Clive Agran on the source of energy this winter

Sussex Life - January 2014 cover

Sussex Life - January 2014 cover - Credit: Archant

In his new column, Clive Agran shares the local issues that are furrowing his brow

Doubtless much to the consternation of energy companies, the central heating in my house has not yet been turned on this winter. No, the boiler’s not broken and nor is the oil tank empty. The secret in two words is ‘wood burner’. Installed in our sitting room five years ago, not only does it heat the room nicely but its dancing flames keep us amused now that Downton Abbey has gone in to hibernation.

No longer pre-occupied with the price of Brent crude or plunged into despair when the Watchman oil-level indicator drops a notch, I am free to focus on more important matters such as where to obtain the next batch of logs. You see, buying logs is infinitely more complicated and far more intellectually demanding than simply ringing up and ordering oil.

Whereas oil is sold by the litre, a universal and consistent unit of measure, wood is sold by the less familiar truck-load, which is considerably less uniform. And there are other variables apart from the size of the truck. There are, of course, as many different types of wood as there are trees, which can broadly be divided into softwoods and hardwoods. Then there’s seasoned wood and, although you never hear mention of it, presumably un-seasoned wood. For the real connoisseur, there’s also kiln-dried, which is to logs what free-range and organic is to chickens. Finally, some suppliers offer complimentary stacking.

Whilst I was wrestling with these options recently, the Almighty saw my furrowed brow, took pity and arranged for a mighty wind to blow and bring down not one, but two trees – an oak and an ash - in a small wood at the bottom of the garden. In other words, a whole winter’s worth of renewable energy. Hooray!