Wood is not a perfect fuel, but there really is no such thing. All fuel burning, indeed all energy use, causes environmental impacts. The most often cited impact, is from old-style wood heating, visible as smelly smoke curling from chimneys. The new advanced technology wood stoves, fireplaces and furnaces that are certified low emission by the US Environmental Protection Agency can burn with no visible smoke and ninety per cent less pollution than appliances of thirty years ago.
The particular form of wood used depends upon factors such as source, quantity, quality and application. Sawmill waste and construction industry by-products also include various forms of lumber tailings. Some consider wood fuel bad for the environment, however this is not the case if proper techinques are used.
Wood heating is practiced on a small scale, the fuel is usually harvested from a local resource, and the users gain a more complete understanding of their impacts on the environment than users of other energy sources. As environmentalists have suggested, these are some of the very features needed for economic and environmental sustainability. Families who heat their homes with wood responsibly should be recognized for their contribution to a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions and a sustainable energy future.
Although wood is a good fuel with advantages for individual families, it is not a good fuel for all families in all regions. For example, wood is not a good fuel for serious heating in multi-family dwellings or in the downtown core of our large cities. Wood is best used as a fuel outside cities, in small towns and rural areas, where the cost of firewood and population density are lower.
Wood pellets are another form of fuel that is commonly used in Pellet stoves some of which utilize automatic feeders for continuous operation. The particular brand of pellet does matter as BTU’s vary only slightly from brand to brand, but ash content, length consistency, and impurities may vary greatly. Impurities increase “klinkering” or “caking” of ash in the burn pot. There is a huge difference between 1% ash and 0.25% ash.
With appropriately certified and operated modern wood heaters, the use of good quality wood fuel is one of the most efficient and cheapest forms of heating in colder climates. The replacement of existing national domestic heating needs supplied by wood with gas and electricity would result in a significant net increase in carbon dioxide emissions, while the application and enforcement of national standards for wood heaters and wood fuel would substantially reduce particulate emissions.
Always choose a WETT Certified Professional to inspect your wood burning appliance. In Barrie Ontario the Barrie Home Inspector is available to supply all the information and perform your insurance inspection of your wood burning appliances. Visit www.wett-inspection.com for information and to book your WETT Inspection. Most insurance companies now require a WETT Inspection for new installations or existing installations if you are buying a new home.