Wednesday, 30 October 2013


If you live outside London, chances are you have found a cheap source of firewood and pay cash for a farm-trailer load. Pity then the poor city dwellers who are paying at least £120/m3 for their bulk cut firewood; at that price, I'm not sure it offers any cost advantage over gas, oil or electric at all. And the equivalent cost/m3 of those little £5 bags of logs sold at filling stations is about £280/m3

Austria is pretty well covered in trees. Seasoned firewood in 1m lengths is currently about £42/m3; cut into 25cm or 33cm lengths it's more expensive, but there's an even cheaper way to buy it. Call your local ÖBF (Forestry Commission) and they will meet you at a woods near your home and mark a number of trees for you. Cut, split and stack the wood in 1m x 1m piles at the roadside and call the Forest Guy back to pay - this comes out at maybe £21/m3. Of course, you need to season it for two years, but Austrian back yards are like Austrian larders - full of provision. 

For all those currently looking to pay £100 a month for their gas, it may be time to get the chainsaw out.

NB for any 'environmentalists' - West Berlin was completely denuded of every last standing tree in 1947 as folk needed fuel. Look at it now; trees regrow. That's the point.


Weekend Yachtsman said...

Good stuff, but the kind of good stuff I'd rather keep quiet about...

The farm trailer that I pay cash for used to be filled at no cost except the labour, and sold to me for about £50.

Now, thanks to the number of people jumping on the bandwagon and installing wood-burners, our man has to pay the estates for the wood and the cost to me has gone up to £130.

We should emphasise the storage space needed, the labour of splitting, the weight to carry, and the low calorific value: really, Mr. Surburbanite, you'd be better sticking to yous gas and leaving all that hard work to us...

Much in the same way that people who write about sailing on the West Coast ought to emphasise the midges and the awful weather, rather than rave about the scenery and the free anchorages.

Last thing we want's competition...

Anonymous said...

Good stuff indeed but where I live (North Manchester) most people live in DHS funded accommodation and solve the problem by simply burning their houses one bit at a time.

First, the kitchen units, then the back-gate, then the interior doors and finally the floorboards before getting the DHS in and saying, "Look at the state of this place! You need to rehouse me!"

Repeat and rinse.

English Pensioner said...

Provided trees are replaced it is very green to use them, as younger trees absorb far more carbon whilst growing than mature trees. Have you ever been in a forest of mature pine trees, they have long trunks and a little bit of thatch at the top which absorbs very little carbon. This is the fallacy behind re-cycling paper, after allowing for collection and all the chemicals used in recycling, it is probably less green than making it from scratch.

Anonymous said...

Anon @ 30 October 2013 10:35

Hilarious and oh so true!

Yep, I've got my chainsaw at the ready! Anyway, here a riddle for you with a bit of existential philosophy thrown in.

A tree falls in a forest (there's the philosophy bit) so how much CO2 does it give off as it decays?

Answer: Exactly the same amount as it would do if you turned up with your chainsaw and logged it and burnt it at home. So this high wind and storm stuff could prove a mini-boon to you southern folks!

Next question: How many times does wood keep you warm?

Answer: Twice. Once when you are cutting it and once again when you burn it :)

Coney Island

Dave said...

Coney - six times actually. Collecting, stacking (to season), chopping, stacking again (storage), bring it into the house FROM the store THEN burning it!
Sadly I have to pay £50 for a licence to gather firewood - amusingly I got 10m^2 last time I did it!!! Enough for 3 seasons. :P
Now we're getting the neds from Glasgow driving out here every weekend to steal the stuff.....

Ian Hills said...

If you live near a common you may have the right of "estovers" in your deeds - the right to collect dead wood (and sometimes underwood, depending on the customs of the manor).

You can collect as much as is needed to keep you in fuel all year, and to repair your house and farm implements (only if you have a farm, of course).

You might also have rights of turbary (turves), piscary (fishing), marl (gravel and sand), pannage (pigs) and pasturage (other animals).

Thud said...

I've enjoyed stacking next years wood the last couple of weeks, a great feeling of satisfaction is to be found when faced with a well stocked wood pile.

Anonymous said...

Dave - I'll accept your six times against my two.

Thud - the sense of satisfaction you describe is well understood by those who look upon a well stacked pile of wood after a day's honest toil cutting and racking it.

Coney Island