Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Wellsboro Works To Implement Outside Boiler Laws

Outdoor wood-burning furnace ordinance discussed in Wellsboro

By BRYAN G. ROBINSON - Sun-Gazette Correspondent

WELLSBORO — Borough Council still is working on a draft of an ordinance regulating outdoor wood-burning furnaces.

On Monday night, council members and about 20 residents met at borough hall to continue a workshop on the ordinance that was started last month. In December, they reviewed five sections of the ordinance; this month, they are looking at the final six sections, with residents again suggesting changes.

“Now, we’ll take all the ideas and have the solicitor draw up the ordinance to have its tentative adoption in the near future, at one of the next council meetings” Council President Mike Wood said. “We’ll show all of you a final draft before adoption.”

However, throughout the meeting, more than one resident said they were confused by wording changes made, especially in particular to one section: Section 6, changed shortly before the meeting from “regulations for existing outdoor furnaces” to “variance procedures.”

Brian Meadows, one of the main proponents of the borough enacting an ordinance on the issue, said he thought that Monday’s meeting was going to deal with existing furnaces because last month’s meeting dealt with new furnaces. When discussion arose on Section 6, Tom Warriner, who owns an outdoor wood-burning furnace, admitted he, too, was confused on wording in the section.

Chris Lantz, borough solicitor with Cox, Lantz and Stokes, said the confusion was that an entire part of Section 6 that dealt with existing outdoor furnaces was removed.

“With this ordinance, there are many drafts that were used that we are trying to synthesize,” he said. “How do we do it? It’s a complex issue.”

Lantz said he probably will recommend that council put the section about existing furnaces back into the ordinance.

Council’s next meeting is at 6 p.m. on Feb. 12.

Friday, January 25, 2008

This Farm Saves Money On Heating

Larry Cook Cuts Up At Potter County Century Farm

Photo by James Jones
Larry Cook, farm manager at Kaple's Century Farm in Roulette, cuts up wood for the outside wood boiler that heats the farmhouse. Click on picture to enlarge.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Bellefonte May Ban Outside Wood Boilers

Bellefonte, PA, was reported to be considering banning outside wood boilers this week. Council said there are only a few in the boro but they want to anticipate problems in advance. A local newspaper stated that the planning commission had looked into regulating them, but council is inclined instead to ban them entirely.

Nobody wants to be smoked out, and if your smoke annoys your neighbors, whether from indoor or outdoor stoves, you are infringing on your neighbor's right to breath clean air. If you have close neighbors, you should try to locate your chimney where the prevailing winds will blow your smoke away from your neighbor's house.

Users of outside wood boilers should lobby the manufacturers to make a clean burning stove that minimizes the smoke emitted. Burned efficiently, outside wood boilers are a great alternative source of heat. They are safe and remove the mess from the house.

In sparsely populated areas in the northern tier of Pennsylvania, the wood boilers provide a wonderful way to safely heat your home and clean up a lot of the forest scrap at the same time. Coal, available locally is used by many users of outside boilers, and burns quite cleanly. The number of boilers in the northern tier of PA counties has grown by leaps and bounds since the price of natural gas has doubled.

There will probably always be a controversy between those having a wood boiler and those who don't, just as there is between those who want to locate wind generators on their property and those nearby who don't want to look at them or listen to the noise from them.

I invite you to add your comments on these subjects in the comment section.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Wood Smoke Is A Controversial Subject

Wood heating in the hills of North Central Pennsylvania is a given. Years ago, nearly everyone used wood to heat their homes in this area. Old pictures show smoke clouding the atmosphere in a haze over the small towns in this area.

As natural gas was discovered, a lot of people switched to gas as pipelines were put in place by the early drilling companies. Natural gas was plentiful and cheap. Glass plants sprung up to take advantage of this resource.

But recently, prices for natural gas have gone way up , and residents have turned back to wood for a reasonably priced heating option.

Wood stoves are not always the safest things as many houses are burned down each heating season from defective chimneys.

Outside wood burners have become the wood stove of choice for the residents of this rural area. They are located outside the house and heat water which is pumped into the house to be used by a heat exchanger and translated to an existing hot air system, or pumped directly to a hydronic heating system embedded in the floor, or a conventional hot water heating system.

At any rate, the fire is outside, which means no smoke or mess in the house, and no danger of catching the house on fire, as with an internal wood stove.

This eliminates a lot of problems for the homeowner, but can cause problems for nearby neighbors if the smoke blows their way.

Considerate neighbors should consider placement so that prevailing winds carry the smoke away from other homes close by. Using a chimney to divert the woodsmoke higher into the atmosphere is a big help.

Important too, is the fuel you are using in your outside wood burner. Properly dried wood emits very little smoke. You should never burn garbage, or green wood as the smoke is noxious.

Some states and municipalities would like to ban outside wood burners altogether, but the benefits of wood heat would make designing these stoves to be more efficient a more worthwhile project.

Your comments as a wood stove user or neighbor of a wood stove user are invited here.