Burn smart, burn clean and save money

Are you wasting fire wood? If you see smoke coming out your chimney, you are!

That’s because smoke is unburned wasted fuel, which means you’re likely to end up buying or chopping more wood, stacking more wood, and making more trips to the wood pile to fuel-up your wood stove or fireplace. Using your wood stove properly can help you save money, improve heat efficiency and help air quality. 
The Olympic Region Clean Air Agency, in partnership with members of the Northwest Hearth, Patio Barbecue Association, is offering free clinics to teach you how to get more heat from your wood while protecting our air. An expert from the hearth industry will lead the clinics on Saturday, January 23 at 11 a.m. All participants who attend will receive a coupon for a FREE wood moisture meter.
Clinics will be held at two North Peninsula locations:
Everwarm Hearth & Home, 257151 Highway 101, Port Angeles; (360) 452-3366
Strait Flooring, 1915 E. Sims Way, Port Townsend; (360) 452-3366

Improper burning practices can be downright unneighborly – and against the law. Filling your neighborhood with smoke can cause poor air quality, impact people’s health, and lead to a burn ban. Whether you’re a new wood stove owner or have had one for some time, you might be surprised to learn that you may be able get more heat, save money and reduce the amount of wood you use by up to a third, just by learning how to operate your stove more effectively.
Here are five steps to a cleaner, more efficient fire:
Select the right fuel: Properly seasoned wood is darker, has cracks in the end grain, and sounds hollow when smacked against another piece of wood.  Use a wood moisture meter to tell if your wood is ready to burn. It should have 20 percent moisture or less. Or just knock on it. If it sounds hollow, it’s probably seasoned.  Dry, seasoned wood provides more heat than green, unseasoned or wet wood.

Start your fire right – small, hot fires are best:  It’s important to use smaller pieces of seasoned firewood when starting your fire so it will become a good, hot fire quickly.  

Get your stove hot: The key is to get the stove hot enough so it will perform as designed and re-burn the smoke. Then add larger pieces of wood one at a time as needed instead of loading your stove with several large pieces at once. 

Maintain the fire: For older, uncertified wood stoves, be sure not to close the damper or air control too much. That makes the fire smolder and smoke. Don’t overload any stove, which also causes smoldering. This creates too much smoke, produces less heat, builds up creosote in your chimney, and wastes your fuel and money.

Keep the doors closed:  Unless you are adding more wood, keep the doors closed so the stove will operate as designed.  When the doors are open, you are losing heat up the chimney.

By following these steps, you’ll use less wood for the same amount of heat, produce far less smoke, and keep your stove in better working condition with less creosote build up.
To learn when a burn ban is in effect because local air quality is poor and a risk to public health:  sign up to receive e-mail notices, check at or call 1-800-422-5623.

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