Wood Heat - The safe and efficient use of wood stoves

There’s a lot of talk in the Lakes District about clean air, and what we should do at home to cut down on our domestic air pollution. One suggestion is to burn smaller, hotter fires in wood burning stoves. Heating your home with stoves offer greater control over your fuel supply, security from electrical power interruptions and shelter from the rising costs of more conventional forms of energy. So here are some tips to enhance the effectiveness, safety and efficiency of your wood burning stove:

· If you’re planning to purchase a new wood-heating system or think it might be time to replace your older stove, consider upgrading to an EPA/CSA B415-certified, low-emission, high- efficiency wood burning appliance. Newer technology wood stoves can help you save time, effort and money. They also burn up to 80 per cent cleaner than traditional stoves.

· For efficient heating all winter long, use only good quality, seasoned firewood that’s cut to the right size for your wood burning appliance. Generally, hardwoods like oak and maple are fine for very cold winter weather, while softer woods like birch and poplar make better fuel during the spring and fall.

· When storing firewood split the wood into a variety of sizes ranging from eight to 15 cm (three to six inches) in diameter. Cut logs into pieces at least eight cm (three inches) shorter than your firebox and probably no more than 40 cm (16 inches) in length. Remember that wood should be stored fully sheltered from rain and snow, and close to – but not inside – the house.

· To build a fire with little or no smoke, start by removing excess ash from the firebox. Open the air control fully and build a kindling fire where the main supply of combustion air enters the firebox. Make sure to use dry softwood that is finely split to produce numerous edges where the fire can catch.

· To keep your wood heater operating safely and efficiently, try to prevent the wood from smoldering excessively. After an overnight fire, remove a small amount of ash from the front of the firebox and rake any coals left at the back towards the inlet where the combustion air enters.

· Remember that wood burns best in cycles, so make sure to burn each load of wood down to coals before reloading your stove.

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