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Thursday, November 3, 2016

Keeping the home fires burning



Things are different this year. When I usually head south for the winter getting ready for winter is more focused on getting the boat ready. This year my lovely wife and I are committed to being here for at least part of the winter. That requires winter prep.

My house is primarily heated in two different ways. There's an hot air oil furnace and a couple of woodstoves. Our favorite woodstove is the cookstove in the kitchen. Not only does it make the house toasty warm, we can cook on it and watch the pretty flames though the glass door.

For many years I did not get regular heating oil deliveries. The oil delivery company requires a minimum delivery of 100 gallons. That's a lot of money for a furnace that was rarely used. Instead of regular #2 heating oil, off road diesel works just fine. A trip with a couple 5 gallon fuel containers to the local gas station handled my limited needs just fine.

Right now heating oil is about half the cost of what it used to be. With that in mind I decided to get the oil tank completely filled for a change. One nice thing about the furnace is that we can leave the house for a few days and it stays warm. When we used just wood we'd either come home to a very cold house or had to have someone come by to feed the stoves.

I've some storm damaged hardwood trees that need to be cut up. They are dry and should make great firewood. The problem is that it's a tangled mess. There are broken tree tops hung up in other trees. It's too dangerous to handle by myself. (at least that's what my lovely wife tells me.) I'm stuck waiting for my tree guy to show up.

In the mean time I've burned some junk wood I've had around the house and Bio Blocks. They go by various names but they are basically the same a wood pellets for pellet stoves, only much bigger. They are designed to burn in regular woodstoves. The blocks burn well, are clean, and easy to work with.

This one is what one looks like in my hand.



I found out one of the local lumber yards will deliver if you buy it a ton at a time. This is what a ton of them looks like, all wrapped in weatherproof plastic. The lumber yard gave me a little flag to stick in the ground to indicate where to drop the pallet. The lift truck driver did a great job working in tight spaces.


The ton of blocks will hold me until my wood is cut up. I'm feeling a bit better about the winter.

This week I also bought 4 snow tires for my wife's car. Some people try and get by with all seasons. Heck, that what I would do myself if I was going to be here for only a small part of snow season. This year it's worth doing it right. Real snow tires on all 4 wheels makes all the difference in the world when conditions get nasty.

Of course, I'm still going to make sure the boat is ready to go if we decide we've had enough of winter. The heating oil and Bio Blocks aren't going to spoil.

-Sixbears

18 comments:

  1. go nuclear be easier

    Wildflower

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    Replies
    1. I often make use of a fusion source 93 million miles away.

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  2. These Bioblocks, are they like little PrestOlogs?
    I'm not sure if you remember those.
    Like sawdust squeezed into a foot long cylinder and wrapped with paper. You could just light the paper and let it burn.
    Kind of looks like it.

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    Replies
    1. Yep, remember those. These are different. Those paper wrapped logs have some kind of wax binder. Not a good idea for air tight stoves. The BioBlocks are basically just compressed sawdust. That's why they burn so clean.

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  3. almanac says bad winter this year, so the more wood the better.

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    1. I'll feel better when I get those trees cut up. At least I've bought some time with the oil and bioblocks.

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  4. I think you made a wise decision on filling your oil tank now. You haven't lost any space and your future needs are taken care of in advance - whats wrong with being prepared ?

    Those bio blocks are cool, I've never seen those before. I live waaaayy down there in deep South, and have little need for keeping warm enough in winter. Snow here is a once in a CENTURY type of even, with a hard freeze taking place every decade or so (last one was 1989 so we're overdue).

    Stay warm.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Staying warm is serious business in northern NH. At least I never have AC costs so there's that.

      Oil prices can suddenly jump so it's good to have a full tank.

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  5. If you do decide to head south I suggest you put those blocks somewhere hidden. Wouldn't want them to grow legs and walk. Hopefully this winter won't be too bad or you.

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    Replies
    1. They are going inside soon. We don't have a lot of problems with thieves around here. People don't even lock their doors.

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    2. Wish it were the same here.

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  6. You've got a good set up there. We have a Victorian kitchen stove in our kitchen on the main level of the house, and a wood burner in the basement. We have a Tennessee fieldstone fireplace. But, we usually heat with propane wall heaters these days. Wood takes so much physical work to cut up, haul out of my woods, haul up to the house, split, and stack. It's a lot now that I'm here with just the wife. So we tank up with propane in the summer, and keep the other wood burning heat sources for emergencies or , with the fire place, just for having a "comfortable" fire now and then.

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    1. Thank you.

      It's good to have a set up that doesn't need grid power to keep you from freezing. Even though you are far south I'm sure there are some darn cold days up on your mountain.

      I seem to remember talk of snow.

      Wood fire is comfortable. On cold days we tend to bring our activities into the kitchen next to the stove.

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  7. Those heating blocks are a great idea.

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    Replies
    1. I think so. Makes good use of waste sawdust.

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  8. Interesting; never saw those blocks before!

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    Replies
    1. I like the fact that you don't need a special stove to burn them, unlike pellet stoves.

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  9. I have used those type of blocks, called briquettes over here in the UK, for Les part two winters. The one I get are made out of the bark of the trees. They don't burn as hot as yours probably do, but they last much longer. I used a mix of ash, birch and bark briquettes and the stove will stay on all night. In fact last winter the stove stayed on 24 hours a day all winter. Joel

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