Heat your home safely and efficiently with wood this winter
More than one million Canadian families heat their homes at least partly with wood. The benefits of wood heating include having control over the fuel supply, security from electrical power interruptions and shelter from the rising costs of more conventional forms of energy. But if you heat with wood, it’s important to make sure that you do it right.
To help you make sure your wood heat is “done right” this winter, Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) has a number of tips for enhancing the effectiveness, safety and efficiency of your wood heating system, including:
• If you’re planning a new wood-heating system or thinking about replacing your older stove, consider upgrading to an EPA/CSA B415-certified, low-emission, high-efficiency woodburning appliance to save time, effort and money.
• For efficient heating all winter long, use only good quality, seasoned firewood that is the right size for your woodburning appliance. Generally speaking, hardwoods like oak and maple are fine for very cold winter weather, while softer woods like birch and poplar make better fuel for the milder weather during the spring and fall.
• When storing firewood, split the wood into a variety of sizes ranging from 8 to 15 cm (3 to 6 in.) in diameter, and cut the logs into pieces that are at least 7.5 cm (3 in.) shorter than your firebox and probably no more than 40 cm (16 in.) in length. Plus, remember that wood should be stored close to but not inside the house, and fully sheltered from rain and snow.
• To build a fire with little or no smoke, start by removing excess ash from the firebox. Next, open the air control fully, locate the place where the main supply of combustion air enters the firebox, and build a kindling fire with 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 smouldering 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 of the firebox towards the inlet where the combustion air enters.
• Wood burns best in cycles. Burn each load down to coals before reloading.
• Lastly, for relatively mild weather, use small loads of softwood placed in a criss-cross pattern to help prevent large coal beds that could overheat the house. In colder weather, use larger loads of harder wood placed compactly in the firebox, leave the air control fully open until the wood is charred black and the edges are glowing red, and then turn down the air in stages to avoid shocking the fire into a smoulder.
Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) is Canada’s national housing agency and a source of objective, reliable housing information.
For more information or a copy of the “About Your House” fact sheet Efficient, Convenient Wood Heating and of CMHC’s publication A Guide to Residential Wood Heating, or other fact sheets on virtually every facet of owning, maintaining or renovating your home, ask CMHC at 1 800 668-2642 or visit our Web site at www.cmhc.ca.
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