Many homeowners in the US and in many countries all over the world use firewood for heating especially during the cold months of winter. This means that you have to buy firewood every year and if you use firewood only a few times a year, then you may not overly mind the hiked prices on the smaller bundles of nicely spilt logs.
However, if you use a lot of firewood every year, it would be more reasonable and cost effective for you to buy larger amounts of wood in cords.
What is a Cord of Wood?
A cord of wood refers to a stacked pile of wood measuring 4 by 4 by 8 feet. This is a standard measure originates from colonial times 4 feet being the practical size loggers and farmers could handle when carrying firewood. The firewood was then stacked 8 feet high as this was the amount the horses could haul.
When measuring a cord of firewood, it is assumed that the wood is neatly arranged such that the individual pieces of wood are stacked together to fit a space of 128 cubic feet which is equivalent to 3.62 squared.
How big is a Cord of Wood?
Although a full cord of wood occupies a volume of 128cubic feet, the actual volume is actually about 90 cubic feet. The other space is taken up by the air between the individual logs or pieces of wood. The amount of the wood in a given cord will vary depending on the size of the individual pieces of logs in the cord. If the logs are larger in size, they will usually be fewer than if the logs are smaller having been split in to smaller sizes.
A full cord can weigh approximately 5000 lbs. if it is hardwood and approximately 2500 lbs. if the wood is harvested from softwood trees but regardless of whether the wood is softwood or hardwood, a full cord of wood usually fits into a long bed pick-up truck with racks.
However even with this in mind, buying firewood can still be very confusing. This is because; most dealers or supplies rarely sell firewood for home heating using this official standard of measurement. Some firewood sellers often sell wood in smaller pieces with lengths less than four feet. Below are some of the terms loosely used by firewood dealers when selling wood in cords.
Apart from the full cord, this is one of the most commonly used measurements used by firewood suppliers. A face cord is a stack of wood measuring 4 by 8 feet but the lengths of the individual pieces of logs or wood are less than four feet on often measure 16 inches long. This is usually a third of a cord width.
A stove cord, a furnace cord and pick-up truck loads are some of the terms used by many firewood dealers and suppliers. All of these measurements are not official standards of measurement and are therefore not legally recognized.
Buying firewood using any other measurements than a full cord is tricky and should be avoided as much as possible because unscrupulous dealers can use them to short change you by inflating prices or simply delivering less than what was ordered. It is also illegal in many states irrespective of whether or not the buyer (you) agree to it or not.
How much is a Cord of Wood Cost?
There is no standard or specific price for a cord of wood. The prices fluctuate as often as the price of fuel depending on many factors. However, the average price ranges between $250 and $500 depending on the type of wood, if and how the wood was seasoned and the prevailing circumstances.
Below are some of the factors that often influence the price of firewood.
Type of Wood: Hardwood or Softwood
Buying hardwood is always significantly more expensive than softwoods. This is because such firewood, produce less smoke and sparks and contain more energy which means that the firewood will burn for longer and produce more heat as compared to softwoods.
Softwoods also get finished easily being that they burn for shorter periods of time and hence you will need to feed the fire more frequently which consequently quickly depletes your stock or pile of firewood.
Prevailing Market Conditions
During extremely cold winters, people use more firewood for heating. During such periods demands is often higher than supply and hence the cost of firewood also escalates. The earlier you buy, your firewood, the more you will save. If you do not buy early, you may end up falling victim to exorbitant prices and even missing out on the best firewood. You may also run out.
Delivery and Location
If the dealer is delivering the firewood for you, then the cord of the firewood will definitely cost you more. However, this is always the best alternative because it is the only way to guarantee that you get exactly what you ordered. You will be able to measure the size and volume of the cord or cords of wood before paying for it.
Depending on your location, you may need to pay between $ 20 and even $100 for delivery and having the supplier stack the wood for you.
Labor and Handling
Most dealers sell shorter lengths of a full cord of wood more expensively than larger logs. This is because such firewood have been cut more in smaller pieces and handled a lot more than larger logs. The firewood is hence more convenient to use because the supplier has put a lot of effort into preparing it for use. The more the effort or labor that has gone into preparation of the firewood, the more expensive the price.
How the wood was dried and the storage conditions will also influence the price of a cord of wood. Such firewood is cleaner, drier and more pleasant to use because it does not contain mud or sand in the bark which would otherwise make it less pleasant to use.
Tips for buying a cord of firewood
Always Buy from a Reputable Seller
Although there are numerous sellers who sell firewood, it would not be wise to just pick the first cord you see. Ensure that your dealer is a licensed and reputable dealer. To find the best dealers near you, you can simply check the better business bureau to check the reputations of the registered dealers in your state.
Have the Firewood Delivered
After making an order, it is important to have the firewood delivered by the supplier. Ensure that you are present when the firewood is being delivered. This is because you will be able to ensure that your firewood is stacked appropriately and this way, you will be able to verify the size and volume of the firewood after it has been stacked.
Some dishonest sellers can use tricks when stacking your firewood such that it occupies more volume or space than it actually weighs.
Do not order wood from a seller over the telephone
.It is better to make the order physically so that you can inspect the type of wood, the quality of the wood and the volume of wood before making an order.
Buying hardwood will actually save you more than buying softwoods. This is because hardwoods burn better and for longer because they have more energy and also produce more heat. You will need less cords of hardwood than you would require if you buy softwoods. This way, you will save more money.
If possible, you should always avoid buying firewood that are measured in other units such as pick-up truck loads, stove cords and other terms that may not relate to the standard full cord. This is because they are usually hard to compare and maybe used to hide a high price per cord measure.