Wood Burning Stoves: The Fuel That Everyone Forgets

In the midst of the Green Deal, it can be easy to forget that some of the green solutions presented to us aren’t quite as simple as they’re laid out. Of course, most people are not overly bothered about technicalities – if it saves them money, it’s usually good enough.


Over recent years there has been a surge in interest of wood burning boilers and stoves. Such demand really shouldn’t be a surprise and it seems as though a lot of the country are trying to wash their hands (at least as much as they can) of the energy companies who are hiking up the costs of gas and electricity.

Even though these contraptions have been around for centuries, long before the emergence of the famous A-grade boilers, technology now means that they are much more efficient and can be piped into the whole house so that the reliance on ‘commercial’ heating fuels is pretty much nil.

Sounds good? They certainly are. However, like we said previously, it can be easy to forget about the minor details. One such detail is the wood and as we’ll soon find out, sourcing sufficient amounts of the correct timber is something that sounds easier than it actually is. Therefore, before you take the plunge, take a read through the following and ensure that you will be able to power up your wood burning device.

What type of wood will you require?

For some people, wood burning stoves sound like the ideal solution. Not only will they slash the cost of heating a house, but they’ll also be able to burn away all of that junk wood which has been collected at the end of the yard.

stack-of-firewoodUnfortunately, the chances of this proving to be a suitable burning source are few and far between. Some woods won’t work at all, while others just won’t be very efficient. Generally, the softer the wood the worse it performs and while the hardwoods such as oak might cost a little more to purchase initially, they will last much, much longer and save you money down the road. Still, this is where strategic thinking comes into play and while oak is the better choice, during the warmer months where the heating will barely be used it might be advisable to opt for a cheaper, short-term option like pine.

Now’s not the time to go on a great oak hunt though. You’ve also got to determine whether you need chips, pellets or logs. One could write a whole dissertation on the pros and cons of each and usually your burner will make the decision for you. Still, the point we’re trying to make is that while you may think you’ve found a wood source, also make sure that the material arrives in the correct form for your stove.

Do you have a local supplier?

We’ve certainly not brushed over the fact that the wood burning stove industry is in full bloom – it’s the latest and greatest green heating sensation, and everyone is jumping on the bandwagon. Therefore, this next issue isn’t quite as important as it once was. Naturally, a local wood supplier will always work out cheaper, but even if you don’t have access to one there are now national firms providing deliveries all over the country.

Are you able to take the DIY approach?

This is one green system that certainly permits the DIY approach and if you happen to reside in a house that is part of large grounds, creating your own source of fuel could be considered. Don’t go felling any type of tree though; firstly make sure it’s allowed and then find the necessary arborist gear to ensure you’re fully prepared.

It’s definitely not an approach for everyone, but it can again slash the costs of heating which is the principle aim for a lot of wood burning boiler owners.

There is another option as well; one that isn’t quite as extreme but can still cut costs. While you’ll still have to buy your wood from an external source, if you have access to a wood chipper or high powered saw it can prompt savings rather than purchasing the material ‘pre-packaged’, so to speak.

What about storage?

Once you’ve made the relevant considerations in relation to the wood itself, it’s time to move onto another area that practically every stove owner forgets. It’s all very well sourcing your wood, but it’s not something that can just be dumped in the garden ready for the elements to ruin. Additionally, the missus is probably not going to be too impressed walking into a hallway stashed with logs.

Therefore, storage is an essential consideration. It needs to be accessible to a delivery driver, if this is how you are going to source the fuel, whilst also being dry. If you don’t have such space it’s not the end of the world, as there are hopper systems which allow a large quantity of wood to be stored near the boiler and slowly fed in. Naturally, these need slightly more space than the standard versions though – so that’s another issue to factor in.

And there we have it – your guide to sourcing your stove’s fuel. Like we said at the start of the post, this is a topic that a lot of potential stove owners simply negate to consider. However, it’s absolutely crucial and if you do have concerns about sourcing suitable wood, it’s better to mull over them now rather than in the middle of winter when you’ve just burned your last log.