In either a wood stove or fireplace, the easiest and best fire is built by using a mixture of both softwoods–from trees such as pines and firs–and hardwoods, such as oak, eucalyptus, cedar and so on. Softwoods start burning easily, and the hardwoods provide for long burning and good "coaling" qualities. A bed of ashes underneath the grate produces steady heat and aids in igniting new fuel as it is added. The fire will continue burning if small amounts of wood are added at regular intervals. In fact, more efficient combustion results from burning small loads of wood with sufficient air than from burning large loads with minimal air.
When purchasing new appliances, consider the purchase price, the cost to run, and the life expectancy of the appliance. The operating cost can be found on the appliance’s black and yellow EnergyGuide label. This label shows the average annual cost to run the appliance, and how it compares to other models in kWh used per year. A retailer can tell you the appliance’s life expectancy. Then do the math: Consider a refrigerator for $549 that costs an estimated $70 per year to run. Over 15 years the homeowner will spend $1050 in energy costs. A more efficient refrigerator selling for $749 might cost $50 per year to run. The homeowner will pay just $750 in energy costs over 15 years, a $300 savings and an energy-conscious purchase to boot. With energy costs on the rise, those savings could be even greater in the long run.