Value of wood burning

Scott Sanford, UW-Extension Rural Energy Program Outreach Specialist
Department of Biological Systems Engineering
UW-Madison College of Agricultural and Life Sciences
(608) 262-5062 firewood-287015_1280

Scott Sanford talks about the value of using wood for heating.

For More Wood Burning Information:

Wood Burning Webinar Registration:

2:57 – Total Time

0:20 – Options for wood fuel
0:38 – Differences between wood options
1:08 – Plentiful supply of wood
1:26 – Consider efficiency first
2:16 – Switch to wood if use oil or propane
2:32 – Where to get more information
2:48 – Lead out



Sevie Kenyon: Heating with propane or oil? Time to think about using wood. We’re visiting today with Scott Sanford, Department of Biological Systems Engineering University of Wisconsin-Madison in the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, and I’m Sevie Kenyon.

Scott, what are some of the options people have to use wood?

Scott Sanford: Well we’ve got a number of options, you know it depends on the size of the heating system, but for residential or small commercial, it could be cordwood, it could be pelleted wood or if you have a larger system it could be wood chips.

Sevie Kenyon: Scott, describe for us some of the differences between those types of wood.

Scott Sanford: Cordwood would be, you cut the tree down you split it up into pieces, you dry it for a couple years and then you get to use it. The second would be woodchips and typically it’s part of the tree that is not useable, you chip it up into chips and that can be used for fuel. And then the third, they take those chips, or the sawdust say the wood manufacturing, and they compress it into a pellet and then that can be used for a fuel in a pellet stove.

Sevie Kenyon: And Scott, is there enough supply of wood around for people to consider using wood?

Scott Sanford: Yes, we have ample supply of wood in the state and with the disappearance of some of our paper mills actually produce an excess of wood availability in the state, so yes wood can be a very good buy in that regard.

Sevie Kenyon: And Scott what should people consider if they are going to add wood burning to their system?

Scott Sanford: Pick the wood-burning appliance that is going to fit your needs the best and make sure it’s efficient. Outdoor wood boilers are often attractive, but they actually are fairly high priced compared to, for instance and outdoor wood boiler to use for a house might cost over $10,000. You can buy a pellet boiler of the same capacity for about half the price installed. So one to make sure they are an efficient unit that doesn’t smoke, high amounts of smoke means low efficiency. The outdoor wood boilers, the older type are about 40 percent efficient, newer ones that pass the EPA regulations now are upwards of about 65-70 percent efficient. Verses a pellet stove that’s about 80 percent efficient, and some pellet stoves with a condensing heat exchanger are over 90 percent efficient.

Sevie Kenyon: Scott, who should consider either adding or switching to a wood system?

Scott Sanford: Well anybody that is on propane or heating oil, you know, it usually would cost flow out, in that case. If somebody is on natural gas, stick with natural gas, that is going to be the lowest cost fuel available, unless you like the ambiance of wood.

Sevie Kenyon: Scott if people are interested, where can they get more information?

Scott Sanford: Well we have a series of webinars coming up that is going to cover this topic. You can get more information from Google Wisconsin wood energy and go to the events page, it will be listed there as to how you can get information

Sevie Kenyon: We’ve been visiting with Scott Sanford, Department of Biological Systems Engineering University of Wisconsin-Madison in the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, and I’m Sevie Kenyon.


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