An invaluable guide for the obsessional is the Wood Fuels Handbook pdf. I'll cut to the chase.
I use only air dry red beech - which given the very dry alpine air here, samples out at between 11% and 14% moisture content. It burns hot and clean and with little ash residue. I buy it split but uncut for a cost of about £66 per srm or bulk cubic metre, containing around 400kg of wood. Each m3 is equivalent to around 1,850 kWh, so a cost of about 3.6p per kWh - comparable to gas and oil in the Uk at about 4p per kWh. However, the pros and cons are significant
- You have to feed the stoves. I have a 23kW central heating range cooker and a 7kW oven in the Winter living room. Each day you need to carry fuel indoors, and feed the beasts every 30/40 minutes. And no, you can't turn it on remotely with your i-phone at the airport so the house is hot when you get home.
- You need to plan. You can't burn wood on a low setting - it buggers the flues and creates tar deposits. You need a high temperature burn, so you need to capture the heat in a thermal store which then supplies radiators and underfloor heating. Cooking and living need planning.
- You need to clean the ash out and dispose of it daily.
- You need somewhere to store it.
- The smell of woodsmoke - as Austrian as a dirndl. I love it.
- You don't have to pay what I do. Many in the valley scavenge wood for free or buy standing wood from the Austrian equivalent of the forestry commission for very little. Your tree is marked with a number, and it's up to you to fell it and remove it. The local Council doesn't bother clearing fallen branches - every home has a chainsaw*, and they disappear rapidly
- In a fuel emergency you can burn any dry wood in the stoves - floorboards, furniture ...
- Having all your winter fuel in advance, safe from strikes, Putin, price rises etc is wonderfully reassuring.
|Ready for Winter ...|