of gases somewhere along the line.  This would mean that someone is nonetheless producing gases and using heat to make the wood people buy in for their wood burners low carbon, but for the end burner only.  I hadn't thought of that properly before.


We were lucky enough that when some full-grown beech trees came down in a storm, our neighbour kindly said we could have the branches as he only wanted the main trunks.  That wood has lasted us 2 years, having been seasoned by us here for a year first, and this winter we will use up the last of that, three years in total.  Then we will be relying as much as possible on our own production. When I chose the trees to plant here it was with coppicing in mind, to be a renewable source of wood for heating, also for bean poles etc for the garden, and incidentally as winter forage for the sheep.  The big blockage has turned out to be that my husband really hates cutting down trees, not the work but the act of cutting down a tree, even when he can see that they regrow really quickly from the stool.  So we have trees which could have been cut for firewood several years ago and they would have regrown nearly enough to crop again by now, but there they stand, beautiful yes, but not doing the job for which I bought them. MEN  ::)   I was brought up next to an ancient woodland which was routinely coppiced for as long as it has existed, so coppicing is second nature to me. In fact few people where I live now seem to understand about coppicing and hedging and the regrowth which follows.  It's so much better than clear felling then replanting.
There is NO planet B - what are YOU doing to save our home?

Do something today that your future self will thank you for - plant a tree

 Love your soil - it's the lifeblood of your land.

chrismahon

  • Joined Dec 2011
  • Gascony, France
Re: Heating our homes from now on
« Reply #37 on: September 20, 2021, 09:37:25 am »
I would expect kiln drying to be a combination of heating and dehumidifying. 20% of the moisture content is in sealed cells- seasoning 'rots' the wood so the cells split and the water can then evaporate. If you raise the temperature to 60C the cells split (our experiment) and the wood is 'seasoned' but then needs drying out.


It must be difficult to produce dry wood any other way in the UK because of the inherent air humidity.


Here wood is sold seasoned but not dry, so you need to order it early Summer, stack it under cover facing South and let the sun, heat and humidity do the rest. It is sold by the 'stere', which for logs one metre long would be a cubic metre. If you have shorter lengths, so 50cm or 33cm, the volume occupied when stacked is smaller. It is certainly not sold by weight, as you could then be paying for the water content.


The small amount of timber we get here is stacked uncovered on the West side to catch the wind. We leave it two years and then stack it under cover at the end of Summer when it is dry. But this year Summer was the wettest we've had so it's had to be open stacked under cover first to get air through it to dry. We've found wet wood quickly blocks the flue so that means more frequent sweeping. House insurance won't pay out for chimney fires, so it's down to the owner to avoid them and maintain the fire and flue correctly.

Fleecewife

  • Joined May 2010
  • South Lanarkshire
    • ScotHebs
Re: Heating our homes from now on
« Reply #38 on: September 20, 2021, 01:11:23 pm »
<< you need about 600-750 kWh or so to dry oak from green and at 12 cents per kWh (including demand and usage; maybe too low), that would be$75 right there per MBF.>>

A random figure from the internet (not sure what MBF is). I have a sneaky feeling that electricity is rather more expensive in the UK.  Also the type of kiln must affect the cost.  There is a solar powered kiln available, not sure it's in the UK though, but in Scotland that is likely to be not the most successful option. Then of course there's transport costs of the dried wood.
My point is that if you're using kiln dried wood then there is an extra environmental and power cost above the obvious one of the purchase price per measure of wood.

Thank you @chrismahon for the physics of drying wood - that's fascinating.

We have occasionally bought kiln dried wood produced locally but only when our own isn't ready, but I'm not happy about the additional inherent costs to the environment.  The more of our own wood we can use the better.  We stack our wood initially covered outdoors, where the wind can whistle through for a year or two, then it's chopped and stored under cover in an open fronted shed where the wind can again pass through the stack, and the sun gets to it for part of the day.  Given that our neighbour burns piles of old tyres, black plastic and so on on a bonfire, and uses the cheapest smelliest coal for his fire, our wood burner is above reproach  ;D   I must admit though that the current attitude to wood burners makes me feel a bit guilty for using one......
« Last Edit: September 20, 2021, 01:14:22 pm by Fleecewife »
There is NO planet B - what are YOU doing to save our home?

Do something today that your future self will thank you for - plant a tree

 Love your soil - it's the lifeblood of your land.

arobwk

  • Joined Nov 2015
  • Kernow in October: reclaimed !
Re: Heating our homes from now on
« Reply #39 on: September 20, 2021, 05:22:25 pm »
Overall -  "I rest my case m'lud"
[Of course, scavenging or long storage of waste/harvested wood for natural seasoning has to be a good thing, reducing use of fossil fuels.]
« Last Edit: September 20, 2021, 05:25:15 pm by arobwk »

Fleecewife

  • Joined May 2010
  • South Lanarkshire
    • ScotHebs
Re: Heating our homes from now on
« Reply #40 on: September 20, 2021, 05:49:14 pm »
Overall -  "I rest my case m'lud"
[Of course, scavenging or long storage of waste/harvested wood for natural seasoning has to be a good thing, reducing use of fossil fuels.]

Don't folk who live on smallholdings expect to do things the long way anyway?
As for those in towns, they will just fork out for kiln dried and not have the bother (the delivery men usually stack the wood, or so my son tells me)
« Last Edit: September 21, 2021, 01:11:14 pm by Fleecewife »
There is NO planet B - what are YOU doing to save our home?

Do something today that your future self will thank you for - plant a tree

 Love your soil - it's the lifeblood of your land.

Kiran

  • Joined Apr 2019
Re: Heating our homes from now on
« Reply #41 on: September 21, 2021, 06:24:01 am »
Overall -  "I rest my case m'lud"
[Of course, scavenging or long storage of waste/harvested wood for natural seasoning has to be a good thing, reducing use of fossil fuels.]

If you have a small wood stove and it is essentially just a feature and you use a second heat source more than the wood stove then I agree, there is a considerable  amount of effort involved.

We use oil and typically in the winter the boiler fires up for hot water and very occasionally a small amount of heat into the house. Pre rona everyone was out of the house, there would be a small burn of the heating as people came home and then the wood stove kept the house warm. Likewise the weekend  stove on in the morning and the fire stays in for the day. The heating in the house is zoned and in theory if an area of the house dropped the heating could kick in and top up that area although this doesnt usually happen so it isnt a case of having a boiling house in one area and freezing in the other areas. The Honeywell system has probably saved me in oil the cost of my stove to date. The first year we were here we used, and probably wasted, so much.

My wife has been working from home since the first lockdown and our heating bill would have skyrocketed without the wood supply to fall back on (she doesn't do being cold). So it also lessens our financial risk and insulates you from potentially volatile markets as with the gas at the moment.

chrismahon

  • Joined Dec 2011
  • Gascony, France
Re: Heating our homes from now on
« Reply #42 on: September 28, 2021, 10:55:26 am »
On the news earlier was the announcement that natural gas prices are going up again in France. So that's 10% earlier in the year, 8% on the 1st September and now 12.6% on the 1st October. That works out (they said) to a total year increase of a staggering 44%.


So the original subject "Heating our homes from now on"- we probably can't. The practice here years ago was to close off most parts of the house and leave them unheated. Water carrying pipework was then isolated and drained to protect from freezing. This could mean moving your bed into the kitchen?
.

Fleecewife

  • Joined May 2010
  • South Lanarkshire
    • ScotHebs
Re: Heating our homes from now on
« Reply #43 on: September 28, 2021, 06:22:08 pm »
The Scottish system was the But and Ben where one end of the cottage had animals in, perhaps a cow and a pig, maybe some hens, while the other end was lived in by the family.  The livestock generated the heat (and smell) to heat the but end. There were no other rooms to close off.


In the days of open fires, in larger houses a chimney would travel from the ground floor up through the first floor room above it, thus making it habitable without having to light the fire in the bedroom.  The house I grew up in in East Anglia was arranged like that.  I missed out because my room was above the entrance hall so was the coldest room in the house, with ice on the inside of the windows. However, I hate a heated bedroom to this day; I just have loads of bedclothes and wear a vest under my pyjamas in winter.


It's a fact that people do now expect their whole house to be warm when they could simply wear extra clothing.
There is NO planet B - what are YOU doing to save our home?

Do something today that your future self will thank you for - plant a tree

 Love your soil - it's the lifeblood of your land.

SallyintNorth

  • Joined Feb 2011
  • Cornwall
  • Rarely short of an opinion but I mean well
    • Trelay Cohousing Community
Re: Heating our homes from now on
« Reply #44 on: September 28, 2021, 09:08:28 pm »

It's a fact that people do now expect their whole house to be warm when they could simply wear extra clothing.

I make much use of shawls / blankets and hot water bottles.

Why heat an entire room when I can be toasty warm with some good woollies on, sitting on a sheepskin, a hot water bottle behind my back and a shawl over my knees?  (And drinking a hot drink helps too.)

I am in and out all day too, so (a) half the time, I'd be heating space that no-one is using, and (b) I'm always warm for a while when I get back indoors, so if the room was warm enough for me after I'd sat for an hour, I'd be peeling layers when I got back from outside.

If it's really chilly, I will wear a woolly hat indoors - works wonders.  Woolly slippers too.
Don't listen to the money men - they know the price of everything and the value of nothing

Live in a cohousing community with small farm for our own use.  Dairy cows (rearing their own calves for beef), pigs, sheep for meat and fleece, ducks and hens for eggs, veg and fruit growing

 

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