Firewood Bank Resources
Academic Resources on Firewood Banks
Wood Burning & Safety Resources
Examples of Firewood Bank Initiatives
Firewood Banks in the News
Properly seasoned wood is key to a clean, efficient, and hot burn.
“Seasoning” is the process of drying firewood by splitting, stacking, covering, and storing it so as little moisture as possible remains trapped in the wood. The Environmental Protection Agency recommends only burning wood with a moisture content below 20%. See the EPA Burn Wise program page for more information and resources.
As a requirement of the wood deliveries undertaken by firewood banks supported by these federal grants, moisture content of wood must be taken and recorded for each delivery. This can be measured using a wood moisture meter.
Energy Audits & Weatherization
Weatherization programs, such as the Department of Energy’s Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP), provide valuable, free assistance to many low- and moderate-income households via energy efficiency upgrades, identified through an energy audit. These measures can include the replacement, cleaning, and repair of heating systems and safety testing for combustion appliances, among other mechanical and building shell improvements.
WAP is managed on a state-by-state basis, and typically participants must meet income eligibility guidelines in order to apply for weatherization services. More information for how to apply can be found on the DOE’s Weatherization Assistance Program website.
Firewood Banks Near You
Firewood banks operate all around the country, though they are most common on the East Coast and in the Pacific Northwest. A 2016 report by Clarisse Hart, Director of Outreach & Education at Harvard Forest, identified 65 firewood banks in operation across the country, and a 2021 article in the New York Times expanded the list to 82 banks. Hart’s current map, updated as of September 2023, identifies 117 firewood banks in North America, and 11 outside of North America. However, because many firewood banks operate on extremely small scales in remote parts of the country, it is projected that there may be over 150, with the potential for others to be implemented in the future.
Wood Smoke, Health Impacts,
& Firewood Banks
Four key factors impact the amount of wood smoke around your home: (1) the type of wood burned (seasoned or not), (2.) the condition of wood stove used (EPA certified or not), (3.) whether the operator gives the stove enough air, and (4.) where the home is located (rural or urban, valley or ridge etc.).
Firewood banks should always be aware of potential public health problems from wood smoke and the steps they can take to reduce it. First, use your moisture meter to ensure wood that is being delivered is seasoned properly (20% moisture or less). Secondly, make sure to check with your local government or local air quality agency to see if there have been complaints about wood smoke or if there are laws restricting the burning of wood, or periodic “burn bans." Be aware that the geography of some areas, especially valleys or along large bodies of water, can make them particularly susceptible to air inversions (where warm air traps cold air underneath). Air inversions trap wood smoke at ground level and create a buildup of smoke that can harm health.
Firewood banks should also check to see if the households you are serving (i.e. low income) may be eligible for additional weatherization or energy assistance, such as insulation, wood (all
states subsidize wood fuel via LIHEAP), free repairs or even a new stove or heater, like a heat pump. Finally, make sure that your firewood bank is not supporting “nuisance burners” those who
produce excessive smoke that impacts neighbors. We recommend that firewood banks not provide wood to homes with old outdoor wood boilers since they are notoriously inefficient
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