Coming from Alberta, home heating in Nova Scotia caught me a little off guard. In Alberta, heating your home is done through Natural Gas, piped to your home through underground pipes and is magically injected into your home as you need it. That’s not how things work here. In Nova Scotia, there are three forms of home heating: electricity, heating oil, and wood. Electricity is expensive, really expensive, “don’t even think about it” expensive; oil is convenient, but a little on the expensive side; therefore, many people heat their homes with some form of wood.
I was very surprised to learn that wood is an active, and modern heat source for homes. I always had images of giant cook-stoves, and was really surprised to see a modern furnace in our home. Wood heating comes in two forms: wood, and pellets. Pellets are heavily used in urban areas because they have fewer visible emissions, and are by far more convenient. The alternate, and what we have, is wood: good old fashion hunks of wood. Our new home has a Wood/Oil combination furnace. This means that we can burn oil on one side, and start a wood fire on the other. This is great for us because we then have the choice between convenience and expense.
A cord is a stack of wood, measuring 4 x 4 x 8 feet (128 feet3), stacked as tightly as possible. Stacked as tightly as possible is a little bit of a vague definition, but in reality is a very good one. Given wood is somewhat odd shaped, stacking it will lead to airspace, therefore, to settle the matter, you can either determine you don’t like the way the wood is stacked and walk away from the purchase, or attempt to stack it tighter.
After asking around, we determined that most people burn about 6 cords of wood every year. We know we will only be there for half the season, but wood keeps year-to-year, so we decided to purchase the full six. For those of you keeping track, we are up to 768 feet3.
That’s a lot of wood.
Wood for home heating should be Hardwood. Apparently, there is a significant difference between the heat energy per pound between hardwoods and softwoods.
Once we had our 6 cords of wood delivered, it needed to be stacked indoors. You see, just having the wood is not enough, it needs to be dry. There is no point in converting a bunch of water into steam, and sending the steam up your chimney. That’s energy that could be heating your home.
Naturally, as soon as the wood was delivered, it started raining. The giant tarp I used to use for camping looked like a blue zit on an elephant’s rump. Fortunately, Canadian Tire had big tarps on sale so we picked up two. Good thing, because each tarp covered about 3 cords of wood.
Over the next 3 weekends, we stacked wood and finally had a nice looking stack of wood in the barn. This will keep it dry for the winter. Now we just need to deal with the other 3 cords of wood.