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Buying fuel

Wood is an environmentally-friendly method for consumers to heat homes IF the wood is burnt correctly at the right moisture (less than 20 per cent) and heat temperature. Trees tend to absorb more carbon monoxide when growing in comparison to the CO created when logs are alight. The combination of combustion techniques and stoves with user friendly gadgetry also ensures that near-complete combustion can be achieved. Logs are a wonderful, reliable and cost effective source for heat energy!

There are two main types of customers in the log market:-

  • Customers who see logs as the primary heat source for their houses

These customers tend to buy as cheaply as possible in bulk. The price of logs bought by them needs to compete favourably with the price of gas, oil, and electricity.

  • Customers who have a stove or open fire for amenity use

This group of customers will not be using logs as their primary heat source. In fact, they may only use their wood stove very occasionally. That means they are less likely to know the current price of logs and are likely to buy smaller amounts. Since the use of the wood stove is more of a treat than a necessity; the budget for logs that fall into this category tends to be competing with costs for other leisure pursuits such as a couple of bottles of wine or going out for dinner (i.e. they are more expensive). Most kiln dried logs and logs sold in local petrol stations fall into this type.

If you are a frequent user of a wood burning stove, find a supplier to supply you with a decent quantity and at a competitive price. Build a sturdy log store and start the seasoning process of drying the wood as thoroughly as possible (rather than paying extra for premium logs, or small quantities at inflated prices).

What is in a load of logs?

Wood log suppliers may give you a discount if you save the time of deliveries. Of course, that can only happen if you are lucky enough to own a pickup truck or a trailer which can handle the weight! It also means you will have a better idea of the quantity you are buying. Log suppliers always supply logs in an imprecise measure called a ‘load’. This basically means whatever they can fit loosely in their truck or trailer (loose). So take care to check the load quantity is before placing an order. Some of the premium log suppliers have started delivering logs that are pre-stacked in wooden containers so you can get a batch of logs complete with their storage container. Customers may find this very convenient (with no stacking or the need to build a log store) but this is a premium service and it will come at a premium price!

Kiln dried logs or not?

There are plenty of log suppliers who offer kiln dried logs. These types of logs are premium products which have been artificially dried in a wood kiln to a lower moisture content than via the air dry method. This method is not bad for the environment since the kiln uses waste off-cuts of wood (which would have gone to a landfill site). A number of suppliers of kiln dried logs also use biomass to heat the kiln to the correct temperature; whether this is better for the environment or not is dubious as energy is being consumed when it is not necessary.

Some 20 per cent of air dried logs are good for most appliances including wood burning stoves. Kiln dried wood is now imported from the Baltic states by the larger suppliers (with the associated transport emissions). As a result, you will be paying more and you may want to check the sustainability of this material more thoroughly.

Buying green logs

Green logs will be cheaper as you are not paying anyone to store and dry them for you. Handy Tip: tree surgeons are a good source for buying wood . . . and let’s face it, if you do all the hard work i.e. splitting and stacking the wood ready for the winter months, it will in turn keep you warm twice!

Waste wood

This is a fantastic way and cost effective way of getting kiln dried firewood – if you don’t care what the wood in your stove looks like. Be careful to keep away from contaminated wood e.g. affected by paint and wood preserver. Wood that contains nails is fine though and I have been burning pallets in my own home for years. When I sweep my own chimney, I do not see much of a soot build-up because of that.

The pub test

I have a friend from Tunbridge Wells who swears by this method (although I do think he may have an ulterior motive!). David’s theory is that publicans are so busy running the pub that they do not have time to mess around with the fire so they always buy good quality logs. So, David’s theory is simple, go down to your nearest pub that has an open fire. Make sure you are happy with the fire itself (plenty of heat and burning well), buy a pint or two – just to be sure of the quality of the wood then ask for the suppliers’ telephone number. I suspect, though, that while this is a great way to find a supplier of great dry logs, it does not take into account how much the logs cost or how much beer is being consumed!

Logs from petrol stations

I hate, loathe and detest buying logs from petrol stations. I think petrol stations’ logs are priced too high and moisture content is normally about 30%. Never buy logs from petrol stations, they are worthless.

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