A closer look at heating with wood
Scott Sanford, Senior Outreach Specialist
Department of Biological Systems Engineering
UW-Madison College of Agricultural and Life Sciences
16 page fact sheet found here:
Additional information here:
Scott Sanford tells us the most important things to know before purchasing a wood-burning appliance.
3:01 – Total time
0:22 – Look for wood burning efficiency
0:49 – How to find efficient wood burners
1:20 – Spot the white tag on a stove
1:35 – How efficient a stove can be
1:44 – Burn less wood get more heat
2:00 – Sell wood, pay your fuel bill
2:31 – For more information
2:50 – Lead out
Sevie Kenyon: Scott, what are some things people should think about if they’re considering a wood-burning appliance?
Scott Sanford: Well one of the biggest things is the efficiency of the unit. There’s a lot of older wood stoves out there, especially outdoor wood-stoves that are very inefficient. The average efficiency of some of these devices is forty percent or less. Just like a box you’re throwing wood into. The good thing is that there are newer types of stoves. The EPA had a voluntary type program, trying to get manufacturers to increase their efficiency of their stoves, and it’s worked.
Sevie Kenyon: What do people look for if they’re looking for an efficient stove?
Scott Sanford: The EPA has third party testing. The information with smoke…one of the concerns is the smoke emissions. So when you have more smoke you have less efficiency. So, you can go to their site, it’s called “Burn Wise,” you Google that and you should get to it, and there’s a list of the efficiency of stoves that they test, that not every manufacturer’s required to test their stoves. But the ones that are tested are listed there.
Sevie Kenyon: Those stoves that have been tested, do they typically advertise as such?
Scott Sanford: You can go into shopping and you can ask the dealer and it’ll be an EPA white tag, and it’ll list the efficiency of it plus the smoke emissions and stuff on it.
Sevie Kenyon: What kind of efficiencies are we looking for to be a good wood-burning stove?
Scott Sanford: Typically we’re looking for seventy percent or better in efficiency.
Sevie Kenyon: What are some of the things you gain by this more efficient stove?
Scott Sanford: Well, one thing is there’s less wood to cut. Because, you know, there’s some people who think wood is free, but last I checked, it takes a lot of labor and equipment to cut wood. So, the biggest thing is you’re going to use less wood.
Sevie Kenyon: Scott, are there times when people would be better off selling wood than burning it?
Scott Sanford: Why yes. If they want to save some money, and they have a wood lot. Many times they’d be better off selling the cordwood for people to use in the fireplace, and then paying their energy bill otherwise, whether it’s wood pellets or maybe even natural gas. Natural gas is actually the cheapest source you can find these days. It’s probably averaging around nine dollars a million BTU’s. Wood, if you’ve got an outdoor wood boiler that’s not very efficient, it can be almost thirty bucks a million BTU’s.
Sevie Kenyon: Is there someplace people can go for more information about this topic Scott?
Scott Sanford: Yes, we have a brochure or fact sheet, a sixteen page factsheet, with a worksheet to help you try to figure out what the efficiency compared to what you’re using now. You can Google “Learning Store”, “Wood Heating Appliances”, and that should take you to a search that’ll pop that up.
Sevie Kenyon: We’ve been visiting Scott Sanford, Department of Biological Systems Engineering, University of Wisconsin, and the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, Madison, Wisconsin, and I am Sevie Kenyon.