Winter fuel

In the UK we have been having an “Indian Summer”. That means that the beginning of the Autumn/Fall has been unseasonably warm. I have no complaints about that, but it has started to make people discuss the possible weather in the weeks to come. Last Winter was exceptionally cold, with the lowest ever recorded temperatures being reported in the area where I live. In the news there have been dire warnings about energy shortages.

But I have an idea …

The primary source of heat in my house is gas – that is what fuels the central heating and hot water system. Although no longer cheap fuel, gas is the most economic and convenient option. However, I also have a backup. In our kitchen is a wood-burning stove, which, once nicely fired up, heats the (quite large) room very well. We enjoyed the benefits of this heat source last Winter and decided to upgrade it. The one we have is quite old and less efficient than modern units. It was also not professionally installed. So, the process of installing its replacement is in process.

The only problem with a wood-burning stove is that it needs a constant supply of fuel. Obviously this can be bought, but I am always on the lookout for free sources of wood. Having had the windows replaced on the house, I retained all the waste wood from that and I have a reasonable stock, but more will be needed and I am looking for options.

I had a rather lateral idea. Something I have written about before is my liking for e-books – Kindle is my constant companion. I have ben disposing of excess books in recent months and observe that I am far from alone. We commonly go to car boot sales – I think these might be called flea markets elsewhere. Lots of householders show up and sell all their unwanted stuff from the backs of their cars. It can be a good place to pick up bargains, but there is always the danger of coming home with something that “seemed like a good idea at the time”. One of the most commonly sold things are books and what is noticeable is that the price is dropping fast.

I wonder who might be buying these unwanted books. Certainly not me. Why would I want all these heavy, smelly, dust-attracting things? They will probably end up in landfill or an incinerator. Now there is an idea! Would they make an alternative fuel for a wood-burner? Maybe they would need to be tied together in bundles to smoulder nicely, but it might just work.

I have an idea that this proposal might be just a little bit controversial …

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  • Intriguing thought. I guess you’ve read Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury? Your logical (but possibly amusing for the rest of us) step would be for you to post “dump your unwanted books at my place” signs around your neighbourhood and in local media – as a way gauging opinion.. and collecting your fuel. But I’m guessing you’d find in hard to burn them without looking at the titles…dipping in… starting to read….? Keep us advised!

  • I’d forgotten all about F451. You are the 2nd person to remind me. I thought about re-reading it, but it’s not available on Kindle. Actually, as I find myself unenthusiastic about reading “real” books, if I were donated a pile of books, I’d probably just scan them for monetary value before burning them. 🙂

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This article first appeared on the Siemens Digital Industries Software blog at https://blogs.sw.siemens.com/embedded-software/2011/10/13/winter-fuel/