Use Free Firewood for Home Heat
If you're heating your home with wood, then free firewood is something you can really appreciate as part of your approach to frugal living. Here are several ways to get your firewood for next to nothing. If free food tastes better, then firewood feels warmer when you burn it.
Anyway, let's start looking at some simple and effective ways to collect firewood that is essentially free - all you pay for is the hauling.
Many locations around town have pallets that they would like to get rid of. Pallets are often made of oak, so they are a good source of hard wood for high heat output. Here is where I have picked up pallets:
- Lumber yard
- Building supply store
- Motorcycle shop (bikes and jet skis are delivered crated)
- Paint stores
Just keep your eyes peeled for places that have stacks of pallets. Inquire whether they're scrap or must be returned, and if they're scrap, then offer to take them away and leave a clean area for the merchant. That way, you'll be welcome back again.
If you can handle picking up pallets with your truck or trailer, there is an endless supply of them to be had.
If you or a friend have a vacant piece of land, there are probably many opportunities to collect fallen timber or clear out selected trees for firewood. Often fallen wood will be well seasoned.
If your land is rather large and wooded - 50 acres or so - you might be able to harvest just fallen wood as your source of free firewood.
You can also start your own wood lot, growing trees in succession so that you'll have a continuous supply of trees to harvest each year for wood heat. I'd want to have at least 10 acres to do something like this. You can do it on a smaller parcel, but then only expect to be able to supplement your free firewood with timber from the wood lot.
There is an entire science to wood lot management. Suffice to say that you'll need fast growing trees, many moderate sized trees growing instead of fewer larger ones, and you'll want a variety of trees at various stages of growth to provide a steady supply of free firewood.
It might seem to be a far fetched idea, but bare land away from populated areas can be had for very little per acre, and a woodlot just might be a good investment to help heat your family home for years to come.
Cutting wood in a national forest isn't free, but nearly so. The last I heard it was about $10 for you to cut and haul away a cord of wood. That's 10% or less than what you'll pay for it cut and delivered.
It's like having a public wood lot. Be mindful that a national forest might not be all that convenient to your location, and just like a wood lot, you have to do all the work.
Nevertheless, it's an option to investigate. It's your national forest too, so you might as well make use of it.
I've seen piles of wood just laying around on private land. Whether it's a vacant lot, someone's backyard, along an alley or stacked up in the side yard, there is an abundance of wood to be had with a little effort.
Much of this wood is scrap wood from old structures, or just saved up over the years with the intention of using it. If you ask, many times the owner is happy to have the scrap wood removed so the property can be put back to some use.
You get free firewood, and the land owner is saved some work and regains use of their land. It's a win-win, and all you have to do is inquire.
Ads in the Newspaper
Regularly during the summer, there are ads in the "free" section of the local trading paper for people to come and haul away scrap wood or downed trees. Sometimes people have large piles of cut and split wood that they haven't used in their fireplace or wood stove, and they're happy to finally get rid of it by placing an ad in the newspaper.
Tree Trimming Services
Tree trimming services have to put their downed trees somewhere. They either haul them to the dump, take them over to the recycling center, or provide them to another party that cuts and splits them up for firewood.
Ask, and you might get an opportunity to get several cords of wood throughout the summer just for the price of loading and hauling.
Wood fences are regularly being replaced due to rotting, splitting or just because they're worn out. Something has to be done with the old fencing. Coordinate with a fencing company, and you'll have easy scrap material to cut up for free firewood.
Home Construction Sites
There is always a dumpster or pile of wood laying around at a construction site. Ask the workers what wood is going to be thrown away, and you can probably pick from there. One of the largest elements of fill material at the dump is construction debris. Quite a bit of it is lumber.
Don't let it go to waste. Retrieve it and use it as free firewood for your wood burning stove.
Log Home Builders
I regularly see a large pile of odds and ends of scrap wood at the local log home building site. Ask the people who work there if you can come and load up your truck or trailer. This is especially good wood because it's clean and you can cherry pick the largest pieces.
You could also offer to leave your trailer there for them to load up, thus saving you the labor of loading.
Here in Cheyenne, there is a truss manufacturer that will fill your trailer or dump truck with scrap wood from the manufacturing of trusses. Be aware that some of the pieces are rather small, but much of it can be useful for a wood stove or outdoor furnace.
If you make arrangements with such a place, you'll need to make certain that you pick up the load of wood soon after they tell you it's ready for pickup. Make it convenient for them, and they'll be glad to keep providing you with free firewood.
Let Your Neighbors Know
In an older neighborhood, there is usually a tree being removed for one reason or another. Simply let your neighbors know that you will come and remove the larger pieces after the tree removal service has cut down the tree. Take the trunk, limbs and large branches, and let the tree removal service handle the small branches and twigs.
I find one of the best ways to collect free firewood is simply to make your interest known. Just by doing so, I located a ranch that has years worth of scrap wood that they wanted to get rid of. I never tapped the source because I collected so much free firewood using my Wood Rescue free firewood program.
Just ask around and let your network of friends identify places where people have scrap wood and unwanted firewood that you can haul off for next to nothing.
It doesn't hurt to ask. And, remember that "free" is always a part of frugal living.
Done with Free Firewood, take me back to Heating with Wood