I need to preface this article by assuring readers that, contrary to what many people are saying, New York State is not considering passing legislation that would prohibit burning wood or woody biomass products (pellets, scrap wood, sawmill and forest residues) at this time. There is a draft-plan, however, in which the state Climate Action Council’s advisory panel sets out scenarios for an 85% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, with overall wood use decreasing within that time frame.
Posts Tagged ‘firewood’
The Heating Season is Coming and Heating Fuel Costs are High
It’s the time of year when North Country homeowners and renters start to think about and prepare for the upcoming heating season. The price of heating oil, propane, and natural gas all reached record highs earlier this year. And, what we’ll be paying for those fuels during the winter is anyone’s guess. The price will depend on many factors, including the weather, supply and demand locally and worldwide, and inflation. Whatever the cost, it’s apparent that high fuel prices aren’t going away. And that fuel prices are just one of several inflation pressures that everyone’s facing.
An upswing in woodstove use might sound yawn-worthy, but recent findings about the dire health effects of wood smoke might mean the long-term future of wood as a heating fuel is in question.
As someone who grew up with wood heat, I assumed it was hands-down one of the most sustainable, eco-positive fuels for home heating. Like many other widely shared conventions, it turns out the veracity of that assumption depends on a lot of things.
How many people burn wood in a given locale is an obvious factor. The number of homes using wood heat rose sharply in the years following the 1998 ice storm which left residents without power for weeks on end. Also no surprise, the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the use of wood heat.
The tradition of burning a Yule log has largely fizzled out in most parts of the world. While holiday cards often feature cute, picturesque birch rounds in the hearth, old-time Yule logs in 6th and 7th century Europe were monster tree trunks that were meant to burn all day, and in certain cultures for twelve continuous days, without being entirely used up.
Apparently, if you didn’t have a leftover bit of this log remaining after the marathon burn, you were doomed to misfortune in the upcoming year. The remnant piece of charred wood was tucked away in the ceiling and was used to light the following year’s Yule log. I assume it was extinguished before being squirreled away in the rafters or some really bad luck would ensue.
While a birch log is charming, it doesn’t compare with many other hardwoods in terms of heat value and how long it will burn. Heat value from wood and other fuels is measured in British thermal units (BTUs), one BTU being the energy required to heat a pound of water one degree Fahrenheit. If you look at firewood BTU-value charts you’ll see that few of them agree exactly. This is to be expected, as the heat value of a given species varies according to the conditions in which it grew.
State’s Firewood Regulations Limit Firewood Movement to Protect New York Forests
With the start of the 2021 camping season underway, Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Basil Seggos and Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation Commissioner Erik Kulleseid have encouraged campers to use local firewood and follow New York State firewood regulations to help prevent the spread of invasive species. Untreated firewood – firewood that has not met the state’s heat treatment standard – can contain invasive pests that kill trees. To protect New York’s forests, untreated firewood should not be moved more than 50 miles from its source of origin.
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