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Firewood Users Leo and Aino

  • Heating target: detached house
  • Area: approx. 84 m²
  • Fuel: firewood
  • Main source of heat: wood-burning stove, air-source heat pump
  • Extra source of heat/thermal storage: electricity

Leo and Aino have burned wood for heating purposes for nearly 80 years now. Back in the day they had dairy cattle, and wood consumption was 60 stacked cubic metres a year, when everything was heated up with wood. In 1975 the farm got central heating, which naturally ran on wood.

In the new house the pensioners have lived for seven years. The house has direct electric heating, air-source heat pump and wood-fired stove with air-circulation heating system. The area to be heated is approximately 84 m².

“At best we have burned ten bulk cubics wood in the stove. The electric heaters are rarely on, only during the biggest freezes. The air-source heat pump spreads the heat from the stove evenly into the whole house,” Leo tells and continues that “electric heating is a good and easy choice in our old days. We still have the possibility to use wood as much as we can, according to our own managing”.

“It’s also a nice place to cook and bake, the wood stove. And it saves electricity,” says Aino, and Leo adds: “We don’t consume more than 70 kWh during big freezes and 40 kWh when it’s milder”.

As a tip for beginners and the younger generation Leo tells a proverb: “Back in the day when birches were felled for log floating, they were felled when the leaves had stopped growing. Then the trees were left unpruned, so that the moisture would escape through the leaves and the wood would be as dry as possible. Before floating the ends of the trunk were tarred to prevent them soaking up water”.

Firewood User Lempi

  • Heating target: two-storey detached house
  • Area: approx. 100 m²
  • Fuel: firewood
  • Main source of heat: fireplace and tiled stove
  • Extra source of heat/thermal storage:  electric heaters, wood-burning stove

“The Flower-Granny”, 90-year-old Lempi, has heated her house with wood for at least 70 years now. A few years ago her post-war house got new electric heaters. The electric heaters help during big freezes, and make it possible for Lempi to heat with wood when her condition is good enough. The idyllic house gets its heat mainly from the large fireplace placed in the middle of the house, and from a tiled stove.

Lempi gets firewood from her own forests, with the help of volunteers. Even though Lempi is still capable of heating up her house, children and grandchildren have a major role in enabling the wood heating. Alongside their other work, this heating season the home help service have some days assisted Lempi in lighting a fire in the fireplaces. Lempi’s family, and also an acquaintance from the village come by and help to carry the firewood from woodshed to the house.

“I do recommend wood heating. It is so nice and cosy when fire is crackling in your own fireplace. Heat is so different when it comes from wood. Electric heat feels different. Flowers like to grow in the heat from the wood,” says the Flower-Granny and continues that “in the winter there is enough heat when I burn one fire per day in both ovens”.

“This gives you functional exercise, this heating with wood. You can stay longer living in your own house when you do some exercising. It is also good for the forest, when you take the wood that’s left over after thinning,” guides the uncrowned queen of bioenergy the younger generation and smiles charmingly.   

Ahola Farm

  • Heating target: two-storey detached house
  • Area: approx. 500 m²
  • Fuel: firewood
  • Source of heat: central heating boiler (60 kW), hot-water tank (1 600 l)

Throughout its history, the Ahola farm has been heated with wood. Because of forestry and economical reasons, wood has been a natural choice. Around 1950–1960 the house got a water-circulation heating system. In winter 2012 the wood boiler (60 kW) and hot-water tank (1 600 l) were renewed.

The house has around 500 m² to be heated, and room height is a little higher than normally, so there are plenty of cubic metres to be heated. The heating centre has been situated 40 metres away from the house, well landscaped on a slope. An underground heat pipe transmits the heat to the house. Heat has been sufficient.

“Last year we got a new heating boiler. Had the time been different, I would have chosen ground heat, because making firewood takes time and heating with wood demands presence,” comments the farm owner, Ilkka. “I didn’t choose wood chips, because I think with them more problems might occur. Straight wood warming is better, there are less flaw-sensitive spots,” comments Ilkka his choice of fuel.

“Sometimes it is hard trying to fit together the timetables of ploughing and preparing the wood. Otherwise this surely is a good heating form, and affordable, too. Everything has always worked richly, you just have to feed the system with wood. In the winter I burn two fires a day, when it’s warmer one fire is enough. Ashes I remove in every 3–5 days.”

In the Ahola farm, wood is prepared with own machines all the way from the forest to the boiler room. The yearly consumption is 45–50 stacked cubic metres. Long logs (75 cm) fit nicely into the burner. Preparing wood takes approximately five days a year. “With a good machine and high-quality wood, it takes about one hour to make up to 10 cubics of wood,” Ilkka counts.

Editor’s comment: If the farm was heated up with oil, the estimated consumption would be 5 500 litres every year. The cost of this in 2012 would be 6 300 euros.

Firewood Users Ilpo and Mirja

  • Heating target: two-storey round timber villa
  • Area: 120 m²
  • Fuel: firewood
  • Main source of heat: Ukko-oven with an integrated hot-water tank (400 l)
  • Extra source of heat/thermal storage:  fire place, wood-burning stove, electric resistance.

Ilpo and Mirja are living in retirement in their round timber villa, which they heat up with wood. The villa has 120 m². The heating centre is wood-fired Ukko-oven, which heats up the hot service water and underfloor heating in the washroom and hall. It also functions as an always-ready-to-use sauna stove. The oven has also a 400 litre hot-water tank with an electric resistance, but so far it has never been needed.

“Wood consumption is about 20 stacked cubic metres per year, depending on the quality. During big freezes we use two carrying baskets of logs a day, during normal freeze-ups one is enough. “It depends on the wood, if it’s decent or bad,” Ilpo tells and his wife continues: “the best wood is saved for the big freezes”.

“First we thought we’d heat with electricity, but we changed our minds. Luckily the oven fit into the sauna area, like we planned. We’re very happy with this system. We have a fire place, too, but it’s rarely used. It takes about one week of the year to prepare the wood, and it’s practically free, since it’s felled from our own forests. We don’t count in the chain saw gas or our own work contribution”, Ilpo explains the situation.

“We have always heated with wood, one way or the other. When I was a farmer back in the 70’s, it was the year 1977, I used wood for heating. In 1987 I started to use wood chips, because it was so easy. There was a lot of space to be heated up. Washing water for the cowshed had to be heated, and drinking water for the cows, it had to be at certain temperature,” Ilpo reminisces. “Luckily water has always run on its own weight, and not a single pump has been lost in 50 years.”

“We’ve always thought it wise to use wood, for the sake of forestry. And I like preparing firewood, I’m used to it. If I didn’t own forest and I’d start building a house, I’d choose pellet heating,” Ilpo gives a hint to the younger generation.

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