Are wood burning fireplaces good for the environment?

Posted on: 30 September 2015

There are few things more comforting than spending a winter night in your own home, sitting next to a roaring wood burning fire with your family. But although wood burning fires are beautiful and cosy, are they environmentally friendly? For many home owners today, this is a massive priority. Global warming is one of the most pressing issues facing the planet, and homeowners who are interested in green living are willing to pay a premium for green properties. So here's what you need to know about the green credentials of your fireplace.

Burning does release toxins. The simple fact is that when you burn anything, including firewood for heating, toxins are released into the atmosphere and this is not good for the environment. There are, however, measures you can take to ensure that the firewood you choose does the least damage possible.

First of all, you need to opt for a dry wood. When a wood is still a bit green, there is more moisture, and more harmful smoke is released into the atmosphere as a result. Secondly, you want to choose a hardwood that is more efficient in terms of the heat that it provides. Some good choices are eucalyptus, oak, and hickory. If you choose a light wood like pine, you will find that it burns very quickly, and thus more trees would need to be cut down to create as much heat energy as a hardwood.

Your firewood supplier matters. It's not just the type of wood you choose that has a bearing on the energy efficiency of your wood burning fire, but also your firewood supplier. If at all possible, find a local supplier. This has two benefits. First of all, the amount of energy used to transport the wood to your home will be minimal and thus more eco-friendly. Secondly, you can get to know the supplier and ask questions about how they maintain a sustainable practice and what they do to replace trees that have been cut down.

Your fire's efficiency will also depend on your insulation. Heating your home is not the job of your fireplace alone, and your fireplace will have to work far fewer hours (thus using far less energy and releasing fewer toxins) if you have superior home insulation. There are many ways to insulate your home. You can add insulation to the attic so that heat doesn't escape through the roof, you can layer it between your walls, and you can upgrade your window glazing to ensure that heat does not escape.