But the good news is that winter is winding up, and so is my consumption of wood forest products for heating. As with everything around the house, its not a matter of point and click, but of experimentation and adapting to changes in the fuel stream. Yes, even the type of wood pellets matter, and the wrong ones can give you headaches of one kind or another. Take a couple samples from the last few months:
I started out the winter with 80 bags of pellets stockpiled up in the garage, and picked up another 60 or so through some effort at the hardware store, as they only got a delivery in every other Friday, and it didn't last too long. There was even some talk of rationing them (egads, is the planet really running out of vegetation?), but I managed to keep a fair number on hand.
These early pellets were from an Arizona company called forest energy, located only a few hours away from Flagstaff--more good news for the environment (some of the brands I burned last year came from places as far as Canada). These pellets were light in color, probably made from local pine. They handled well, didn't break up in the feeder, and burned nice and hot. But by the end of January I was running out, and needed to restock; so back to the hardware store to see what they had.
To give homedepot credit, they had really turned up the heat, and had a mountain of pellets stacked up, probably 10 pallets wide, 4 deep and 3 high. Tons. They had my usual brand, but the contents didn't look the same. The pellets looked a little green. Now green is a great color for "marketing" your product. Heatrs is even advertised as 100% organic, whatever that means. But when it comes to the fuel itself, green brings to mind wet leaves and anemic fires. So I wasn't that excited about this latest batch. Still I picked some up, as well as a new brand.
At first glance the pellets from Pennington Seed look really nice. The pellets themselves are very hard, look somewhat like red oak--a nice hardwood for burning. Now when picking out firewood, your hardwoods are greatly preferred over softer woods like pine. So initially, I was thinking the red oak pellets would be a better deal than the old pine ones. But unfortunately, the benefit in firewood is that hardwoods are denser, and firewood is sold by volume, usually a cord which is four by four by eight feet. Pellets are sold by weight (like breakfast cerial), so having a denser product wouldn't provide any more heat, just a slightly more compact product.
In the end, I went back to buying Heatrs, because the pennington has a real problem with dust. Its obviously made from very fine waste sawdust, and a significant amount of it ends up in the bag, stuck around the edges in the stove, and in the air around the room. Luckily the mess is mostly contained in the basement, but once its floating around, the next thing that happens is that the fan kicks in and sucks it through the filter (clogging that) and then blowing what got through up into the house.
Anyways, with all that going on, here's the totals for Jan & Feb.
|Month||This year||Last year|