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To be surprised people think wood burning stoves are environmentally friendly?

(74 Posts)
Olympiathequeen Sat 21-Oct-17 11:17:45

I’ve been scratching my head for years as these stoves increased in popularity and belch out woodsmoke.

The folksy, homely image of these stoves has been pushed despite the fact they are clearly burning a polluting substance.

Hollow laugh as London is now talking about the polluting effect of the burned particulates.

What did they think a wood burning stove produced? Fairy dust?

BarbarianMum Sat 21-Oct-17 11:22:23

I live in a clean air zone and my stove is approved for the area as it burns cleanly w v little particulate matter. I buy wood from a local conservation charity who produce it from their nature reserves so know that it is sustainable sourced. So yes i do think its environmentally friendly.

Do you think the electricity and gas you use to heat your home is priduced without generating pollutants? Or do you just not care because they're not produced near you?

BlackForestCake Sat 21-Oct-17 11:22:28

They are more environmentally friendly than burning coal or oil, I think is the point. When you burn wood the carbon released is the same that the tree absorbed while it was alive not so long ago, so the net effect is zero. When you burn fossil fuels you are releasing carbon that would otherwise be locked up underneath the ground, adding to climate change.

Scruffette Sat 21-Oct-17 11:25:15

I understood that wood burners are environmentally sound as it is a sustainable product. We have one that effectively heats our house reducing our need to use oil. How do you heat your house OP?

Trills Sat 21-Oct-17 11:25:40

People don't think about things very clearly.

Burning wood is "natural" - they've probably got confused into thinking that "natural" = "all other good things" (healthy, environmentally friendly etc).

Scruffette Sat 21-Oct-17 11:39:29

Another pro for a Woodburner is that you control the airflow so reduce the speed of burning and therefore burn less than an open fire. I'm still wondering what those who object to wood burners heat their homes with that are so much more environmentally friendly.

Greypaw Sat 21-Oct-17 11:39:38

I have two large wood burning stoves and I can’t help thinking we’re been more environmentally friendly than if we constantly ran our central heating instead. I haven’t looked into this so perhaps I’m wrong, but we’re not on mains gas here so our central heating relies on oil deliveries. We would spend approximately £1200 a year to heat the house on oil alone and each delivery means an enormous tanker coming out to us. On the other hand if we supplement the oil with the wood burners, we use wood from our land that we save when the trees are pruned. Except for on the coldest days, we can heat the house with just the stoves and cut back on the oil. I’ve no doubt we are releasing pollutants when we burn the wood, but surely the production of oil is polluting in itself. Not to mention the fact that our central heating system (despite being updated and as efficient as they come) belches out a certain amount of waste. I think on balance we’re being as sustainable as we can be. Most of the properties round here seem to do similar, there are many people round here who just don’t have gas central heating and need alternatives.

riseandfall Sat 21-Oct-17 11:44:54

Ours has some sort of catalytic converter on it so reduces harmful emissions.

Agree that burning wood is totally carbon neutral as the tree dying naturally would release the carbon into the atmosphere anyhow unlike coal which is locked underground.

Babbitywabbit Sat 21-Oct-17 11:45:34

I’m confused OP. Who is saying wood burners are environmentally friendly? I’ve never heard anyone say they. They are, however, less polluting than many alternatives

Olympiathequeen Sat 21-Oct-17 11:51:15

Being sustainable doesn’t mean environmentally friendly. Woodsmoke produces noxious particulates which damage lung health.

So much so that the Major of London is talking about banning them.

I predict that in 10 years more people will be aware of the danger and have ripped them out.

I do have gas central heating so I am adding to general pollution, but at least I know that my radiators aren’t leaking out poisonous gases that damage my children’s lungs.

Obviously if there is no choice then it’s a good option, but for many it’s a status symbol and even (when installation costs are taken into account) a cheaper option.

My cheaper option is my solar panels and cavity wall insulation.

BahHumbygge Sat 21-Oct-17 11:53:56

As long as the wood is from sustainably managed local woodland (and seasoned over time, not kiln dried), it is carbon neutral. There are different durations of carbon cycle...

Short term/biosphere carbon cycle (in the timescale of a few decades), where trees/grasslands/plankton emit and absorb carbon to and from the atmosphere during their growth cycles.

Long term/lithosphere carbon cycle (in the timescale of hundreds of millions of years). This is the formation of decaying plant matter into fossilised energy by geological processes in the strata of the rocks. This is what needs to be locked away from human industrial processes in order to prevent runaway climate change.

Of course there are localised considerations in cities and built up areas where immediate air pollution is an issue and a nuisance, so there should be restrictions on burning solid fuels for clean air purposes.

Branleuse Sat 21-Oct-17 11:55:01

i think i read somewhere that burning wood produced less pollution than the gases released from wood left to rot.

CalmanOnSpeeddial Sat 21-Oct-17 12:01:17

It’s the diesel vs petrol argument all over again. Wood stoves are more sustainable and have lower carbon emissions (assuming the wood is replanted) but their local emissions are often appalling.

I think people systematically ignore the health consequences of open fires because they’re “natural” and “traditional” and make us feel good at a primal level.

whiskyowl Sat 21-Oct-17 12:07:53

I think your post is confusing two things - environmental sustainability and health impacts.

Wood is a sustainable resource, and burning sustainably harvested timber is more carbon neutral than burning fossil fuels.

However, there is this problem with particulate matter. It can be ameliorated to a decent extent by using clean-burning stoves and properly seasoned wood so that combustion is really complete.

retirednow Sat 21-Oct-17 12:23:29

Neighbours have installed a wbs in a 70's bungalow so not part of the quaint look. It gives out smoke that blows into everyone else's homes, when its on you can't have windows open or hang out the washing. There are socially very unfriendly.

LecturingLife Sat 21-Oct-17 12:27:24

I have a smokeless zone rated stove but I'm sure it does still produce some particles. But we tend to use it when previously we would have put the central heating on.

That central heating which uses gas and electricity, from the coal fired power station. Which gets its coal delivered to it on a nasty diesel train, possibly from one end of the country to the other.

So both produce particles and are harmful to the environment. At least my wood is very local.

PurplePillowCase Sat 21-Oct-17 12:30:35

unless you can get the wood from very close by, you also have to consider the fuel needed for transport.
storage for drying wood needs large areas - usually not possible in areas where wood burning is popular.
the pollution from burning - fine smoke particles etc. is quite substantial.

Notlabeled Sat 21-Oct-17 12:30:48

Christ. OP is a sanctimonious cunt. I would love to examine their lifestyle with a finetooth comb and then ban any activity that I personally deem excessively polluting. I shall now buy a wood burning stove out of spite, and will pick it up from the shop by driving my 10 year old 3 litre diesel car.

Spadequeen Sat 21-Oct-17 12:35:06

Never realised my stove was a status symbol!

whiskyowl Sat 21-Oct-17 12:38:51

Oh come on notlabeled - it is a valid question to ask, and we all do have to think about and be responsible for the pollution we're causing. I get really disturbed by the idea that climate change is just a private matter - how on earth can we tackle it like that? Of course all of our "private" choices have public impacts - that's something we all need to come to terms with as people who live in the Anthropocene.

I say this as owner of one of these stoves, and as someone who doesn't feel that the OP's tone matches her knowledge on this subject grin

RemainOptimistic Sat 21-Oct-17 12:46:51

I think what OP is trying to say is that wood burning stoves are not OK because the pollution from them is being emitted on her street. Whereas the pollution from power plants, heavy industry, shipping and trains is OK because it's not emitted near her street.

OP where do you stand on particulate matter emitted from cars and buses on your street?

Lockheart Sat 21-Oct-17 12:55:09

I see the argument, but heating your house with central heating isn’t any more environmentally friendly, the damage just happens out of sight.

We get our logs from a local, sustainably farmed forest. All the ash waste goes onto our compost heaps and goes into producing next years veg! Having a fire also means we rarely burn any non-renewable gas for central heating.

Perhaps it’s different in the cities as there’s too many people burning wood in too small a space, but in the countryside the air is much cleaner.

On a practical note, I’d never buy a house without an open fire or wood burning stove, because in the event of a serious power cut in winter you’d be screwed. If I have a fire I can keep the house warm and make hot drinks and soup.

BeachyKeen Sat 21-Oct-17 12:58:57

What do you think happens with all the carbon in the tree when it does and rots in the woods? It still is released into the environment. Using standing dead, local, and abundant sources is fine.
Clear cutting/monoculture/green burn obviously not alright.

PseudoBadger Sat 21-Oct-17 12:59:30

So in London, which is almost entirely a Smoke Control Area under the Clean Air Act, you can legally only burn wood in an exempt appliance (as defined by Defra). Unfortunately approximately 60% of people burning wood in London are doing it in open fireplaces or non-exempt appliances. That is why the Mayor is discussing this.

Babbitywabbit Sat 21-Oct-17 13:01:51

‘I say this as owner of one of these stoves, and as someone who doesn't feel that the OP's tone matches her knowledge on this subject’


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