Q - I often use my wood-burning fireplace in my living room and I may get an airtight wood-burning stove for my family room. How should I determine which types of firewood to buy? H. S.
A - Burning the proper types of firewood can greatly affect the heat output and enjoyment of using your fireplace. Although a fireplace is not very energy efficient, it can help heat your home on mild fall and spring evenings. An airtight wood-burning stove is much more energy efficient.When you select firewood, the most important factors to consider are its heat content and burning characteristics. Also, the aroma given off is particularly important in an open fireplace. Many of the fruit, nut and cedar woods give off particularly pleasant scents.
The heat content of wood is basically a function of the weight of the wood. As a rule of thumb, wood gives off about 7,000 Btu of heat per pound.
Resinous woods give off a bit more heat per pound, but they produce more creosote in your chimney. The weight of woods varies from about 25 pounds per cubic foot to more than 70 pounds per cubic foot.
Although a cord of wood is technically four feet high, four feet deep, and eight feet long, you won't get 128 cubic feet of wood. There are many gaps between the logs, especially with large logs. You can figure on an average of 90 cubic feet per cord unless the wood is stacked very tightly.
You can calculate the heat content of a cord of wood by multiplying the actual volume of wood by the weight per cubic foot by 7,000 Btu. For example, a loosely-stacked cord of sugar maple has a heat content of 23,520,000 Btu (80 cubic feet x 42 pounds per cubic foot x 7,000 Btu per pound).
The most common general classifications of firewoods are hardwood and softwood. Deciduous trees are typically denser hardwoods and conifers are less-dense softwoods.
Don't limit your selection to all dense hardwoods to get the highest heat content. The softer resinous wood is easier to burn and is excellent for starting the fire. Then you can add the denser, high heat content logs.
If you plan to burn the wood soon, make sure that it is well-seasoned.
Otherwise it is difficult to burn and it creates a lot of creosote. Look for splits and checks in the ends of the logs. Knock two logs together. Wellseasoned logs make a sharp ringing sound, not a dull thud.
You can write to me for UTILITY BILLS UPDATE No. 131 showing a list of 140 different types of firewoods, heat contents, and unique characteristics.
Write to James Dulley, The Deseret News, 6906 Royal Green Drive, Cincinnati, OH 45244. Please include $1.00 and a self-addressed business-size envelope.
Q - We use a window air conditioner in the summer in our bedroom. Should we take it out of the window in the winter or just cover it with one of the vinyl jackets? R. T.
A - It is always a good idea to remove the air conditioner, both to protect it from the weather and to save energy. During the winter, the range in temperature from cold nights to sunny days causes needless stress to the component parts.
No matter how carefully you install a window air conditioner, there are always some air leaks around it and through it. An exterior vinyl jacket helps some, but cold air still leaks in. After you remove the air conditioner, carefully inspect the window weatherstripping. It is often compressed and damaged by the air conditioner.