Heating a home in Big Bear Valley during the winter is costly. Supplementing with wood heat can reduce the cost and there’s nothing like cozying up in front of a crackling fire with hot cocoa watching snowflakes fall.
Firewood in the Valley is sold just about everywhere. You can buy a small bundles for under $10 at supermarkets, Kmart, DIY and other stores or you can purchase by the wheelbarrow for about $20 from local vendors. For better economy, purchase by the cord. To save further, pick up a permit to cut your cord.
Use wood with no more than 30 to 35 percent moisture, says Andy Acosta, Owner of Acosta Wood & Trees. The dryer the wood, the less it smokes and the better it burns. Most wood sold in small quantities is seasoned. Wood sold by the cord may be green or dry. Green wood takes nine months to season.
Andy Acosta, like other experts, recommends hardwood for the most efficient fire. It also produces less creosote than softwood. California hardwoods include oak, eucalyptus and mountain mahogany. The less dense woods include pine, cedar and fir.
Pine burns fast, so it’s ideal for getting a fire off to a good start, then add hardwood. One cord of eucalyptus provides about the same amount of heat as two cords of pine Andy Acosta says.
For the most efficiency, burn in a wood stove with its door closed. Once the fire is blazing, close the vent to the level needed to keep the fire going but not roaring. If the stove has a thermometer, aim for 400 to 600 degrees Andy Acosta says. Fans increase efficiency of stoves and fireplaces, and if using a fireplace, install glass doors.
If you know how to use a chainsaw safely, you may want to cut some of your own wood in the forest. A U. S. Forest Service permit is $20 for two cords with a limit of 10 cords per family per year. Permits are available at the Big Bear Discovery Center.
While pine is most readily available, hardwood such as oak and ironwood are sometimes available near Arrowhead to those with permits says John Miller of the U.S. Forest Service. The permit generally doesn’t cover woodcutting from December 1st through March 31st.
Locals purchase the bulk of permits in Big Bear says Anna Birblescas, Information Receptionist for the U.S. Forest at the Big Bear Discovery Center. Maps are provided and you can call throughout the year to see if additional wood cutting areas have opened. Only trees on the ground may be cut.
To help prevent invasion of pests, such as the gold spotted oak borer, the forest service asks users not to move firewood more than 500 miles from its original location. To keep firewood dry, store off the ground and cover with a tarp. Use an ax or wood splitter to cut to size.