Heat your Home the Eco-Friendly Way: With a Wood-Burning Stove
If you have been looking for a good way to help save the environment, look no further than using a wood stove as a heat source in winter. While a wood stove may seem like a throwback to colonial times, today’s wood-burning stoves are actually modern marvels. You can enjoy the never-outdated pleasure of watching a fire while knowing that using your wood stove is a more eco-friendly choice than using heat sources which rely on fossil fuels.
Wood is Carbon Neutral
Carbon dioxide (CO2) is referred to as a “greenhouse gas” which “causes global warming.” Environmental enthusiasts can take comfort in knowing that burning wood doesn’t add to the carbon footprint. A tree absorbs carbon dioxide from the atmosphere over the course of its life. Whether it decays naturally in a forest or is burned in a fire, wood gives off the exact same amount of carbon dioxide as was previously absorbed, making it “carbon neutral.”
Fossil fuels are not carbon neutral. Over hundreds of years, fossil fuels store accumulated carbon. Then the accumulated CO2 is released back into the atmosphere in large amounts all at once when the fossil fuel is burned, making a significant environmental impact.
Wood is a Renewable Energy Source
Throughout North America wood is an abundant resource, and it’s also completely sustainable. There was a time when lumber companies were allowed to harvest wood without any responsibility to plant new trees; those days are long over. There are more wooded acres in the U.S. today than there were a century ago. The supply of wood is being managed while trees are harvested, which will keep the wood supply in a sustainable state.
For heat to be an environmentally friendly resource, sustainable forests are a must. Maintaining a sustainable forest has actually been found to be quite simple. The U.S. Forest Service works to control the excess timber that is harvested and to ensure that lumber companies are utilizing sustainable cutting practices.
To make sure your carbon footprint remains neutral in the burning of wood, be sure to burn local wood. Transporting wood involves the use of fossil fuels.
Wood Burning = Low Emissions
In the 1980s the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) set higher emissions standards for wood-burning appliances; and as a result, the technology behind wood burning stoves has improved by leaps and bounds. High efficiency fireplace inserts and other wood-burning appliances are able to maximize the amount of heat dispersed from burning logs while leaving behind minor amounts of ash. In addition, modern stoves and inserts produce only about 2 to 5 grams of smoke during each hour of burning.
Some modern wood-burning stoves are approved for use in smokeless areas, they burn so cleanly. Since the stoves today are designed to burn at much higher temperatures, the gases in the smoke are completely burned rather than being released into the atmosphere. The thermal efficiency of a fireplace insert and wood burning stove is about 80%, meaning that a log burned in a modern appliance produces 4 times more heat than a log burned in an open fire.
Using the same number of logs, a modern wood-burning appliance will heat a room three times longer than an open fire. The room stays warmer longer, since the hot air in the room isn’t continuously being exchanged for cool outside air.
Wood Burning Saves on Energy Costs
The most cost-effective source of energy also happens to make the least amount of environmental impact, that being wood burning. Wood costs about a third the amount of heating with electricity, natural gas, coal, or oil.