Advertisement

The great wood burning stove debate

Why do stoves remain popular with the public when they are a major source of indoor and outdoor air pollution? Pippa Neill investigates.

You’ve just come back from a long walk, the house is cold so you light the fire and sit down with a cup of tea to read your book. To many people, this probably sounds like the perfect way to spend a lockdown afternoon, but in fact, there is something quite sinister going on here.  

According to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), wood and coal fires are the single biggest source of particulate matter (PM2.5) pollution in the UK. Even in London, which has had smokecontrolled areas for more than 60 years, researchers at King’s College London found that wood burning was responsible for between 23 – 31% of all PM2.5 pollution.  

Because of their size – about 30 times smaller in width than that of a human hair – PM2.5 is one of the most dangerous air pollutants when it comes to human health. These tiny pollutants can travel deep into the respiratory tract where they can lead to numerous health problems, from asthma, lung cancer, cardiovascular disease, dementia and pregnancy loss.  

Yet despite the carcinogenic properties of these particles, lighting up a wood burning stove or an open fire remains hugely popular, indeed an estimated 175,000 wood burners are sold in the UK every year.  

To get to the crux of why this is the case and in a bid to understand the bigger picture, Air Quality News spoke with Dr. Gary Fuller, an air pollution scientist at Imperial College London, and whose book ‘The Invisible Killer’ addresses this issue in detail.  

‘I think to start with, we need to understand this whole phenomenon, and to do that we need to look not just at the quantitative science, but also at the social and behavioural reasons as to why people are using wood burning stoves and open fires in the first place. 

‘Let’s face it, looking at flames is completely brilliant, it’s wonderfully relaxing and I think many people also believe that it brings them close to nature, but the implications on air pollution are enormous and that cannot be ignored.’  

Firewood stack of chopped wood background

In recent years, the discourse around wood burning stoves has focused on them being a more environmentally-friendly option when it comes to heating your home.  

Indeed, the Stove Industry Alliance (SIA), the industry body representing the wood burning stove industry, have gone so far as to say that burning wood is a ‘carbon neutral heating option.’   

‘I know it’s slightly debatable,’ says Morley Sage, chair of the SIA, ‘but if you use locally sourced wood then you’re almost certainly in a carbon neutral situation.’  

However, this situation is far from clear cut and measuring carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions remains incredibly difficult, as Dr. Fuller explains: ‘When you look at the whole life cycle of burning wood, you’ve got to say what is the counterfactual?  

‘If we compare a scenario where you heat your home with gas and leave the tree in the forest, to one where you chop down a tree and leave the gas unused, then what happens to the CO2? 

‘When you set fire to wood in your fireplace, you’re automatically releasing carbon that has been sequestered for many decades, and it will take the ecosystem a long time to reabsorb that carbon. So, you see, the debate becomes not which one is better, but in which time window are they better.’  

This lack of clear communication goes beyond the CO2 impacts of wood burning stoves, but also extends to their air pollution impact. Later this month, the government will begin to phase out the sale of coal and wet wood, which according to Defra are ‘the two most polluting fuels.’ However, Dr Gary Fuller warns that ‘this is possibly a very contradictory signal’.  

‘You could look at this and say yes, it will help the problem,’ says Dr. Fuller 

‘But then are you saying that it’s completely acceptable to burn dry wood?’  

‘I raise the concern that, in five or 10 years time, will our pollution problem actually worsen because people will see this as a message that they can go out and either open up an old fireplace or buy an old wood burning stove, and as long as they’re burning dry wood, then the industry seems to imply that it’s completely fine.’ 

‘Indeed, research we conducted in London revealed that the extra PM2.5 that was coming from wood burning stoves was seven times greater than the air pollution reduction from the first two phases of the low-emission zones. So, you can see that this mixed messaging runs the risk of undoing much of the work and investment that we’re putting into other areas.’ 

However, as Mr Sage highlights, there is an emissions hierarchy when it comes to the fuels we burn and the stoves we use. 

‘If you look at a new Ecodesign compliant stove it will produce on average 90% less emissions than an open fire, and 80% less emissions than the average 10-yearold stove.’ 

‘Our website highlights the benefits of replacing older stoves and when that isn’t a possibility then we encourage consumers to ensure that they’re burning the right fuel, meaning fuel that is in line with the government’s new law.  

‘The overall message that we’re trying to get across is that it’s all about having the right appliance, the right fuel and then burning it in the right way.’  

However, according to a 2015 government survey, in London, 68% of people who were burning wood in their homes were using open fires, the most polluting of all appliances. The fact is, wood burning stoves and open fires have an extremely long lifespan, upwards of 20 years, and replacing them can be very expensive, a brand new Ecodesign approved stove costs anywhere from £500 – £2,000, without considering installation costs.  

The turnover for solid fuel devices is really, really long,’ adds Dr. Fuller. So people are going to be making substantial investments in stoves and it’s going to be really hard to say that they shouldn’t use them.  

‘Yes, if people were to take their open fire, and replace it with something that’s more modern, it would mean a reduction in emissions. 

‘But even the best stoves still emit air pollution, in their biomass report, the Air Quality Expert Group found that burning wood in an Ecodesign stove was similar to the emissions from six Euro V1 HGVs.  

‘I think it’s important to recognise the benefit of risk reduction, but also to recognise that it’s not the answer.’  

Mr Sage also highlights that there are many other benefits of using wood burning stoves: ‘It’s also a form of heating which assists with fuel poverty, it is not generally bought on credit and it’s an affordable and a local space heater.  

‘There are also many other health benefits, wood burning stoves are a very calming focal point in the home, and at a time when stress and mental health are very important, they can have a positive contribution to that. 

‘They are also good at circulating air in the house, which can also be beneficial for health.’  

But in the midst of a respiratory pandemic, where air pollution has been linked to a greater risk of dying from Covid-19, the question remains, is lighting a fire and contributing to the wider air pollution problem the socially responsible thing to do?  

As Harriet Edwards, senior policy manager at the British Lung Foundation says: ‘We want to encourage people to really question if they need to use a wood burning stove, and if they are using one, then we encourage them to really think about the way they are using them.  

‘But the consumer information is just not out there at the moment and there’s a really big piece of work that needs to be done to change that. I think many people feel duped, they might have felt they were making a more environmentally-friendly choice and now they’re being told otherwise, we need to ensure that the public are given much clearer advice and information, because ultimately, no level of air pollution is safe to breathe in.’   

There is clearly a gap in the information when it comes to wood-burning stoves and, as shown, the debate remains to be very heated, but whether they are contributing to air pollution inside your home or causing an air pollution problem to the wider community, there is clearly a need for clear communication to help raise awareness and highlight the air pollution impacts of these not so idyllic wood-burning stoves. 

 This article first appeared in the Air Quality News magazine, which is available to view here. 

 

 

 

 

 

Comments

Subscribe
Notify of
guest
147 Comments
Newest
Oldest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Matthias Ng'ang'a 254722517456
Matthias Ng'ang'a 254722517456
2 years ago

The government needs taxes, the big companies need profit .

They will put up campaigns to show how fire wood burning is distractive compared to cars and industrial emission.

A homestead running on fire wood is not distractive. The quantity of firewood used for cooking, warming the house is very environment friendly.

Our homes in africa, cannot finish an acre of firewood in short time. It lasts for several years before you cut down another acre.

My parents are still using firewood grown by my grandfather in the 70s and 80s, over 40 years since the trees where planted by my grandparents.

I think, planning properly by the individual is the best way to live.
Gov’t needs to stop waste snd theft of taxes. There is enough for humanity. We need to eliminate greed by govt and big private industries.

Matthias Ng'ang'a 254722517456
Matthias Ng'ang'a 254722517456
2 years ago

Wood burning in africa

Screenshot_20211101_175543.jpg
Arlie Mayes
Arlie Mayes
2 years ago

I found this article very interesting and helpful. I have been debating about getting a wood-burning stove for a while now, but it is so hard to know what one to get. This guide helped me decide on the best type of wood stove for my home. It was easy to read and understand and answered all my questions!

MikeB
MikeB
2 years ago

The more the merrier will speed up a ban. Over 200,000 new stoves a year is unsustainable. Each year since around 2010 the air in our towns and cities has deteriorated rapidly. Its now a bigger polluter than vehicles and its a most unpleasant smell everywhere in the evenings and weekends.

RightTo CleanAir
RightTo CleanAir
1 year ago
Reply to  MikeB

Yes. Wood and coal burning is toxic, nauseating and extremely selfish and cruel Only a godless society can be capable.

John Smith
John Smith
1 year ago

Oh yeah.
So I assume you use electricity to cool, heat your home right!?.
Where do you Think your electricity comes from ??? Magic fairies,,,it comes from burning coal or gas its the same thing.

Smith
Smith
1 year ago
Reply to  John Smith

Are you saying coal is cleaner than electricity?

If you pause for 3 second and think before you type, you will see that no energy source is 100% clean and made by goblins running in hamster wheels. (yet)

But electricity IS IN FACT partially and more and more so generated from windmills and solar panels, therefore BETTER.

By the way, it’s is immensely more efficient to produce electricity in 1 big plant (you can contain the pollution, efficiency gains, …)
…. or do you have a mini coal plant in your backyard to keep your lights on???

Have fun burning like they did in the stone age

John Smith
John Smith
1 year ago
Reply to  MikeB

Move to Alaska where the population of people & cars is low & enjoy some air free .

User
User
2 years ago

We have an up to date approved log burner. We only use it on very cold evenings. There is a lot of rubbish talked on this thread. Log Burners, if used correctly, at correct temperature with dry seasoned wood give off a lot less pollution that open fires. Also on the subject of PM2. With an open fire, you are exposed all the time,. With a log burner, you only are exposed for a slight moment when you open the door to put another log on. This can be reduced even further by slightly opening the door for a few seconds to let the pressure even, then briskly adding a log then closing again. Most of the ‘smoke’ you see in the evenings from chimneys using a log burner is actually the heat reacting to cold air. Not all smoke. My road has quite a few log burners installed, There is only a faint smell in the air. If used properly, there should be no over bearing smells. With Gas prices going through the roof, its no brainer that more people will start using log burners. There’s also a strong feeling the Gas companies are funding the media to bad mouth log burners, because every free log you burn does not line the pockets of these greedy corporations. I’m all for doing the best I can to make my log burner as safe as possible and advise people to only use dry wood and properly installed burners. I hope the people on here moaning about log burners think when they have a barbeque going all summer stinking people laundry hung out to dry.

Matt
Matt
1 year ago
Reply to  User

Pollution and damage to your community’s health can be reduced far faster by not having the thing at all.

There are far better, more responsible options.

sabina
sabina
1 year ago
Reply to  Matt

Like what?

Smith
Smith
1 year ago
Reply to  User

your neighbours who take in your filthy smoke into their ventilation system might disagree. (in my country ventilation systems are mandatory in new builds)

“I don’t smell anything in my living room, so I don’t have a problem”

My street STINKS in low wind conditions in the winter. It’s not from cows farting I can tell you.

Dan
Dan
2 years ago

Fuel companies stand to lose income and governments revenue if significant numbers of people start to use wood for their home heating. Wood can be free and generally cheaper than electricity gas or oil. It is therefore in the interests of government and suppliers to protect their profits by making the argument that burning wood is evil.  Thus we get not so much a debate as the rollout of a propaganda machine to control the agenda.  Shame on those ‘scientists’ who get well paid to distort the facts.  

Recently reported was a survey which found that the winemaking industry generated more CO² than the emissions of airliners and motor vehicles combined, no doubt commissioned by the petroleum industry? 

In the USA some states have made going off-grid illegal, not because of environmental concerns but to ensure that there is no loss of revenue.

This official demonisation of the woodburner appears to be part of the plan to maintain the status quo, in many cases buying off ‘expert’ opinion to push the agenda.
The privatised fuel industry has got a lot to answer for in its obscenely excessive prices which cause fuel poverty and the necessity for people to seek alternative ways of heating.
They shouldn’t be allowed to have it both ways.

Paul Onions
Paul Onions
2 years ago

Human beings have been burning wood ever since they discovered fire. To bleat on now, millions of years later, that it is not environmental friendly is nonsense. The way it is going on, thousands of people will dye of hyperthermia, when wood burners and gas boilers are banned. Heat pumps are not the answer. They are not efficient enough.

Ruth
Ruth
3 years ago

I live in a rural village. Over 50% of the houses now have wood burners. My road is frequently thick with smoke. I have asthma which has steadily worsened till I am always breathless in evening and morning and coughing up blood. I have bought an air purifier which helps a bit and take extra steroids but still I feel ill and constantly have painful eyes. My children have roughsHod hospital have said it is related to wood smoke . I don’t understand why it is acceptable for people to do this. My neighbours say they are burning dry wood and obviously it is their right to do this. However, I wish I had a right to be able to breath like I used to. I find it upsetting and stressful when I see the smoke pouring out of many of the chimneys. People can no longer smoke in pubs yet my house can be filled with neighbour’s smoke.

BoilingFrog
BoilingFrog
3 years ago

The way this issue is being covered is becoming very irritating and is distorting the debate we should be having about how to reduce the pollution of road traffic vehicles, particularly diesel lorries. Instead of parroting the government’s line, whose only interest is to avoid being forced to deal with the real problem, I recommend you actually read the original research on which DEFRA etc are being these wild accusations. Make sure to check the end notes where the extent to which large outdated assumptions underpin the conclusions of that ‘research’ become clear. In the meantime consider if it can possibly be true that stoves used by 8% of people account for 40% of all pm2.5 pollution. It just makes NO SENSE. Those millions of diesel trucks driving mile after mile, nope, not them! It’s you, burning your stove for 20 hours a month that needs to stop. I mean, really???

Matt
Matt
1 year ago
Reply to  BoilingFrog

Diesel trucks in Europe are regulated to the extent that particulate emissions are required to be 97%+ lower than in 1990.

That’s how their contribution has reduced compared to woodstoves.

Perhaps we need to apply similar regulations, or a simple ban.

David alleyne
David alleyne
3 years ago

The finger is pointed directly at the domestic wood burner, but there is never any mention of the commercial grade lumpwood/charcoal used in thousands of restaurants and take aways in London and the suburbs? This is probably greater concern as these are used 365 days a year! The domestic burner is realistically used only for 3-4 months if that in any single year and only for several hours a day? Why is this not looked into? Possibly because of the financial impact on commercial businesses in and around London.

Liz
Liz
3 years ago

Our problems with wood stoves are steadily getting worse as more and more people install one. When the weather is cold and still smoke pools around our house and even with air purifiers running our home is smoky. The wood used is drier and the particles cannot be seen but our breathing is affected, our eyes sting and it is difficult to sleep. When the stoves are lit there is darker smoke and in the early evening one after another fire is lit so there is always dark smoke. People have been encouraged to light more bonfires too.
It is a mistake to think locally sourced wood is better for the environment. A lot of the stuff round us is cut down from people’s gardens and not replaced. As Gary says this is not the answer.

Ajay Patel
Ajay Patel
3 years ago

Ms Neill,

It’s time for society to face the inconvenient truth; emitting smoke with a cocktail of toxic pollutants into the environment, regardless of how clean the burning process is, HAS NO PLACE IN THE 21st CENTURY.

The UK’s four nations are pushing hard towards zero carbon energy through wind and solar, driving hard to make motor vehicles 100% electric and, placing tough environmental standards at the epicentre of political policy. So why are we allowing the zero emission vision to be undermined by a minority of selfish urban posseurs who niether know about, or ever care about, the impact of their ‘lifestyle choices’ on their neigbourhoods?

The rationale of needing wood and solid fuel burners to heat homes is generally bogus. Unless they live in a rural hamlet, remote farm or live off-grid in a Cornish yurt, most burner owners live in properties with mains gas. Hands up who also has gas central heating? What, none of you?

Having mains gas means there is no legitimate reason to be heating a house by ‘dirty combustion’. A high efficiency gas fire saves per BTU, a load of money over bundles of wood or sacks of coke. It also prevents particulates and still looks cool with real flames. A gas fire is also one thousand times safer from the constant fire hazard of cinders and a chinmey that needs sweeping every six months. Yes burner owners, now go read your instruction booklet and see what you should have done, before the fire brigade makes a 999 visit.

Householders do have legitimate reasons to use wood and solid fuel burners, but just because they “look nice” is not one of them. Yes, they look super-on-trend on a Zoopla listing or, is the hip background on the Zoom call to the guys in L.A., but there is no reason this side of the millenium to have to incinerate to decorate. Wood burners are not clean, not green and do not support carbon capture.

Furthermore, many wood burners are used in ‘alleged’ smoke control areas. Reality check, smoke control areas are no more than a serving suggestion. Enforcement, what’s enforcement? Anyway, provided installation and combustion is done within the ‘regulations’, there is absolutely nothing that anyone who is directly affected by smoke discharge can (legally) do. Somehow, it’s their children’s fault for having to keep windows shut. Their fault for coughing and feeling sick. Their fault for developing asthma.
Smoke control areas need to be nationally legislated as ‘no smoking’ areas, not the ambiguous, it’s up to your local council to (never) take action B.S.

“Newsflash: For the hipsta-urbanista who drives a hybrid, eats out vegan and avidly follows Greta Thunberg on Instagram. You are not a good citizen if you dump toxic smoke into the houses next door. On a Sunday afternoon. In July. Even if it’s your democratic human right to do so.”

Air pollution is a serious problem for everyone. It is everyone’s responsibility to make things greener and cleaner. However, by making a great leap back into the Victorian era at the behest of ‘heating industry’ lobbyists, demonstrates a blatant contempt (at ministerial level), for the bigger picture of poor urban air quality.

Air Quality News, it is time to call an abrupt cease-and-desist on the scourge of these urban LIFESTYLE POLLUTERS who are legally FLY TIPPING their toxic domestic waste into everyone else’s air.

Ajay

Phill
Phill
1 year ago
Reply to  Ajay Patel

I agree with you, woodburners do not belong in an urban environment.
The people whose houses have been demolished with several fatalities from gas explosions may disagree with you however as to the safety of gas!
There is no completely safe means of energy consumption, this is the nature of life I am afraid.

Landon "RusticLumberCO.com" Edgington
Landon "RusticLumberCO.com" Edgington
3 years ago

I think to start with, we need to understand this whole phenomenon, and to do that we need to look not just at the quantitative science, but also at the social and behavioral reasons as to why people are using wood burning stoves and open fires in the first place.

Homeia
Homeia
3 years ago

Thanks for great tips! however, the recent Guardian coverage of research on internal air pollution from stoves basically correlates with opening the stove door; in my experience depending on whether you crack it first to equalize the pressure makes a huge difference as to risk of smoke coming out.

Robert mij
Robert mij
3 years ago

What’s worse for the environment Methane or c02. I’m sure I once read that a tree left to rot and die would release methane instead of c02. And I was pretty sure methane is 20 times worse for global warming contributions as that’s also why the green group want sustainable farming with the methane levels found in agriculture.

Drake
Drake
3 years ago

Thanks for sharing these car mainteneace guide ! I’m always interested in learning more about this.

Junie
Junie
3 years ago

Great tips! I’m still figuring out this whole thing. But it helps a lot.

Marc Lang
Marc Lang
3 years ago

The very first paragraph of this propaganda piece, is a lie. Wood burners are NOT a major source of indoor and outdoor pollution. I have an air particulate cert with mine to prove it is so. What IS a major source of pollution is John Kerry’s private jet that he went to Iceland on, to pick up a climate award.

David Norton
David Norton
2 years ago
Reply to  Marc Lang

And all the other ‘climate’ warriors.. who go home to their gas boilers.. fly on holiday.. buy foods from supermarkets.. drive a car.. use electric.. all well meaning.. but aggressive and hypocritical.. the biggest problem is the human assumption that its every ones ‘right’ to breed.!!!

Paul Onions
Paul Onions
3 years ago

Humans have been burning wood ever since they discovered how to make a fire. To say now that it will kill us is ludicrous. I get heartily sick of people banging on about pollution. Without offering alternate ways to stay warm and cook. Most people cannot afford to replace their gas boiler and cookers or wood burners.

Steve
Steve
3 years ago

I can totally understand ‘everyone’s’ views on this subject. People are passionate about the environment and health.
Leeds (my city) has scrapped it’s planned clean air charge. During this Pandemic pollution levels dropped drastically. Recognising that this was mainly due to less traffic on the road, they are now persuing a traffic management/ reduction strategy for the city. Log Burners are the least of our worries.

Phil
Phil
3 years ago

How does this study on PM2.5 differentiate and quantify difference in contribution between particles produced by garden fires that send up billowing smoke and wood stoves that burn dirty for 20 mins until up to temp and produce little pollutants thereafter?

Peter moffat
Peter moffat
3 years ago

I live in a terrace house that was built about four hundred year’s ago of local quarry stone the stone is bare there is no insulation anywhere but the loft and that I suspect is below standard, there is no gas in this village so if you want to heat your home there is a choice of multi fuel stove or electric , I have electric storage heaters and radiators but these walls are like a heat sink and the electric too expensive, the only thing that makes this house bearable is our stove, you may ask why the house has not been insulated the answer it’s a private let ,our landlady is not averse to us applying for a grant and we have applied but been turned down even though we are both over seventy and on benefits, it’s something to do we are told because we are in a terrace , so to cut to the chase please don’t take away our stoves before you replace them with an equally economic system

Resident Seeking right to clean air
Resident Seeking right to clean air
3 years ago
Reply to  Peter moffat

Poisoning the air with wood burners or coal is indefensible and utterly selfish

David Norton
David Norton
2 years ago

Also poisoning the air with ‘supposed’ clean gas boilers is utterly deluded and indefensible and extremely selfish.
Do some research on the ‘dirtiness’ of gas boilers.. nitic oxides etc.. they may look clean.. but they spew out lethal gases.

Last edited 2 years ago by David Norton
Peter Wadhams
Peter Wadhams
3 years ago

Wood burning clearly generates passions such that only a small minority of your correspondents seem capable of thinking clearly. The main argument against wood burning stoves is that they generate large quanitities of small-size particulates which reach the lungs and cause terrible diseases. Particulates are the reason why diesel cars are forbidden in many cities (e.g. most large Italian cities). As one of your correspondents rightly says, a wood-burning enthusiast in a closely knit area, like a Victorian urban street, is poisoning his helpless neighbours just as surely as if he went around blowing tobacco smoke into his neighbours’ letterboxes. It has to stop. We do need to recognise people’s passions, which are in a way like the passion for having an Aga, something which I personally do not understand and which is only found in England.
Prof Peter Wadhams, Univ Cambridge

Marc Lang
Marc Lang
3 years ago
Reply to  Peter Wadhams

What utter nonsense. Here in France most homes are heated using wood as they are across most of Europe. I only hope you don’t drive a car.

David Norton
David Norton
2 years ago
Reply to  Peter Wadhams

Ok peter.. do you have a gas boiler.?.. then dont be a fool to think that your boiler is clean.. its spews out carbon monoxide and nitrogen oxides.. look at various nitrogen emissions.. terrible for lung diseases.. visibility is only one way to spot poisons. .most people feel that gas is clean.. very much on the contrary.!! ban boilers.. ban cars. .ban air travel.. ban food deliveries from disgusting diesel lorries..ban breeding more damn humans..!!!.. try not to be taken in by trendy views.. of which the propagators of .. are total hypocrites.

Theo
Theo
3 years ago

The article mentions concern about opening up an old fireplace and using an old wood burning stoves. But, there are regulations in place so a fireplace must be properly fitted out and certificated and the law prohibits using old wood burning stoves.

Joseph whiton
Joseph whiton
3 years ago

If you guys could reasonably point out that all wood stoves are not to blame. For example, many stoves do make thick visible smoke, and yes this is a hazard to breathe, but many modern stoves burn so clean that there is no visible pm and nonetheless if you breathe the exhaust it almost has no smoke odor and will not burn your eyes. This is achieved by not dampering down the burn. Wood is a carbon neutral fuel that can be used cleanly, if it was accurately reported on and not bashed by environmental crazy people who don’t understand the benefit of work aka processing the firewood in the first place.

Rory Niles
Rory Niles
3 years ago
Reply to  Joseph whiton

In the article it says
‘But even the best stoves still emit air pollution, in their biomass report, the Air Quality Expert Group found that burning wood in an Ecodesign stove was similar to the emissions from six Euro V1 HGVs.’
And actually those stoves reduce their particulate output by recirculating the hot gases – giving more time to burn the particles.

David Norton
David Norton
2 years ago
Reply to  Rory Niles

Do you use a gas boiler.?? then think on.. as well as carbon monoxide there is huge quantity of nitrogen oxides.. hugely destructive to the lungs.. and every house has a boiler.. with someone inside thinking they are nice and responsible.. totally deluded.

John Heppell
John Heppell
3 years ago

The Government imports wood to make our electricity. Leave our heaters alone.

David Norton
David Norton
2 years ago
Reply to  John Heppell

And masses of coal.. and orilmulsion.

Pattherealist
Pattherealist
3 years ago

There are 20 times the population of people on the planet as there were as you say “1000s of years ago.” If you want to live as we did back then , you must stop having babies. Our numbers is what causing the enviornmental problems. Almost 8 billion people along with the lifestyles we demand is wrecking the enviornment. Stop reproducing or at least slow it down for 200 years. End of problem!!

David Norton
David Norton
2 years ago
Reply to  Pattherealist

To be precise..1.7 billion in 1900 world population.. present day nearly 8 billion..and most of them feel its their ‘right’ to breed more disaster to the world ..

Veronica Healy
Veronica Healy
3 years ago

Personality if I didn’t have my log burning stove I would freeze to death. Much prefer wood, and coal , to central heating, be it electric, or gas , they are very drying these also create coughs and colds. Speaking of coal, and wood being carcinogenic, read up on how Rock wool and fibre glass are made and what they are made from .both these products are carcinogenic made from stone in quarries, with slag from coal and fibreglass these are present in lots of buildings. Coal,wood, mother nature produced in the ground by way of nature .another culprit to our environment land fill
Leaveourlog burners alone, they are an income for some people as are wood and coal merchants.

Nick
Nick
3 years ago

Clearly this is an area of concern – just a few thoughts as someone who is both active on climate change and loves my woodburner:

– any discussion of home heating needs to start and finish with the importance of improving insulation and draft proofing, which is far and away the best thing for the climate and thermal comfort.
– the gas / tree comparison point above is not correct – wood that is not burnt and decomposes is very likely to release some or even most of its carbon (its complicated) whereas gas that is not burnt and is left in the ground will not release any. That is before we get on to the destructive lobbying power of the fossil fuel industry which has delayed and slowed action on climate change over decades.
– like most home heating options, there is a lot of scope for better or worse use. We use our stove at times in the week as an alternative to our central heating, directly cutting gas use, not as a supplement. We use a moisture meter to check wood is properly dry.
– the recent Guardian coverage of research on internal air pollution from stoves (I read the original) basically correlates with opening the stove door; in my experience depending on whether you crack it first to equalise the pressure makes a huge difference as to risk of smoke coming out – there was no discussion of this in the research, and could be an area for more scrutiny (or technical fixes). For the avoidance of doubt on this point, I do also appreciate that much pollution is not visible.
– from the article, and comments, external air pollution from stoves is a problem, We need to take that seriously, while not excusing traffic pollution. (On an anecdotal level, my partner who has long term sinus problems has no correlation of symptoms with our stove use or evenings when you can smell wood smoke outdoors, but 5 minutes in bad traffic and is in pain).
– the heat efficiency of a modern stove over an open fire is huge (open chimneys are also an insulation disaster), as well as a cleaner burn
– on the basis of the evidence of air pollution problems, I can see we should not be actively promoting wood burning as a climate solution; however, I’m not persuaded that wood burning is bad in climate terms, nor that the air pollution problem is so acute (especially relative to traffic, volatile paint and other household chemicals etc) that we should ban it. However, as well as the steps on coal and wet wood, it sounds like there is a strong case for banning open fires, and perhaps completely banning wood burning in larger urban areas, on the basis of air pollution.

Carl
Carl
3 years ago

These dumb asses will spew all kinds of vial to try to get everyone to believe this climate change. I want to know where is it written or told that this earth went through an ice age and started to warm and there is no science that is truthful by man or woman that the ice would be around for ever QUIT trying to play GOD you are stupid if you believe this bull shit . Wake up world they just want power and money

Andrew Wasowski
Andrew Wasowski
3 years ago
Reply to  Carl

(A) Personally l don’t think there is a God…. not as we Imagine him.
(B) Climate Change is Real, Scientifically Proven Yes the Earth has been through Numerous Climate Changes, Ice Ages and Temperate Tempetures recorded at the North and South Poles, all natural Occurances……. But Human Activity, Interaction and Exploitation of like for Instance, the Amazon Forest now a Cause of Great Concern to all Conservationists. Ask David Attenborough. one of the most influential and Smartest men on this Planet
(3) Don’t Bury your Head in the Sand, the Danger is real and it is Knocking on our Door now, Get this Wrong and what will Future Generations think of us…… Or Don’t You Care, If you do have a Wood Burning like l once did. Do Yourself and Future Generations a Favor, Sling it, And if you’re a Member of the Flat Earth Society then you are also wasting your time……it’s Round, also scientifically Proven.

Stoptoxicairpolluters
Stoptoxicairpolluters
3 years ago

There is a true and living God who intends to intervene and remove all those who ruin the earrh and make the lives of innocent people and animals an absolute misery.

David Norton
David Norton
2 years ago

there are also many good psychiatrists who can help deluded believers in man made entities..

Chris
Chris
3 years ago

My last comment didnt work so here we go again. The argument against burning wood doesn’t hold up. A tree doesn’t release any more polluants than it captures during it’s lifetime. If we had only ever used wood as a source of heat, instead of switching to gas central heating, there would have never been any more co2 released into the atmosphere than was already there previously. What the planet needs is for more people to go back to wood as a source of energy as it is the most renewable heating source that exists. When you use gas central heating you’re burning petrochemicals. Have none of the people commenting on here seen the fumes that come from gas boilers? Try breathing that in for a minute and then say that wood smoke is bad. Not to mention it isn’t renewable. And as for calling wood stoves a “trend”, think about this. Wood has been used for heating for thousands of years, wheras your gas central heating isn’t even a century old, who is really following “trends” here? You’re just contributing to the problem of lining the pockets of oil, gas and mining companies, and destroying the environment while you do it.

Joe
Joe
3 years ago
Reply to  Chris

You’ve completely ignored the PM2.5 argument. I have 2 children. It’s horrifying to think I’m powerless to stop the guy in my road who burns all manner of rubbish, both in his woodburner & his garden poisoning me & them. If we get cancer in the future, who is to blame? Co2 is not the issue here. If you bury trees for a few thousand years it will turn to coal, does that make burning coal ok?

David Norton
David Norton
2 years ago
Reply to  Joe

You’ve completely ignored the fact that you are a major polluter every time you turn on your ‘clean’ boiler.. absolutely I agree that irresponsible burning of rubbish should be policed.. but dont think for one minute that your gas and electricity is a clean source of fuel.. nitrogen oxides which are spewed out from house boilers are totally responsible for asthma and many other lung diseases.. and there are far far far more of these in houses.. silently killing people.. under the guise of clean burning,… !!!!

Last edited 2 years ago by David Norton
Lynda
Lynda
3 years ago

These people complaining are usually the ones who walk out there door an get in a car proberly 4 wheel drive.jet off on holidays all over the world.just like attenborough.how much pullution as he contributed.the rich and famous.hypocrites the lot of them.shipping food from one end of the world to another.shipping shoddy goods from china because the rich just want that extra money.get your own house in order before taking enjoyment from ordinary working people.why not start with the royal family because old charlie boy doesn’t need a house that size.stop keep nit picking at people who just want to have a peaceful life.hypicrites the lot of you

Rosy Curtis
Rosy Curtis
3 years ago
Reply to  Lynda

ABSOLUTELY you nailed the argument. Thank you.

Linda
Linda
3 years ago

The numbers speak for themselves: the air has become hazardous around us and it keeps exceeding safe levels every single day during the winter. We can blame China or other third parties,but it would be more helpful to take action instead. If we sign contracts with companies who provide us with 100% renewable energy, we can all win and our children can have a better future, with fewer cases of asthma and cancer. Please please consider this when deciding how to heat your homes.

Tom D
Tom D
3 years ago

This phenomenon is so sad and depressing. This is exactly like smoking in public places, however, in this case, we have no other option than breathing in the highly toxic air WHILE AT HOME. This is the unfair part. Even if there is just a single irresponsible person burning wood in the area, it is still killing us all, slowly but surely.

Rich
Rich
3 years ago
Reply to  Tom D

Gas, still gives off dangerous fumes and is a fossil fuel which should be banned first, wood is a renewable source, that can be used in a self sufficient way, fuel companies are against public usage but electricity still use it or coal

Stoptoxicairpolluters
Stoptoxicairpolluters
3 years ago
Reply to  Rich

Whitewashing

Richard Ward
Richard Ward
3 years ago
Reply to  Tom D

Gas boilers , cars, planes, nd coal power stations are killing the planet

David Norton
David Norton
2 years ago
Reply to  Tom D

Gas boilers are just as much..if not more damaging to your lungs.. Nitrogen oxides..all of which are belched out from boilers..(as well as carbon monoxide) thats the smell you get N. oxides… are every bit as lethal.. if not MORE so.. cos boilers are in almost EVERY home.

Bob
Bob
3 years ago

This is ridiculously misleading.

John
John
3 years ago

Also remember where there still is no 3G phone signal nor any form of fibre Internet another matter all to its self, wood is the only source of heat and hot water for houses.

Dan
Dan
3 years ago

Another angle on this is that the fuel companies stand to lose income and the government revenue if significant numbers of people start to use wood for their home heating. Wood is generally free and much cheaper than electricity gas or oil. It is therefore in the interests of government and suppliers to protect their profits by making the argument that burning wood is evil.
In the USA some states have made going off-grid illegal, not because of environmental concerns but to ensure that there is no loss of revenue.
This official demonisation of the woodburner is part of the plan to maintain the status quo., in many cases buying off experts to push their agenda. The privatised fuel industry has got a lot to answer for in its obscenely excessive prices which cause fuel poverty and the necessity for people to seek alternative ways of heating. They shouldn’t be allowed to have it both ways.

Chris
Chris
3 years ago
Reply to  Dan

You’re completely right. It’s propaganda from the fuel industry. Wood is the cleanest and most renewable energy source that exists, and you can provide it for yourself of your own land or locally sourced, and the big oil companies hate that! I just can’t believe how many people buy the lie. This website comes out with so much unscientific nonsense sometimes I can’t help but think it’s an arm of the oil lobbying industry.

D Mckay
D Mckay
3 years ago

Because they are inexpensive to operate, with electric heat running 500$ for two months, what do you expect

Mat Jaggard
Mat Jaggard
3 years ago

All the information and discussion is around people living in London. I can find very little in the way of research into how far the particulates travel. I live in a village and the prevailing wind travels a number of miles over flood plain. Is my wood burning stove really having any significant impact on others or not? I already understand the internal impact and so we rarely open the door to the stove and then add plenty of wood at a time.

Misel
Misel
3 years ago

Nuclear power diesel motors and u speak about wood burning. How stupid u all can be

R smith
R smith
3 years ago

If i want to have a wood burner I will. Im not a townie, i live in the countryside, electricity is not a guarantee to run other heating options. So to heat my home in the depths of winter i burn wood sourced from my land and seasoned. This has been the way for many years our wood burner is over 35 years old.

Stoptoxicairpolluters
Stoptoxicairpolluters
3 years ago
Reply to  R smith

False and self imposed god of your own corrupt world-utterly selfish and indefensible.

Elizabeth Bingley
Elizabeth Bingley
3 years ago

In rural areas and places where electricity and gas are unreliable in winter, wood is necessary for survival. Where I live, it is so cold in winter heat is absolutely necessary and snow makes gas delivery impossible while electricity is just as unreliable with 2 week outages being a fact of life. Moving is economically impossible.
The new technology with secondary combustion mechanisms makes wood a lot better than it used to be and for people with lung sensitivity like my aunt, keeping the dust cleaned daily makes her life easier in winter with wood because the heat is “dry”. This is not such a simple cut and dry issue for many people, pun intended. Until we can provide for rural and rural impoverished communities. This cannot be a productive discussion outside more urban areas.

IJG
IJG
3 years ago

Can you shed some light on the effect of burning different sorts of ‘logs’ in the wood-burning stove please. What about coffee logs or locally-sourced sawdust briquettes for example?

Craig Nattress
Craig Nattress
3 years ago
Reply to  IJG

That’s what I’d like to know more about, I buy compacted sawdust briquettes as they don’t have any moisture content, so I’m led to believe they are better on PM’s. Can anyone confirm?

Chris Causey
Chris Causey
3 years ago

I’ll give you coal but the argument against burning wood doesn’t hold up. A tree doesn’t release any more polluants than it captures during it’s lifetime. If we had only ever used wood as a source of heat, instead of switching to gas central heating, there would have never been any more co2 released into the atmosphere than was already there. What the planet needs is for more people to go back to wood as a source of energy as it is the most renewable heating source that exists.

Ian
Ian
3 years ago

I would like to point out that in the article it says that it is better to leave a tree than to chop it down and burn it and produce co2 and dangerous particulate pollution.i totally agree but also burning gas also produces co2 that has been locked away for thousands of years far longer than any tree.I have a wood burner and I can assure you that trees are only felled for timber or because they are a danger to the public from falling over due to bad footing or rot.all of the wood that I burn is from what cannot be used as timber and is well seasoned (dry).There are laws that protect trees from being felled for firewood and rightly so.Jumping on the individual to change their ways is easy,taking on the industry giants who remain by far the biggest polluters is more difficult and that is where the focus should be

Dick
Dick
3 years ago

Wholly gaslighting!

John Rowe
John Rowe
3 years ago

Perhaps one solution here would be to mandate some form of flue gas treatment technology, such as an electrostatic precipitator or a bag filter? These are mandatory in large combustion plant using solid fuels and work to good effect. After a quick Web search I find that both are available in the marketplace. If this was to be mandated then costs would fall.

Joseph whiton
Joseph whiton
3 years ago
Reply to  John Rowe

It’s called a catalyst on the stove. Been around for ages. And when run correctly it gets hot and you can not see any smoke coming from the chimney.

Alan Jones
Alan Jones
3 years ago

I’ve been involved with energy for 40 years. Burning wood is madness. Wood should capture CO2 and stay that way, not release it again.
Wood houses, furniture, etc. Lock up CO2

Joseph whiton
Joseph whiton
3 years ago
Reply to  Alan Jones

What should capture the co2 would be trees yes, but if they keep clearing them all to build houses like the current trend them what would you propose?

Daniel Jeff Dawson
Daniel Jeff Dawson
3 years ago

And it gets worse. When liberals regulate gas and oil so much and so long that ordinary people can’t afford it, they’re going to change to Wood or anything else they can burn to keep warm and cook. Remember these words when you wake up and all your Landscaping has been torn up for the crowd to burn and I did.

Sheriff woody
Sheriff woody
3 years ago

Will be using mines as wood is free and it’s saving me plenty of money, Energy suppliers
Keep putting prices up.. Only thing that I’m interested in is keeping my family warm ( no fumes in my house that’s a myth)

Help us break the news – share your information, opinion or analysis
Back to top