Thursday, October 29, 2009

Don't Burn Your Cash Buying Firewood

With colder weather ahead, high fuel prices and the popularity of energy-saving stoves and fireplace inserts, demand for firewood is high. The Department of Consumer Protection is offering some simple tips for getting a fair load of quality firewood without getting burned.

· Before you buy firewood or bring it home yourself, check with your community to see if there are any restrictions about where it can be placed on your property, how close it can be to adjoining properties and how much you can have.

· Buy your firewood from Connecticut wood dealers who are in the business of supplying firewood. Don't burn construction scrap or wood from other questionable sources. It’s strongly recommended that you buy Connecticut grown wood -- importing firewood from other parts of the country could easily import invasive pests like the Asian Longhorned Beetle and Emerald Ash Borer. The Connecticut Agricultural Station has information about identifying these pests and others at its website: Please call 203-974-8474 or email if you run across the Asian Longhorned Beetle.

· The price per cord of wood varies, depending on whether you are buying green or dry firewood. Green firewood is wood that has been recently cut and is still too wet to burn well. Dry, or seasoned, firewood has been stacked and dried for a period of at least six, but preferably twelve months. Green wood also creates creosote buildup in your chimney, while dry firewood burns efficiently and does not promote creosote buildup. If you're buying for this winter, you must get seasoned firewood. Oak, maple, elm and other hardwoods burn longer, generate more BTUs of heat and produce longer lasting coals.

· If you burn wood, particularly soft wood, you should get your chimney cleaned and inspected each year.

· The best way to know you're getting a fair price per cord is to check prices with multiple wood dealers in your area. It's also a good idea to ask friends, family and neighbors where they get their wood and how much they pay per cord. Currently, seasoned firewood in Connecticut is selling about $220 a cord, depending on the type of wood and area of the state.

· Know the length of wood that your stove, fireplace or fireplace insert can burn. The standard length for firewood is 16 inches, although some larger wood-burning units can take wood as large as 20 inches or more. Make sure you ask for the length you need when ordering firewood.

· Understand what a cord of wood is. A standard cord is a stack of wood that measures 4 feet high by 4 feet wide by 8 feet long and totals 128 cubic feet in all. Regardless of whether you order your wood chopped into lengths that will fit your stove or fireplace, once it’s delivered and stacked, a full cord will still measure a total of 128 cubic feet.

· If possible, go to the wood seller, check out the wood, load it and take it home yourself. Have firewood stacked on pallets to keep it off the ground.

· If you have firewood delivered, be home when it arrives, pay a little extra to have it stacked upon delivery, and then measure it. If you ordered a full cord and it isn't 4 feet high, 4 feet wide and 8 feet long or a total of 128 cubic inches, don't pay for it until the full cord is provided.

· While it can be difficult to tell whether you got a full cord from your wood dealer until you actually stack it, in general, two full-size pickup truckloads of wood equals one cord, and four compact pickup truckloads of firewood equals one cord. Remember, however, it must be stacked before it can be accurately measured.

· Because burning wood cleanly to minimize negative effects on air quality impacts is important, the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) recommends using wood burning stoves that are of latest possible technology, are well maintained and in good working order. Anyone considering outdoor wood burning furnaces should be aware of all state and local regulations governing their use. Additional information on air quality aspects of wood burning can be found at:

· Further information about purchasing firewood can be found in the Forestry section of the Department of Environmental Protection’s web site at:

· Finally, consumers who cannot resolve a dispute with a seller about a firewood delivery are welcome to contact the Department of Consumer Protection at 860-713-6168 or 1-800-842-2649.

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