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Future Firewood Demand Optimism?

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12 hours ago, neiln said:

Yeah WFH last winter I burnt 12+M3, instead of about 8.5.  I'm not sure the cost increase of gas will drive people to wood if they buy it.... Is more likely to go the other way as per Irish potato famine. When the spud harvest failed prices went up, people couldn't afford their usual diet and were forced to give up the expensive bits (meat) to afford the staple (spuds) and actually consumed more spuds not less.  Gas =spuds, meat=luxury firewood. This scenario only applies to those that are hand to mouth and can't reduce savings or cut another luxury to afford to gas price hike though.  For the other, more wealthy, you could see an increased demand as wood costs less more then gas but more likely you buyers will accept a similar %age increase.. In so stick £10-20 on your price for a cube.

 

 

It may be that electricity demand causes power cuts and gas limitations 

Has there ever been a gas cut or is that too dangerous?

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If all central heating and all cars are to move to electricity then there will have to be BIG infrastructure changes.  We have yet to be able to phase out gas power stations with renewables, let alone provide for the much increased demand that will occur if this is to become reality.  Big infrastructure investment has to be paid for suggesting higher prices so it is certainly possible there will be more demand for logs.  However, the large volume of logs needed to heat a house and the faff (relative to gas or electricity) or reloading boilers I suspect will limit the demand.

 

Another thought is that if houses have to use heat pumps and they just aren't that good at producing high temps to heat the house then wood burners might be an option people turn to to supliment them.  We do this with gas at the moment, I could just use gas but the direct heat of the wood burner is nice and means I burn less gas than I otherwise would (and I like hitting things with an axe :) )

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9 hours ago, Rob_the_Sparky said:

if houses have to use heat pumps and they just aren't that good at producing high temps to heat the house

Because they pump heat to a lower temperature than a traditional wet system with radiators but still higher than room temperature they need much more heat exchange area, Floors can be big heat exchangers and only need to be heated slightly above room temperature, as the heat rises,

 

The bigger problem is getting up to the 50C+ for domestic hot water and worse still heating the whole wet system up to 60c+ once a day to combat legionnaire disease bacteria.

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I don't want to consider the cost of ripping up all our floors :(  Good points wrt hot water and bacteria, not ones I was aware of.  Does that mean some sort of supplementary system is a necessity?

 

The other problems with heat pumps is they work to generate a temperature differential.  If the medium you are using to exchange to gets colder then the max temperature generated also drops.  A particular issue with air based heat exchangers, as the air temperature drops then the max temp they can generate also drops.  I.e. just when you need more heating power, the amount available reduces.

 

I'm interested to see how all this pans out.  OK for new builds although builders are prone to doing the minimum they have to and fitting an air based exchanger is MUCH easier then a ground (or water - I.e. lake/pond) based system.  For retro-fit systems what is not always considered is whether the existing mains infrastructure can actually support them (plus the power for the electric car).  My brother in-law gave up on his heat exchanger plans after he found out the cost of installing a second mains feed to the house to power it (he does live out in the sticks so it would had to have come a long way).

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My brother replaced his oil boiler with air source heat pump a decade ago and after some initial teething had been happy.  Your need bigger rads ideally as they won't be quite so warm, and I think he has the heating on a little longer, but still has a warm house and saves money Vs oil.  I suspect the cost Vs mains gas won't look quite so good.... And Vs scrounged firewood, bloody awful!

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My brother replaced his oil boiler with air source heat pump a decade ago and after some initial teething had been happy.  Your need bigger rads ideally as they won't be quite so warm, and I think he has the heating on a little longer, but still has a warm house and saves money Vs oil.  I suspect the cost Vs mains gas won't look quite so good.... And Vs scrounged firewood, bloody awful!



Heating oil 10 years ago was 61p a litre and today it’s under 50p. Taking inflation into account that 61p would be £1 today. So heating oil is less than half of what it was then. I find oil fairly cheap but then we do have 2 x 10kw Stoves in the house as well and all the free firewood I can feed them with. I expect to put 40 m3 lose filled bags through this coming season.
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Jeez us!  Do you leave the windows open or is it a mansion! 40!  A poorly insulated 3 bed semi here, heated purely with ~ 12m³ wood

 

Since I'm on gas (but actually burn wood) I don't follow oil prices but know my brother is happy with it now. I was surprised he swapped when he did, but the house is warm and it's not expensive.  He does top up with a few cube through a 7 or 8 kW stove.

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30 cube a year, heating a 102 square metre detached (and fairly exposed to wind) old farmhouse in Devon. Sod all insulation. It's just a 20kw stove in the middle of the house. We have to have a little electric radiator on in my younger daughter's room overnight when it's properly cold.

 

I can't see wood catching on in any serious sense. Increasingly restrictive legislation (Woodsure Scheme etc), lack of national supply, extremely high firewood cost and idiot customers who won't season their own all restrict the market's potential to grow.

 

Heat pumps are the way to go I think. The majority of houses in Sweden are on geothermal or air source heat pumps, despite the obviously massive availability of timber and it's much lower cost. That said, electricity being 2-4 pence a kilowatt hour certainly incentivises it. 

 

Insulation is the main issue here. Most houses are terribly insulated. Even new builds (where there is no excuse whatsoever for shoddy specification and workmanship) have the thermal efficiency of a paper bag. My brother's new build in Exeter is always markedly hotter in a heatwave in summer and chillier in winter than our crappy old farmhouse.

 

Anyway, I've planted about 62 hectares of eucalyptus nitens down here, so I'm sure we'll find out how good a firewood that is in a few years :D

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56 minutes ago, Big J said:

That said, electricity being 2-4 pence a kilowatt hour certainly incentivises it. 

Tends to be cheap where there's hydropower, renewable too.

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6 hours ago, Rob_the_Sparky said:

Good points wrt hot water and bacteria, not ones I was aware of.  Does that mean some sort of supplementary system is a necessity?

My only experience was with a system for 8 flats and that was probably deemed a commercial installation, domestic may not have the same requirement. AFAIK a gas boiler heated the lot up for an hour once a day, no sense in that particular scheme at all and the flats would have been much better off with a gas combi each, probably using less gas overall too.

 

I don't understand why heat pumps are so expensive, they are only big fridges and fridges run for years with no problems.

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