Wood Burning Stoves and Your Carbon Footprint

Climate change we are currently witnessing is probably one of the greatest challenges humanity has ever faced. The forecasts are highly pessimistic and if we all do not start to behave more environmentally responsible, the future is highly uncertain. Each one of us contributes to the rising carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere which is thought to be the number one cause of climate change. This, however, also means that each one of us can help reverse it.

Since the world’s forest play a highly important role in neutralising the effects of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases, wood burning stove may not seem a particularly environmentally-friendly choice. But the truth is right the opposite. Wood fuel is classified as carbon neutral fuel which means that it has net zero carbon footprint. Surprised? Well, it is true. Let’s see why.

With every fallen tree, carbon dioxide emissions in the atmosphere increase because trees absorb this harmful gas and release pure oxygen. And while the wood is burning, the smoke that is released also releases carbon dioxide. So how can wood fuel have net zero carbon footprint? The thing is that carbon dioxide which is released when the wood is burned can effectively be absorbed by the tree that was planted on the site of the fallen one. And when the replacement tree is cut down, another one steps into its place. And this practice can go on forever. But even then, eco-friendliness is not assured.

In addition to making sure that the wood fuel is sourced from sustainably managed forests and plantations, it is also highly important to use energy efficient wood burning stoves. They give maximum heat output, produce little smoke pollution and do not need large amounts of wood fuel to create a satisfactory warmth even during the coldest winter months. The higher the efficiency of the stove (the best ones are operating with efficiency of about 85 percent), the less wood fuel is used. And the more the trees left standing the lower the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.

Just as important as choosing and operating wood burning stove efficiently is to choose the right wood logs. Your carbon footprint will not increase as long as you burn logs that are sourced from sustainably managed forests. But burning unseasoned wood for instance will not keep you warm during the winter nor reduce your heating costs as much as fully seasoned logs. These have up to 50 percent higher caloric value which means that you will burn less seasoned logs to achieve the same or even higher heat output than by burning unseasoned wood.

Considering that about 17 percent of carbon dioxide emissions are produced by households (for a comparison, business create 15 percent of all carbon dioxide emissions), mostly through heating, you can dramatically reduce your carbon footprint by heating your home with wood burning stove. And besides helping to save the planet, you can also save a great deal of money.