How to Save Money on Firewood
Heating your home with a wood stove or fireplace? Here's how to save on firewood:
Scout Contruction Sites
New construction generates a lot of waste – and lumber is a big part of it. Hone in on a construction project in your community; then, talk to the job foreman to see if he'd be willing to let you have their lumber cast offs. It'll help to cut down on their dumping fees, so you probably won't have to work too hard for a yes.
Note: Pressure-treated lumber shouldn't be used as firewood. It releases dangerous toxins when burned.
Curb Shop for Firewood
If you live in a town with large trash collection, try curb shopping for your firewood. Just cruise around a few neighborhoods, and look for logs that have been drug out to the road after a recent tree trimming or removal. Not sure if that primo pile is up for grabs? Just ask.
Tip: Also, be on the lookout for shipping pallets. They're usually made of hardwoods like oak, and burn beautifully.
Get Wood from National Forests
Contact your nearest National Forest to see what their firewood policy is. Many will issue a permit that allows you to cut wood from within the park if you stick to a few rules.
Put Out the Word
Tell your friends and family that you're looking for free (or cheap) firewood; post a request on Freecycle; leave a note tacked to a community bulletin board. The more people who know what you're after, the more likely you are to get it.
Only Burn Well-Seasoned Wood
Wood that has been seasoned for the proper length of time is easier to light, burns hotter and longer and creates less creosote. So, how long should you let your firewood sit before putting it to use? At least a year. That'll give it enough time for the sap to dry and for the wood to lose most of its water weight.
Note: You'll find lots of ads for firewood, but don't count on it to be well-seasoned wood. In fact, you should probably expect most of it not to be (Sellers of aged wood set their prices higher to account for the extra time involved.) Save cash and get more heat out of your purchase by buying your firewood a year ahead.
Make Sure You're Getting What You Paid For
If you're paying for seasoned wood, it should look seasoned – gray and cracked at the ends, not orange and sappy. If you're paying for a cord of wood, you should receive a stack that measures eight feet long by four feet wide and four feet tall. If you're paying for hardwood, the logs should have considerable weight to them, and be easily identifiable as a hardwood.