Heating homes has certainly changed. It has gotten much more efficient and less polluting. Homes are much better insulated than they were only a few decades ago. Heating systems use much less fuel, and produce much cleaner exhaust. That is partly how more than a million people who live in San Jose now make less smog than when there were half as many.
The unfortunate part of that efficiency is the decline in popularity of traditional fireplaces and stoves. Burning wood is now politically incorrect, and at times, even illegal. ‘Spare the air’ days are strictly enforced when air quality gets unpleasant.
In San Jose, building codes do not allow fireplaces to be build into new homes. Only homes that were build with fireplaces or stoves prior to the ordinance are outfitted with them. Fireplaces that are damaged by earthquakes are often removed instead of repaired.
Tending a fire does not fit into modern lifestyles very well anyway. If someone stays home long enough to do so, he or she is too busy with other work. Tending a fire simply is not considered a common household chore anymore. Fireplaces do not have thermostats, so do not maintain the sort of consistency in temperature that so many of us have become accustomed to.
Those of us who still use our fireplaces (when permitted) must procure firewood. There are no more deteriorating orchards to supply it. We can not grow our own because permits are needed to cut down trees that are big enough to make firewood. Permits are only granted for trees that must be cut down for other reasons. The need for fuel is not good enough.
Consequently, it becomes necessary to purchase expensive firewood. To some of us, it is still worth it. We can either purchase mixed firewood from a tree service, or get it from a firewood cutter in the Santa Cruz Mountains. There always seem to be more trees that need to be cut down than are needed for firewood.
3 thoughts on “Firewood”
We planted our own little wood when we moved here 29 years ago. Luckily, nearly every year one of the trees needs pruning, and it gives us enough wood for fires for a year. We too have s problem with smoke though. Nearly everyone has woodburners now. There’s nothing like sitting in front of an open fire and making toast. It’s a kind of winter comfort.
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Yes, I think it is weird that it is outlawed. So few people use their stoves or fireplaces here anymore that if everyone who wanted to do so did so, it would not make too much smoke. Really, it does not even get very cold here very often. In the Santa Cruz Mountains, it is more common because fuel is so expensive, but with so many people moving out from the Valley, even that is getting more restrictive. Sorry about the rant.
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Reblogged this on Tony Tomeo and commented:
As I have been recycling old articles such as this one for the past several weeks, it has been difficult to conform to the ‘Horridculture’ theme on Wednesdays. I will resume the tradition as I eventually resume writing new articles.