Groundhog Says Early Spring – But the Experts Disagree

2015-16 Weather Map

The ceremonial groundhog in Pennsylvania, Punxsutawney Phil, did not see his shadow this morning. The proclamation from the Groundhog Club leader was, “There is no shadow to be cast! An early spring is my forecast! Take your jackets off, you’re not going to need them!”. However, some analysts and official forecasters had different findings. 

According to the Farmers’ Almanac 2015-16 Winter Outlook – February temperatures will drop to bitter cold, and will last well into March. While the Northeast hasn’t had an overly challenging winter so far this season, forecasters warn that it’s coming.

Despite the strong El Nino, many of these areas will still see wintry precipitation — more likely winter wet than winter white — but still winter nonetheless. Though the Spring Equinox will arrive on March 20th, winter weather may hang on for just a bit longer this year, making for a delayed start to spring.

Their predictions for Zone 1 (the Northeast) include significant storms and winter conditions lingering on from February, and through the Easter holiday.

What do you think? Do you stand by Punxsutawney Phil? For the record – USA Today has tracked his “predictions” since 1988, and he has been “right” 13 times and “wrong” 15 times, for an accuracy rate of 46 percent. Sometimes, all you can do is be prepared for as much as you can.

In any case – if you’re running low on wood pellets or wood bricks, give the experts a call at 1-800-PELLETS, or buy online 24/7. 

Home Energy Audit – Should You Get One?

It’s that time of year where the bitter cold can really get the best of many homes. You might be considering some home updates, or feeling a cold draft you can’t locate – and you’ve thought about a professional assessment. Is it worth the cost? Check out this video by the U.S. Department of Energy. It provides some helpful insight into what a home energy audit is all about.

An audit can help you determine how much energy your home uses, where your home is losing energy, and which problem areas and fixes you should prioritize to make your home more efficient and comfortable. 

-Energy.gov

No matter how expensive, updated or technologically advanced your heating system is – you could be losing significant amounts of heat through unexpected places in your home. You may be running tests yourself, which is great. But are you as thorough as a professional?

5 Things Your Stove Technician Wants You To Know

Woodpellets.com1. Read the manual that came with your stove. According to Jason Tardiff of J&L Chimney Works in NH, this is the number one thing stove technicians wish customers would take seriously. He explains; “Most of the time, the answer to the problem lies in the pages of their owner’s manual.” From proper stove maintenance, to best practices and warranty information – the manual is packed with model-specific information, and it’s very often overlooked.

2. Don’t be so quick to blame the pellets. If your stove isn’t igniting, if you have a weak flame, or your pellets won’t stay lit, the fuel shouldn’t be your first thought. When was the last time you had your stove professionally cleaned? If you do it yourself, are you really getting to all the parts that need attention? Your pellet stove works off of pressurized air which is drawn from the exhaust. Have you cleaned all those passages? Is your exhaust clear of debris? Jason describes his years of discoveries: “The exhaust pulls in anything that’s in the air – so pet hair, dander, dust and lint are constantly sucked in. And as far as the auger goes, items left on the stove can fall and work their way in. I’ve found spoons and G.I Joes crammed in there.”

To summarize – in addition to the general responsible cleaning owners should be doing, a professional cleaning twice a year is definitely a best practice. Think of it like your dental health and your dentist. You clean your own teeth every day, but it’s still good to go to the dentist every six months for professional attention.

>> Read about the most common pellet stove problems

3. Your pellet stove needs a surge protector. You should not be plugging your stove directly into the wall. Furthermore, you need to know the difference between a power strip and an actual surge protector. Most modern pellet stoves have a circuit board that can be damaged without protection from even small electrical surges caused by power outages. Be sure to check your manual for information on electrical recommendations.

4. Don’t burn low quality pellets and expect great results. Check out the specifications on the wood pellets you’re purchasing. Look at the ash content listed, and know that the higher the percentage, the more frequent your cleanings will be. Higher quality pellets will have lower ash percentages, and therefore less maintenance.

On top of research, another great way to choose a fuel is by talking to your fellow pellet-burners to see what they’re using and why. Of course, you won’t know what you like for your home and your budget until you run your own tests. But if you’re buying the cheapest pellets with lower heat and higher ash specifications – you shouldn’t expect the same results as the higher quality options available.

Woodpellets.com Blog5. Buy low-moisture firewood for your wood stove. Switching gears to wood stoves and fireplaces – the firewood you choose to burn is important. Jason explains, “No noise is good when burning your firewood. The crackling and popping you hear in a campfire is from excess moisture burning off – which you don’t want in your home.”

Too much moisture within wood doesn’t burn as hot, gives off useless steam when burning, and creates dangerous and flammable creosote buildup. A best practice when buying your firewood is to use a moisture meter to find out just how “seasoned” it is before you take it home. Wood burns the best when it’s been split, seasoned for at least 6 months, and is made up of less than 20% moisture.

 >> Read about wood bricks – the firewood alternative.

Just like with pellet stoves, your chimney and/or wood stove requires regular maintenance, and should be professionally cleaned at least once a year. Any special “logs” that claim to get rid of your creosote can be used, but should not take the place of a proper, extensive cleaning.

Enter your zip code at Woodpellets.com to see if Cleancare Professional Stove Cleaning is available in your area. 

 

Questions? You can always call 1-800-735-5387 to speak to a Woodpellets.com representative!

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