Are you burning wood in a wood stove or fireplace this winter? If so, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency encourages you to burn a more efficient and cleaner fire. Wood smoke is made up of a mixture of gases and fine particle pollution that isn’t healthy to breathe indoors or out – especially for children, older adults and those with heart and lung disease, and asthma.
Reducing smoke from your chimney can be easy. Burning dry firewood in a properly installed and operated EPA-certified wood stove should produce little smoke.
Here are a few tips to help produce a more efficient and cleaner fire:
- Upgrade to an EPA-certified wood stove or fireplace insert. These models are more efficient than older models, making your air cleaner, your home safer, and your fuel bill lower, while keeping you warm in the winter. An estimated 12 million Americans heat their homes with wood stoves each winter, and nearly three-quarters of these stoves are not EPA-certified. An EPA-certified wood stove can emit nearly 70 percent less smoke than older uncertified models and is approximately 50 percent more efficient, meaning you get more heat with less wood.
- Burn only dry, seasoned wood. Burning dry firewood can add up to a significant cost savings over the winter. Look for wood that is darker, has cracks in the end grain, and sounds hollow when it is hit against another piece of wood. Use a wood moisture meter, available at wood working stores and online to tell if your wood is ready to burn. It should have 20 percent moisture or less. Never burn painted or treated wood or trash. Painted wood and trash can release harmful toxins and cause chimney fires.
- Have a certified professional inspect and service your wood stove or fireplace annually. A certified technician can clean dangerous soot from your chimney and keep your wood stove or fireplace working properly, which reduces your risk of a home fire.
- Consider converting your open wood-burning fireplace to a more efficient, less-polluting appliance by installing a wood stove insert or gas appliance. Wood-burning fireplaces do not burn as cleanly as EPA-certified wood stoves. If you continue to use the fireplace, consider having a professional install a gas fireplace insert, a gas log lighter or a catalyst device to reduce pollution and increase efficiency.
To learn more, check out the EPA website for “Burn Wise,” a partnership program that emphasizes the importance of burning the right wood, the right way, in the right wood-burning appliance to protect your home. Visit www.epa.gov/burnwise.