Heating with wood is one of the great benefits we can achieve from our tree farm. There are so many benefits of using trees from Watts Tree Farm for our domestic heating and I would like to touch on a few of them for you.
First of all there is the obvious one of saving money. Our house is heated with a hot water system which is also used for our domestic hot water. When our house was built, about 30 years ago, an oil furnace was the main heat source and we added two wood stoves. One was in our basement and the other in our living room. These were good but they had some of the usual drawbacks like; mess of wood debris in the living room, carrying wood up from the basement and having one room hot while other rooms were cool. So I wasn’t long looking into a wood boiler to add to my oil furnace. This was probably one of the best additions I made to the house. The two furnaces are linked so that when the temperature in the wood boiler reaches a certain temperature the water is circulated between the two units. The house has several zones, so the heat can go to which ever zone needs the heat and I can also get my domestic hot water from my wood. The wood stoves became decorations and the one in the living room was eventually removed.
We burn wood for an extended period because of the domestic hot water use. We let the wood furnace go out for about six to eight weeks in the hottest part of the summer. Our oil consumption is quite low and I am proud of that. I estimate that we get about 85% of our space heat and domestic hot water from the wood we harvest in our woodlot.
There is one philosophy at our house when it comes to wood heat. This is “If it grows in the woodlot we will use it for heat.” In other words we do not care which species of wood we use. If it grows big enough to be cut into a piece of firewood it will get used. We use low density woods like aspen, fir or pine along with denser species like maple, beech and oak.
Burning the low-grade pieces of wood that will not make a saw log allows us to make improvements in the woodlot. For example, I am able to thin a pine plantation and remove the smaller poor shaped trees and favor the growth of the best quality trees. Or, I can focus a strip cut in the poorest formed hardwood section of the woodlot. This gives me a new area to concentrate on growing quality trees for the future. I will write much more about this in the future.
When the wood is cut in the woodlot it is usually left in the forest for at least six months and often for a year. Most of the drying will take place here. I am fortunate that the wood will dry considerably more in the basement where the small bit of excess heat from the furnace keeps the basement warm and dries my fire wood. The larger diameter trees are cut into short pieces of wood in the woodlot. This just makes the wood easier to handle. The smaller diameter pieces are often left in two to three meter long pieces that are cut up in my yard.
The fact that we are able to grow our own heat means that we are not using up the much of the world’s oil. The trees used are the poorer quality ones so we are slowly making improvements to the over all quality of the trees in Watts Tree Farm. As mention before, what we cut and what we leave takes into account the wildlife in the woodlot. The other benefit is to my health, both physical and mental. The work is hard but the exercise is good. And just being out in the forest, well, I can’t say enough good about how that makes you feel!
If you are enjoying this blog please consider following by clicking on the “Follow” button on the right side. I look forward to your comments and questions.
Until next time, keep safe and well.