FIREWOOD: the feel-good home heating fuel! :)


Feel good about heating with wood

There may be those who mistakenly think that wood is an old fuel on the way out. But some traditions are worth maintaining. Like close family bonds, a healthy community, and the rewards of hard work. Just because wood is a traditional fuel does not mean it should go out of fashion. Wood is a natural fuel, and by using it, you stay in touch with the earth’s natural cycles. You also gain an awareness of the environmental impacts of your energy use.
When you buy firewood, the money you spend does not go to a large utility outside your community, region or even province. It tends to stay close by, circulating within your community and strengthening the local economy.
And there are few things more satisfying than building a natural wood fire on your hearth, then sitting back to delight in its beauty and soak up its warmth. You can feel good about heating with wood in several different ways.

Think of firewood as solar energy stored in trees.

Yes, wood heating is environmentally appropriate

Did you know that by heating your house with wood or burning wood in your fireplace for enjoyment, you are taking a stand in favor of the environment? It’s true, heating your home with wood does not contribute to the greenhouse effect the way fossil fuels like oil, gas and coal do. When oil, gas and coal are burned, carbon that has been buried within the earth for tens of thousands of years is released in the form of carbon dioxide, a by-product of combustion. The result is an increase in the atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide, the main cause of the greenhouse effect.
Although carbon makes up about half the weight of firewood and is released as carbon dioxide when the wood is burned, it is part of a natural cycle. A tree absorbs carbon dioxide from the air as it grows and incorporates this carbon in its structure. When the tree falls and decays in the forest, or is processed into firewood and burned, the carbon is released again to the atmosphere. This cycle can be repeated forever without increasing atmospheric carbon. Heating with wood, therefore, does not contribute to the greenhouse effect. Moreover, when wood energy displaces the use of fossil fuels, the result is a net reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.

Wood heating and the forest

If the destruction of tropical rain forests causes global warming and if planting trees in Canada is a good strategy to control greenhouse gas concentrations, then how can using wood for home heating be justified? Good question. The answer lies in the natural cycle of growth, maturity, decay and re-growth of trees and forests. A healthy forest is not a museum, but a living community of plants and animals. When trees are used for energy, a part of the forest’s carbon “bank” is diverted from the natural decay and forest fire cycle into our homes to heat them.
The key to ecologically sound and sustainable wood energy is to ensure that the forest remains healthy, maintains a stable level of variously aged trees and provides a good habitat for a diversity of other species, both plants and animals. You can do your part by insisting on firewood that is harvested using sustainable forestry practices. Ask your fuel wood supplier about the origins of the firewood and make it clear that you are concerned about the sustainability of our forest resources. And finally, don’t demand a load of perfectly uniform pieces; there are better uses for long, straight logs than burning them.

It’s natural, it’s renewable.
Heck, it grows on trees!

Getting the most from your firewood

One of the great things about wood heating is that you are in control. There are steps you can take to conserve fuel and produce less smoke. For example, by buying your firewood early in the season and storing it under cover to dry for the summer, you’ll get more heat for every dollar you spend. Also, make sure the wood is sized correctly for your stove, fireplace or furnace – both the length and diameter influence the quality of burn and ease of use. If you have access to them, burn softer woods like poplar, aspen and birch in the fall and spring and save the more valuable fuels like maple and oak for the coldest part of the winter. If your woodburning appliance is more than ten years old, you might want to take a look at the new generation of wood heaters. The stoves and fireplaces that are certified as having low smoke emissions (usually by EPA; ask your dealer) are also about 25% more efficient than the older models. By choosing your firewood carefully, by storing it to dry properly, and by burning it in an up-to-date stove or fireplace, you can reduce by about half the amount of wood needed to heat your house. And you’ll be doing the environment a favor at the same time.

FIREWOOD: Preparing your fuel supply


By far the most important characteristic of any firewood is its moisture content. Firewood with a moisture content higher than twenty percent will burn, but it will be hard to light and keep burning and will make a lot of smoke. Plus much of its energy content will be wasted right up the chimney. Firewood should be between 15 and 20 percent moisture to burn properly and to get that dry it must be split and stacked in the open for at least a full summer.

Lots of people have been mislead by old timers who say that white ash (for example) can be burned green. Sure it will burn, but very badly because it has a natural moisture content of over 30 percent. While that is lower than most species, it is still much too wet for efficient burning. Some advice from old timers is helpful, but not in this case.

What is the best tree species for firewood? While there is always room for debate, we like to suggest that the best species in your area is the one that is most plentiful, easy to split and doesn’t cover your hands and clothes with sticky sap.

All wood, regardless of species, has about the same energy content per pound. The different species vary only in density.  Traditionally, the favored trees in central North America were oak and maple because they are very dense and produce long-lasting coals.  But these are valuable trees and in many areas are not plentiful enough to burn.  No problem, just use softer woods like birch or poplar (aspen) or any other tree that is readily available.  Keep in mind that people living in the coldest areas of North America have no hardwoods to burn and they get along just fine.  Ultimately, it is more important to have wood that is cut and split to the right size and properly dried than it is to get the hardest wood available.

Above & Beyond Tree Service provides its customers with the highest quality hardwood from locally removed trees. We have available PREMIUM, HIGH QUALITY, SEASONED and SEMI-SEASONED hardwood that will surely exceed your expectations.

Please contact us using our convenient webform, as we sell various types of product depending on your needs.

TREE VALUES – Final Part

The International Society of Arboriculture publishes in its tree care website the following guidelines on planning for a beautiful, valuable landscaping for all needs. At ABOVE AND BEYOND – TREE SERVICE we can help you planning your next tree project!  Contact us if you have any questions!

Four Factors in Professional Valuation of Trees and Other Plants

Size. Sometimes the size and age of a tree are such that it cannot be replaced. Trees that are too large to be replaced should be assessed by professionals who use a specialized appraisal formula.

Species or classification. Trees that are hardy, durable, highly adaptable, and free from objectionable characteristics are most valuable. They require less maintenance; they have sturdy, well-shaped branches, and pleasing foliage. Tree values vary according to your region, the “hardiness” zone, and even state and local conditions. If you are not familiar with these variables, be sure your advice comes from a competent source.

Condition. The professional will also consider the condition of the plant. Obviously, a healthy, well-maintained plant has a higher value. Roots, trunk, branches, and buds need to be inspected

Location. Functional considerations are important. A tree in your yard may be worth more than one growing in the woods. A tree standing alone often has a higher value than one in a group. A tree near your house or one that is a focal point in your landscape tends to have more value. The site, placement, and contribution of a tree to the overall landscape help determine the overall value of the plant attributable to location.

All of these factors can be measured in dollars and cents. They can determine the value of a tree, specimen shrubs, or evergreens, whether for insurance purposes, court testimony in lawsuits, or tax deductions.


These steps should be taken before and after any casualty loss to your trees and landscape. Taking them can improve the value of your investment in nature’s green, growing gifts and prevent financial loss should they be damaged or destroyed.

  • Plan your landscaping for both beauty and functional value.
  • Protect and preserve to maintain value.
  • Take pictures of trees and other landscape plants now while they are healthy and vigorous. Pictures make “before and after” comparisons easier and expedite the processing of insurance claims or deductions for losses on federal tax forms.
  • Check your insurance. In most cases, the amount of an allowable claim for any one tree or shrub is a maximum of $500.
  • For insurance, legal, and income tax purposes, keep accurate records of your landscape and real estate appraisals on any losses.
  • Consult your local Plant Health Care professional at every stage in the life cycle of your landscape (planning, planting, care) and to make sure you do not suffer needless financial loss when a casualty strikes.