We cut down two massive tress but firewood has been in short supply from the property.
While we had cut down the two trees just after we arrived on the property, this was only six months before winter so particularly the gum was not properly dry to use for this winter's firewood.
|The cat enjoying the new fire|
The firebox has restricters so you can only load a certain amount of wood. This means very dry, hard wood works the best. This year we have been experimenting with the different types of wood because we got in two wood deliveries, one in June and a smaller one in early August. This year we probably went through about 6-7 square metres of wood. The dense, dry, hard woods really push out the heat.
This fire is designed to run all day and night and long term this is the plan. It is more like a central heating furnace. So if it is cold, it does take a couple of hours to crank out the high heat and then it will keep pushing out the heat even after the fire has gone out as the ceramic firebox releases the stored heat. In the morning, it can still feel warm to the touch even when the fire inside is out from the night before.
It would seem good hard woods are woods like gum, tree lucerne and Australian hard woods. Kanuka is one of the best but we don't have much of that currently growing and it seems to be frowned on to burn.
Next year more of hard wood will be dry so we are hoping to be able to keep the fire going while we are at work so we can come back to a warm home. We also hope to keep it going all night so in the morning it is still putting out the heat and we can just add more wood. We need the dry, dense, hard word for that as to fit enough in to keep it going, the logs need to be smaller.
In the middle of winter this fire did all the heating for our hot water too. We turned off the electricity to the cylinder. Sometimes it also cooked our dinner on the top hot plate too or roasted our harvested nuts in their shells. So despite buying in firewood this year, rather than being able to use our home chopped wood, we think we haven't paid any extra for heating because our power bills were the lowest they have been all year.
The fire didn't heat our whole house, but this is more to do with the windows not being air tight and the ceiling needing an upgrade in insulation.
We also bought a fan (the valient ventium III) that is purely driven by the change in heat between the base sitting on the hot fire and the top. It is very quiet and helps push the air down to the other end of our large living room.
As we have attempted to work out our firewood supplies for next season, we see they are linked to sunshine and insulation.
Our home is well positioned for sunshine. In winter, in the middle of the day, the living room can reach 26-28C purely from the sunshine. The insulation in the roof does need improving so while we try to capitalise on the sun heated room with the fire, we are losing heat out through the roof. In time for next winter we hope to have at least completed roof insulation in the living room and had the window seals fixed so they all seal properly. It will be interesting see what sort of difference that makes to the room temperature and the amount of firewood we need to burn to keep it warm.
Unfortunately it was only at the end of winter, that we had the brainwave about the pile of macrocarpa prunings in a far corner of the property. We had looked on this all summer as a fire hazard but despite this, it didn't occur to us to use the dry wood as kindling. Now it has. We fill the firebox with broken off sections of the slender branches and the fire starts with a real roar, kicking out the heat.
We hope in the future to grow a kanuka patch that we can enjoy but also harvest and keep sustainable to have a continuous supply of dense, dry, hard wood. For next year and several more years to come, our clean up work on the property has given us enough wood to store for the winters. But we will need to start planning that firewood of some kind to have mature enough to use once the clean up work is complete.