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Wood Burning Practices

Wood is a renewable energy resource and is carbon neutral, as long as it is harvested in a sustainable manner without causing deforestation.

However, there are environmental impacts that need to be considered when burning wood.  When wood is not burned properly, it can have negative impacts on both outdoor and indoor air quality. Smoldering, smoky fires that produce a plume of blue-gray smoke from the chimney are the main cause of air pollution related to wood burning. You can reduce the amount of smoke from wood heating in many ways.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) suggests the following guidelines to make certain that whether you are burning wood in a wood stove or using a fireplace insert, efficiency is maximized.

1. Replace an old woodstove, fireplace, or fireplace insert with new, more efficient, EPA-certified equipment. New woodstoves use less wood.

2. Burn only hardwoods that are clean, dry, and seasoned because they produce lower emissions of pollutants.

3. Never burn garbage, trash, plastics, paints, solvents, charcoal/coal, or treated woods.

4. Burn small, hot fires instead of large, smoldering fires.

5. Have the chimney and the woodstove, insert, or fireplace inspected annually by a professional.

For additional tips and guidelines please visit the EPA website at:

http://www.epa.gov/woodstoves/efficiently.html#tips and http://www.epa.gov/air/toxicair/community/guide/wood_stoves_comm_info.pdf


Ann Shaughnessy
Director, Rensselaer County EMC