Firewood: The Economic Answer
There is an ongoing conversation happening every day in America and worldwide about rising fuel costs and energy efficiency. Fortunately, making real change happen, is something that has become more and more possible, thanks to the resurgence of an old and simple practice—burning firewood.
Burning firewood as a fuel source may seem a bit old-fashioned and even a step backward for some people. However, unlike fossil fuels like oil, coal, and natural gas, which are broadly used and increasing in cost, firewood is 100% renewable and significantly more economically viable than those long-standing non-renewable mainstays. To top it off, with modern day catalytic stoves, heating with firewood is cleaner for the environment than ever before.
The Oldest Source of Energy
Burning wood for fuel is considered the first form of energy production in human history. Even today, with the hyper-fixation that most countries have on fossil fuels, firewood still accounts for 6% of the global primary energy supply. Additionally, many countries have plans to increase their reliance on firewood as a primary energy source. Firewood is the perfect primary or alternate fuel for homes, and the most renewable energy source available in many instances.
This shift in perception is due to a variety of factors. The first and most important one is that firewood is the most readily accessible energy source. Any time a society goes through a period of upheaval, whether due to a natural disaster, change in government policies, economic woes, etc. a common solution to these problems has been a switch to wood-burning, as a primary fuel source.
Additionally, the renewability of firewood cannot be understated. As long as forests are managed sustainably, by planting new trees for every one felled, forests can be replenished faster than they are depleted. In Europe, wooded areas are growing faster than in America, despite the greater use of wood as a fuel source, thanks to sustainable forestry practices.
Photo Credit: Chad Van Orden
Ecological Impact Examined
Burning wood for fuel, using modern heating designs, has reduced the impact on the environment. As long as trees are planted, at a rate that corresponds with the number of trees being felled for fuel, the CO2 emissions from combustion are offset by the absorption capabilities of newly planted trees and existing forests. This correlation means that burning firewood for fuel is essentially carbon neutral, as long as sustainable practices are adhered to.
While Europe has been leading the charge regarding sustainable firewood consumption practices, there is no reason that America cannot follow suit. As of 2016, approximately 36.21% of the United States is covered in forested land. This enormous supply, of such a precious natural resource, means no shortage of firewood for fuel. Additionally, over the last 50 years, forest area in the US has remained reasonably stable, and the number of trees growing in these forested areas has increased by over 20% since 1990.
Photo Credit: Leonel G.
The Economics of Energy
While environmental impact is a vital consideration, the day-to-day process of putting food on the table and heating the home is equally important and top of mind for most Americans. For most people who operate on a standard electric or gas heating grid system, switching to wood-burning as a fuel source may seem daunting. Still, the advantages significantly outweigh the drawbacks and merits close consideration.
At a glance, heating a home with firewood may seem like a binary option; you use it, or you don’t. However, heating with wood can simply be part of the overall home heating strategy. That could include supplementing traditional fuel oil, natural gas and electric systems to a greater or lesser extent. If you are building or renovating your property, it is worth looking into the most effective combination of options to determine if wood fuel is right for you.
Ultimately, no matter what wood heating method you use, it will require you to have a readily available supply of wood to burn. For some people, especially those who live in larger communities, this may mean purchasing cords of firewood or bags of wood pellets. However, for those in more rural areas, you might actually do away entirely with this cost, by using the wood harvested from your own property. This also offers you the unique personal advantage to manage your property and optimize the ecological balance, by selectively cutting, thinning and replanting local species.
It should be noted that many States have Forest Services that can supply you with seedlings and offer advice on conservation and forest management in your area. For example: “Vermont is 74% forested and wood is your local, sustainable, renewable fuel source. The Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation supports the adoption of an “advanced wood heating” program which encourages the use of highly efficient, clean burning/low emitting technology, while recognizing that safeguarding long-term forest health is critical to ensure that wood fuel is renewable and sustainable.“ Wood Energy | Department of Forests - Parks and Recreation (vermont.gov) Likewise, some public land allows for the collection of windfallen trees or selective cutting with permission, as part of their land management strategy.
An intermediate and surprisingly cost-effective option, is to purchase your firewood by the full log length cherry picker load. This can yield up to 12 logger cords(4’x4’x8’) of firewood. This is a great approach, especially if you have a neighbor that would purchase some of the finished cordwood or would like to share the up-front cost of the load and help process both shares.
Photo Credit: Skyler
Utilizing Your Land and Resources
Fortunately, thanks to modern machinery and patented tools such as the LogOX 3-in-1 Forestry MultiTool, harvesting firewoodwood has become much faster, safer, and easier. If you live on a rural property, chances are good that you enjoy being out in the woods, and harvesting timber for firewood can become an enjoyable activity with both family and friends. It will quickly become part of the natural rhythm of the seasons. An added bonus is the rewarding results of exercise that comes with firewood harvesting. That being said, harvesting wood is labor intensive and you should check with a physician, to make sure you can engage in this sort of physical activity.
The LogOX 3-in-1 Forestry MultiTool is an excellent choice for a forestry hand tool. It combines three essential wood harvesting tools into a compact, easy to transport hand tool. The LogOX Hauler forms the base of this modular tool and lets you lift, move, and roll logs without having to bend over, which has been scientifically proven to reduce back strain by 93% when lifting log rounds. Three swing-lock connection pins quickly convert it into either a 40” cant hook or timberjack, to roll or lift logs prior to bucking them with a chainsaw. This technique helps prevent bar pinch, dangerous kickbacks, and chain damage caused by accidentally running your chain into the ground.
When it comes time to move your firewood indoors the patented WoodOX Sling ergonomic firewood carrier has you covered, allowing you to move more firewood per trip with less wear and tear on your body. Once indoors, the Hearth Bin adjustable firewood rack is the world’s first firewood rack with adjustable side panels that allows you to stack a sizable amount of firewood on even narrow hearths. From harvest to hearth, we’ve got your back!
Using sustainable, carbon neutral, and renewable firewood for fuel is an undeniably effective way to cut costs, help the environment, and allow you to live an outdoor lifestyle to the fullest. For some people, especially those who live in larger communities, this may mean purchasing cords of firewood or bags of wood pellets.
All it takes is a bit of research, a willingness to put in the work, and the right tools for the job. LogOX makes the best forestry hand tools on the market and will help you make your sustainable property goals happen!