Firewood can be more eco-friendly than natural gas when sourced, burnt, and disposed of properly. It is a renewable resource – better than coal; modern woodfire heaters burn it efficiently; and wood ash is a good fertiliser, as compared to coal ash, which has little use. Experts opine that burning wood emits less carbon than a naturally biodegradable tree. Thus, wood burning can be a carbon-neutral activity, depending on the following factors:
You may be helping the environment if you source your wood from a farm rather than from a forest. While exploiting forests for firewood can have a detrimental effect on the local flora and fauna, farm-grown firewood has the opposite effect.
For instance, large barren areas such as Victoria’s Goldfields are repurposed as firewood farms. Doing so has benefited the ecosystem as well as farming communities by:
· Creating fresh habitat
· Providing shelter for sheep and cattle
· Regulating soil salinity
· Reducing demand for firewood originating from forests.
Efficient burning can be achieved using woodfire heaters that comply with the Australian Standards AS/NZS 4012, 4013, or 2918. Firewood, if efficiently burnt, is less polluting and more sustainable than natural gas or coal heaters.
· To minimise pollution, ensure that your firewood contains less than 20% moisture content. The Department of Industry, Science, Energy, and Resources has trade measurement laws restricting the firewood industry from selling greenwood (with a moisture content greater than 20%) as fuel. Ensure that you buy your firewood from a reliable source.
· Regularly check the flues, ventilation, and chimneys of your firewood heater. Leakages can reduce the efficiency of burning and heat transfer, thus dearly costing you and the environment.
· Small, hot fires are less polluting than large, smouldering fires with giant firewood logs. Additionally, avoid using softwood for anything other than fire-starters or kindling. Softwood burns fast and bright and goes cold within a short time.
The ash from wood burning can stay hot for several hours. Do not directly dump it into the garbage, as it can start fires if it comes in contact with paper and other combustibles. Once you clear the ash from a heater, leave it out to cool in a covered metal container for at least 24 hours.
Once it is completely cool, you can put wood ash to any of the following uses:
· Mix it with compost to fertilise your garden.
· Sprinkle it on icy driveways to make them less slippery
· Use it to ward off pests – such as snails – from your vegetables.
General safety and efficiency tips:
· Keep combustible material – furniture, curtains, and carpets – at least three feet away from the heater.
· Ensure at least 6 inches of clearing if you want to use the heater on wooden flooring.
· Inadequate venting can lead to carbon monoxide poisoning. Thus, check the flue pipe, connector, and chimney for defects every time you use the heater.
· Install and switch on carbon monoxide and smoke detectors. Additionally, open your windows slightly when you’re operating the heater.
· Ensure that the heater complies with the Australian Standards AS/NZS 4012, 4013, or 2918.
When sourced sustainably, firewood is a carbon-neutral fuel for heating your house. When used with efficient wood stoves, it can cause less air pollution than other conventional heating methods. Finally, the wood ash makes for good compost for your garden. Responsible firewood burning is the best way to warm your winters.
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