Published on November 26th, 2007 | by Stephanie Evans
5 Steps to Becoming the Greenest Firewood User
Burning anything levies environmental consequences—no exceptions! Burning wood obviously produces smoke and destroys trees, which are a renewable resource when managed sustainably, but this is not usually the case.
Follow these tips to cut back on your fire-inspired pollution “contribution” and win the honorary title of Greenest Firewood User . . .
- Buy local wood harvested by the owner of a woodlot who has an investment in the sustainable management of his acreage.
- Only burn dry hardwoods. Wood energy is a function of the dry (cured) weight of the wood. Dense, heavy species such as oak, hickory, or eucalyptus give more heat for a given piece of wood, and burning these is thus a more efficient use of a tree than burning lightweight woods like pine and fir. Burning green, uncured wood produces a lot of polluting smoke and is also inefficient, since much of the heat is used to drive off the water (if you can even get the stuff to light).
- Replace your old wood stove. Use a properly sized, installed, and maintained appliance with an EPA rating. In the 1980’s, the EPA began limiting the sale of new stoves to clean-burning designs. They produce 90% less air pollution and are at least 30% more efficient than the old stoves, but there are still many old smoke-spouters around. Don’t get an old, illegal stove—it may be cheap, but it’s not a bargain for the environment or for your safety.
- Never burn garbage, chemically treated wood, or plywood, as it sends poisons into the air.
- Insulate and weather-seal your house. Don’t waste those BTUs!