Wood Fuel

Why Use Wood?

Wood fuel is a natural, sustainable, and carbon-efficient source of energy. For both economic and environmental reasons we need to find alternative, renewable fuels. With a rich supply of wood available in Cumbria, burning wood is an attractive and sensible solution.

If you're new to wood fuel

Considering switching to wood fuel no doubt raises lots of questions. Take your time to read about why you should burn wood in order to understand if it’s right for you. Take a look at Burning Wood Well to make sure you get the most from your wood.

If you already use wood fuel

There are lots of further options to consider and tips to improve your efficiency and save resources and money. The information and videos about Burning Wood Well will help you ensure that your wood fuel use is as economical as possible.

Why burn wood?

If you burn quality, dry wood fuel from a local supplier it is:

  • More affordable than oil or electricity.
  • Renewable and sustainable
  • Low-carbon and can reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 90% compared to fossil fuels

In the long-run, if more people burnt wood it would create a larger market for wood fuel, which would not only bring about competitive pricing but encourage the management of more woodland areas, promoting the many benefits of woodland management.

The Ready to Burn Certification Scheme is being introduced for the majority of woodfuel sales to ensure that wood sold for burning is dry. It will be fully rolled out by 1st May 2022 for all suppliers selling loads of 2 two cubic metres or less. Learn more about the Ready to Burn legislation.

Is burning wood carbon neutral?

Burning wood fuel itself is a carbon-neutral process. The wood only releases as much carbon emissions as it absorbed while growing. The reason why wood fuel isn’t completely carbon neutral is that there is some CO2 cost during processing and transport. The less distance the wood travels, the more environmentally friendly the process, so there is good reason to buy local!

Burning Wood Well - Wood Burning Guide

There are so many benefits of using wood fuel. But burning wood the wrong way, or using the wrong type, is wasteful from both an economic and an environmental perspective. Following a few simple tips can help save our planet and the pennies in your pocket.

Hints & Tips

  • The moisture content of wood for burning should be less than 25%, so dried, fully seasoned chopped wood logs are the best option. The higher the moisture content, the lower the amount of available energy. Wood that is well seasoned is darker and makes a distinctive hollow ‘clack’ rather than a dull ‘thud’ when knocked together. It also feels lighter than an unseasoned log. The bark should be peeling away with the cracking of the wood around the outside. Seasoning to this standard takes between 18 and 24 months. During seasoning, logs are stacked neatly off the ground with plenty of space between them for air movement. A store with slatted or woven sides is ideal for air movement, but should be covered against rain. In addition, an orientation to allow maximum exposure to the sun is ideal.
  • Store the wood protected from the weather in a log store or under a suitable cover. As with the recommended storage arrangements for seasoning, allowing for air movement and sun exposure will help keep your stored logs dry.
  • Burn the seasoned wood briskly with plenty of air. A stove pipe thermometer gives a really good indication that you are getting the best out of your stove. Don’t be tempted to close the air vents down to keep the fire in overnight, as this will only lead to inefficient combustion, potentially damaging your flue.
  • Consider investing in a wood moisture meter to test the moisture content of wood before you burn it. It will help you burn wood more efficiently and will pay for itself before long.

Burning Logs

  • Hardwoods have a greater density than softwoods, which can provide you with more heat output by as much as 30%.
  • Softwoods are often cheaper and easier to source. Conifer is a great wood to burn and only needs to be dried for approximately 12 months.

Burning wood chips for heat

  • Use the correct size, quality, and moisture content of chips for your boiler, as every boiler is built for a specific size chip. Many boilers also specify an optimum moisture content level, which can be even lower than the 25% we suggest.
  • Buy chips by cubic metre. Hopefully you won’t be getting wet chips, but if you buy by weight you’ll be paying extra for any moisture present in the wood.
  • Chips made by most tree surgeons are not suitable as they are not seasoned, contain chopped up leaves, and many of the chippers they use are not designed to make the right size of chip.


  • Pellets have a larger environmental footprint than logs or chips. They track the price of fossil fuels much more closely which can leave you open to cost fluctuations.
  • They take up less storage space and are much more energy-dense.
  • Some automated systems used to generate electricity work better with pellets (or only work with pellets) since they flow more easily due to their uniform shape and size.

Choosing a Heating System

Even if you buy your wood rather than gathering the timber from your own woodland, you can expect to save money on your heating compared to electricity by installing a woodburning heating system.

Open fires

  • The most inefficient form of wood heating – as low as 5%. This is largely due to an uncontrolled draught up the chimney.

Wood burning stoves

  • Enclosed, these are between 50-75% efficient.
  • Stand-alone room heaters.
  • Burn logs or wood pellets.
  • Can be fitted with a back boiler to heat your water.
  • The output from one of these can be excellent and they will heat your rooms up nicely. This type of burner also looks very attractive and there are a variety of different models available.

Gasification batch log burner

  • Up to a whopping 90% efficient.
  • Used to heat large properties like farmhouses and B&Bs.
  • Connect directly with your hot water and radiators.
  • Tend to be quite large systems requiring more space, and are better suited to outside locations or basements.

Burning Wood Well - Video Series

Discover more about the benefits of wood fuel

Drying Your Wood

Episode 1

Ready to Burn?

Episode 2

Wood Chip Boiler

Episode 3

Batch Log Boiler

Episode 4

Get email updates

Your details

Sign up if you'd like to receive email updates from Cumbria Woodlands. You can change your mind at any time by clicking the unsubscribe link in the footer of any email you receive from us, or by contacting us at info@cumbriawoodlands.co.uk. We will treat your information with respect and process it in accordance with our privacy policy. We use Campaign Monitor as our marketing platform. By signing up, you consent to your information being transferred to Campaign Monitor for processing

© Cumbria Woodlands 2021