Saturday, December 3, 2011

Estimating Wood Needs

Since we started heating with wood, I have never known how much wood we burn in a year. I am always splitting more, and never have time to count cords. So I came up with a way to estimate how much wood I need in a year. And then, lo and behold, my favorite blog "Walden Effect" had a post on their wood supply.

So I thought I would share my method. This works with any kind of wood, I burn mostly cedar and cypress (gasp!). Because all wood has the same energy per kilogram. It just takes more pieces and chimney cleaning to burn softwoods.

Step 1. About how many days will you use your woodstove? It doesn't have to be exact, but it is better to over than under estimate. Here we usually burn from mid-November to mid-April. So 5 months. 5x30 is 150 days.
Like I said, this is not rocket science.
Step 2. How much wood do you use every day  on average? An easy way to figure that out is to fill your woodbox/rack in the morning, and count how many pieces of wood are in it. The next morning at about the same time, count again and subtract. We burn an average of 30 pieces of wood per day. The more days that you count it, the more accurate your estimate will become. Multiply your number by the heating days. In my case: 150 days x 30 pieces = 4500 pieces of wood. But who wants to count to 4500 when you are splitting? Not me.
Step 3. Go to your woodpile and count how many splits are in a square foot of face on your woodpile. (Yes, that is right, Mr. Metric says count in feet. The numbers are easier to imagine in this case) We average about 15 splits  (I split quite small, since I procrastinate so badly- they need to dry faster than other people's wood). With 32 square feet of face on a cord, that comes to 480 per tier. If you cut to 16 inch lengths (three tiers/cord), that is 1440 pieces per cord. If you cut to 12 inches like me (four tiers/cord), that is 1920.
Step 4. Divide your needs by the pieces/cord. For my case 4500 pieces/1920 pieces = 2.34375 cords. Let's round up and say two and a half cords.

Or you can just use my handy dandy Wood Needs Calculator.

So, now I should get out there splitting, 'cause I only have 1.5 cords split and stacked!

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