Sunday, 26 June 2016

Heating and cooking with wood

Turning this...
Provided it's sourced from responsibly and sustainably managed forests, wood is the original renewable fuel supply to run the house on.

Of course there is fancy new technology around for doing this, such as woodchip or pellet burning biomass boilers. We have a Rayburn, which is a bit of technology that hasn't altered appreciably since about the 1940s. In our situation, however, it does offer certain advantages over the new kit.

  • It doesn't just heat the radiators and hot water: you also cook with it.
  • You don't need to buy any sort of processed wood to run it on.
  • It's well-proven technology: simple and robust.
  • As they say in the old brochures, the range is the warm beating heart of the home.
Disadvantages? Some might consider the complete absence of any sort of automation to be a disadvantage. It's very hands-on. But that means that I can look after it myself, without having to go to the trouble and expense of getting expensive engineers and service technicians out to take care of it.

It has taken us a while to sort out the wood supply. The first winter we had no option but to buy in firewood from local domestic suppliers. Convenient, but very expensive if you're using it for more than the occasional evening or weekend cosy fire.

....into fuel for this!
We got a bit better at it the second winter, when we managed to acquire some fairly large logs to cut and split ourselves. It wasn't enough though, and we still had to buy some of the expensive stuff to see us through.

By the third winter, we were starting to get the hang of it. I'd admired and coveted a neighbour's magnificent log pile and discovered the answer from them: the Forestry Commission. They manage vast woodlands for the nation, and one can buy firewood - in tree trunk form - from them at a reasonable rate.

We were still catching up though, and cutting it as you need it isn't the ideal situation. This year though, we're aiming to have next winter's wood supply cut well in advance, to be seasoned and ready in good time!

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