Table of Contents
Chapter 1 - Why Burn Wood?
Chapter 2 - Wood: A Renewable Energy Resource
Chapter 3 - Energy Conservation
Chapter 4 - Choosing a Heater
Chapter 5 - A New Era: EPA-Certified Wood Stoves
Chapter 6 - Chimneys and Wood Stoves: An Intimate Relationship
Chapter 7 - Combustion Theory: What Happens in the Firebox
Chapter 8 - Fire Safety
Chapter 9 - Stove Location and the House Heating System
Chapter 10 - Wood Fuel
Chapter 11 - Wood Stove Use
Chapter 12 - Fireplaces Still Have a Place
Excerpt from Chapter 1
Why Burn Wood?
Have you ever noticed how people gather around a fireplace in a ski lodge or common room? It's a lot like being with people at the seashore. No one owns the ocean but it's an elemental part of our world and we gather around it. And so it is with fire. Fire is nature's way of giving us the sun's warmth. Burning wood isn't only about energy independence resourcefulness or economics. It's about the hearth and its rightful place in our homes.
Woodburning can be an intelligent and environmentally sound home heating option, whether it is used as a primary or supplemental source of heat. Among the other home heating fuels wood is the one renewable fuel that can be harvested with one's own labor and a modest investment in equipment. Forested land provides us with modest investment in equipment. Forested land provides us with storm-damaged trees; trees cleared for development or roadway and utility maintenance; and standing dead and deadfall timber. Sound woodlot management yields significant firewood from the process of thinning out crooked, non-lumber-grade trees and less desirable species. The byproduct of logging operations leaves firewood from unusable limbs and trees cut for access roads.
In any wooded environment there is both oxygen production from growing trees and the release of carbon dioxide, the "greenhouse" gas, as dead wood decays. Since these gases are products of a natural cycle we may as well use them to heat our homes as long as our woodburning is done responsibly and in harmony with the environment.
From a geopolitical perspective, the woodburner can also derive some satisfaction from the thought that Btus created from burning wood implicitly reduce the risks associated with our society's insatiable thirst for oil and other fossil fuels risks as far-reaching and dangerous as "Operation Desert Storm" or the Exxon Valdez incident.
A Historical Perspective
Even a thousand years ago, woodburning Europeans were concerning about fuel efficiency. Urban populations made fire safety a social concern and a ready supply of firewood was a valued commodity. With wood, the material almost exclusively used for cooking, heating, and building the per capita consumption was significant. Aside from these domestic uses the demand for wood by industry for foundries, bakeries, glassworks, and the like, also took its toll on the forests.
In addition to wood's popularity and usefulness we should remember that the period between 1550 and 1850 is now sometimes referred to as the "Little Ice Age." During these years Europe was experiencing its own energy crisis long before heating oil was even known.
Together, all of these factors, increasing demand, dwindling supplies and a severe climatic change, led to the quest for efficient wood heating.
Copyright permission by Storey Books