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News Article - Renewable energy and wood stoves

Friday, December 11th 2009 5:05:42pm

Burn Wood? Burn Wise!

Increase the heat and reduce the smoke from your woodstove

By: Craig Gutowski


This piece is available for publication at no charge so long as Mr. Gutowski is cited as the author. Contact information for local and regional woodstove experts is available by contacting the Hearth, Patio and Barbecue Association of Canada at: 1-800-792-5284.

(Huntsville ON, December 13, 2009) Everyone wants to save some money on their heating bills, while maintaining a "green" lifestyle. But we can't all afford the more expensive, occasionally less convenient, options of geothermal, solar, or wind power.

Hundreds of thousands of Canadians use woodstoves, but many of those are outdated models that lack clean burning technology. Efficient wood-burning is as environmentally friendly as other renewable energy sources, and a fraction of the price. Many of the best, cleanest-burning appliances are manufactured right here in Canada, so you can support a home-grown industry at the same time.

But not all woodstoves are created equal. If you own an older model, you should consider upgrading to the latest clean-burning technology.  Here's why:

Time to upgrade your woodstove

Think about purchasing an advanced combustion EPA woodstove, insert or fireplace.

Clean glass technology allows you to enjoy a beautiful fire and uses one third less wood than a traditional woodstove. By burning the smoke in the stove, chimney emissions and creosote deposits are both substantially reduced.

Older models emit 40-80 grams of smoke per hour; the new EPA approved CSAB415 woodstove emits only 2-5 grams of smoke per hour. That's a 90% reduction. Rebates are now available through the federal government's ecoENERGY retrofit program, too. An EPA/CSAB415 woodstove is eligible for $375 in ecoENERGY rebates, and another $375 from the Ontario provincial government, for a total of $750.

What to burn

Ideally, you want to burn only clean, seasoned wood (split and stored a year ahead). If you cut your own firewood, split it into pieces that are 4 - 6 inches in diameter (10-15 cm). This will expose more surface area to the flame, and ensure a cleaner burn.

Your wood should be stored outside, not in the home where it could contribute to excess moisture and mold. Keep the wood off the ground and covered to protect it from the elements. A ventilated wood shed is preferable. Stack the logs - this allows air to move through and keep them dry.

Finally, avoid burning wet or green wood. Wet wood is difficult to burn and produces cooler fires; it also leads to creosote in your chimney, which is a fire hazard.

Don't burn garbage - put it in the trash!

Your woodstove is NOT a garbage incinerator - you can't use it to dispose of plastic, cardboard, magazines, plywood or pressure-treated wood. You may avoid filling the local dump, but when you'll send persistent toxic chemicals into the air. These substances don't break down and will settle into soil, vegetation and water.

According to Environment Canada, burning garbage is the fifth largest contributor to airborne toxins in the country.

These are just a few tips to remember as you gear up for another winter season. For more suggestions on how to use your woodstove responsibly, please visit www.hpbacanada.org.

Craig Gutowski
is President of The Foundry, a one-stop supplier to hearth shops across Ontario.


Media Contact:

Tony Gottschalk