Kiwis Beat Firewood Shortage with Azwood Pellets
Recent news stories have highlighted the nationwide shortage of firewood, with regions such as Christchurch, Taranaki, Bay of Plenty and Wellington being particularly hard hit. Many firewood suppliers say it is getting harder to supply the market and the situation is set to get worse going forward. How can you future-proof your home heating whilst benefitting the environment and saving money?
The current export price for logs is making it hard for firewood sellers to compete. Logs previously sourced for firewood are now being sold as the lowest grade log in the export market. Specifically, a recent surge in exports to more than 1.1 million cubic metres of logs per month has created a shortage of some specific firewood varieties.
Strong demand from an early and prolonged winter last year has also affected the supply available this year. This has been exacerbated by a wet season, limiting the ability of suppliers to produce seasoned dry wood. Consumers have been warned to watch out for "cowboys" selling wet wood on social media. The high demand for dry firewood has seen prices skyrocket to more than $419 per trailerload in some areas.
More and more Kiwis have decided to future-proof their natural fire home heating by installing a pellet burner. Because they still want the heat of a fire with the convenience and reliability of pellets.
New Zealand’s Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority’s ENERGYWISE advise pellet burners are a very environmentally friendly and clean heating option.
Pellets are made from 100% renewable, carbon neutral wood residue that has a controlled density and moisture level, so the pellets burn with more consistency than logs and cause less air pollution. It is for this reason that low-emission pellet burners are allowed where council air quality plans don’t allow open fires or new wood burners, such as Canterbury and parts of Nelson.
Pellet burners that have been tested and found to meet the National Environmental Standards for Air Quality can be found on the Ministry for the Environment’s website here.
Pellet burners are available as freestanding models, can be fitted into an existing fireplace or custom built to suit. Whilst the initial outlay for a pellet burner is slightly more than for a woodburner, it is comparable to installing a heat pump or gas fireplace.
The long-term savings on fuel costs, particularly given the current and probable future costs of firewood, are marked. One tonne of wood pellets, enough for a season, has the heat value of 5 m³ of firewood and it stacks easily in one third of the space.
Pellets are clean and convenient, ignite easily and flow well as part of an automated feeding system. They are a labour-saving product, unlike firewood which requires chopping, splitting and stacking. And it takes about one minute to clean out the minimal ash produced by pellets.
Many pellet fire models even feature Wi-Fi technology, where you can turn your fire on and control it from your smartphone, to heat the house before you arrive home, or from the comfort of your bed on a cold winter’s morning.
Pellets are the densest form of wood fuel, containing at least 30% less moisture than firewood, so are a more efficient, clean-burning and high energy source of heating. With consistent fuel leading to high burning efficiency and less ash production, pellet burners produce warmth at around 12 to 26 cents per kilowatt hour, depending on pellet fuel prices. This compares favourably with wood burners, which can cost up to 22 cents per kilowatt hour, even when historical, lower firewood costs are taken into account.
The most cost-effective way to buy pellet fuel is by purchasing Azwood Energy’s Firetime®, which will provide around 20 hours of continuous heating. For the premium pellet fire experience there is Onfire® Premium, with added value benefits and convenience. For super-eco-friendly Kiwis, Azwood also produce Eco Pellets – the same, quality-controlled, tested, certified and accredited carbon neutral wood fuel, made from 100% natural, recycled and renewable materials – now matched with 100% recyclable packaging.
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