AUSTIN (KXAN) - A cold front is on its way to Central Texas. With cooler conditions expected, some are planning their first fire of the season.
The Environmental Protection Agency says there are things to think about beforehand.
Burn only dry, seasoned wood. Properly seasoned wood burns hotter, producing more heat and less pollution. Seasoned wood is darker, has cracks in the end grain, and sounds hollow when struck against another piece of wood.
Use a moisture meter. Wood burns best when the moisture content is 20 percent. Purchase a wood moisture meter for less than $20 to test the moisture content of your wood before you burn it.
Burn hot fires. Once you've enjoyed the warmth, many people think they should let a fire smolder overnight, but reducing the air supply does little for heating and increases air pollution. A smoldering fire isn't efficient.
Start fires with newspaper and dry kindling, or consider having a professional install a natural gas or propane log lighter or a catalyst device in your fireplace to reduce pollution and to increase efficiency.
Austin homeowner, Jason Hawn, already follows these tips.
"We have our chimney swept on an annual basis so it's safe and we have gas that starts the wood," said Jason Hawn, homeowner.
He also had Austin Firewood deliver a load of post oak Thursday.
"We like it just because of the heat it puts off as well as the nice aroma," said Hawn.
Regularly remove ashes from your wood-burning appliance to maintain proper airflow. For safety, put ashes in a metal container with a cover and store outdoors.
Never burn painted or treated wood, wet or moldy wood, household garbage, cardboard or driftwood. They can release toxic chemicals into the air – and your home. During the holidays, remember not to burn Christmas trees or wrapping paper!
So if you were thinking of burning that leftover lumber in your backyard, Austin Firewood says that's a bad idea.
"You don't want to breathe it in," said David Valladolid, Austin Firewood. "The treated wood you know it's so the wood doesn't rot and who knows what kind of stuff they have in there."
Another EPA tip:
Upgrading to an EPA-certified wood stove or fireplace insert will make even bigger improvements in fire emissions and efficiency. These models are more efficient than older models, making the air cleaner, homes safer, and fuel bills lower, while still keeping warm in the winter.
The freezing and near-freezing rain that swooped into Central Texas overnight prompted numerous school closings and delays and made for a harrowing morning commute on Friday.
A man is charged with murder in the shooting death Wednesday of a woman at a North Austin auto repair shop, police said Friday.
A man is expected to survive after being stabbed in the head at the Salvation Army shelter in Downtown Austin at about 3:45 a.m. Friday.
As the Austin area prepares itself for an impending winter storm on Friday, Dec. 6, many schools have already announced delays.
With freezing temperatures pushing through the region, heating systems will likely be working overtime, which can bring rising energy bills.
Investigators are looking into an overnight fire that left one woman with third-degree burns.