Air pollution is everywhere these days. Not just in the physical sense, but it’s all over the media. There’s a lot of talk about how it is damaging the environment and even our health. That’s one thing when you’re out in the wide-open, but quite another when you’re in the 4 walls of your own home.
Among the many things that gets bad press for contribution to air pollution is wood stoves and fireplaces. But are they really as bad as people make out?
That all depends. If you have an old, inefficient stove then yes, these can be pretty bad for your health if used long-term. Even though most of the smoke goes out of the chimney, small amounts still make their way into your home. Plus there’s the matter that the smoke that bellows from your chimney may still hang around your home for some time after.
How to make your wood stove more eco-friendly in 2019
Don’t think you need to drastically cut down use of your wood stove, or worse still, chuck it out. Just like cars, toasters and televisions which have all been blamed for air pollution, clever engineers have spent many years coming up with ways to make them safer and more eco-friendly.
In addition to using a newer model which is more efficient and produces less smoke, there are many things you can do yourself to help keep the level of harmful emissions low and continue enjoying the warmth and classic charm of wood burning.
1. Choose an EPA standard wood stove
The first thing you should do is make sure the wood stove is EPA certified. EPA stands for Environmental Protection Agency, an official department of the US government.
From March 15 2020 the standard maximum emissions set by the EPA for wood burning heaters will be 2.0 g/h. This is more than half reduced from the previous limit of 4.5 and many less times than much older models.
When buying a wood stove, look for a lower g/h. Most newer stoves fall in the 1 g/h – 4 g/h range.
2. Choose a stove with a catalytic converter
Catalytic stoves work by passing smokey gasses through a converter which ignites and burns them before they’re released, this means the gasses never make it out of the stove, making it more eco-friendly. These stoves are capable of providing a long, even heat.
Catalytic converters are currently not a requirement, some stoves have them others do not, they are known as non-catalytic stoves.
At Superior Stone and Fireplace we have a large variety of catalytic wood stoves, visit us in-store to see the full range.
3. Heat with bio-bricks
Bio Bricks are a more eco-friendly way of heating than standard wood. They are manufactured by Bio Pellet, LLC in Bristol, CT and have been around since 2005.
Bio Bricks can drastically reduce the amount of particle emissions released into the air during burning, as much as 50% compared to cord-wood.
The bricks are densely packed compressed wood and are specially optimized for use in wood stoves. They produce less emissions due to the fact that they burn longer, cleaner and more completely; essentially more of the material burns inside the combustion chamber, and doesn’t make it out as emissions.
Superior Stone and Fireplace stock Bio Bricks, however they are very popular so it’s best to place your order in early to avoid disappointment! Reserve your Bio Bricks here.
4. Use wood moisture detector
Wood with too much moisture not only takes longer to light, it produces more smoke emissions.
Wood that is too dry ignites quickly, but more aggressively. It uses more air, which can increase particle emissions.
It’s a fine balancing act, experts suggest a moisture content of 12-20% as being ideal. The best way to know for sure how much moisture your wood holds, is with a detector.
There are many models of moisture testers on Amazon ranging from $12-$35.
Remember to always buy seasoned wood. Or season it yourself by cutting it and leaving it to dry for at least 6 months.
5. Burn more efficiently
All the suggestions so far been ways which improve the efficiency of wood stoves. The more efficient you can burn, the more chance there is of reducing the amount of pollutants released.
- Keep the vent clean – If there’s blockages, smoke can back up into your home.
- Ensure proper chimney installation – This can play a big role and disrupt the airflow which can in-turn make your stove less efficient.
- Light from the top down – This is seen as more efficient than lighting from bottom up.
6. Don’t use the stove as your main heating source
No wood stove is 100% free from emissions and while you can do a lot to bring the smoke content down, you can’t rid it completely. For this reason, a common sense approach suggests that you should enjoy your wood stove on occasion, and not as a primary heating source.
All things considered, there’s a lot you can do to make your wood stove more eco-friendly, more efficient and better for your family and the environment. Among the many other considerations by the US government to tackle air pollution, wood stoves are a prime consideration, so keep an eye out for changes in EPA guidelines.
As always, our experienced staff are always happy to answer any questions or concerns you have about the products on offer in our store. For help finding the most eco-friendly wood stoves, don’t hesitate to speak to a member of the team. Or give us a call: (203) 287-0839