Tips to Improve Your Environmental Footprint When Using Your Wood-Burning Fireplace
With winter here, and the recent arrival of the first snowfall, you’re probably using your wood-burning fireplace on a regular basis. Wood fireplaces provide heat and comfort for our long, cold, and dark winter season. With an abundance of wood in Canada, it’s an incredibly accessible renewable resource for home heating.
The best part is that there are now environmentally irresponsible ways to source and burn wood. If you don’t use energy-efficient models of wood-burning fireplaces, inserts, or stoves, larger amounts of particulate emissions from burning wood pollute the air. Also, the amount of fuel used to source wood—for chopping and transporting—can be fairly high, especially when you buy wood from sources located further away. The unfortunate reality is that some woodlots don’t use sustainable practices when cutting down trees.
So, to make sure your wood-burning fireplace is as eco-friendly as possible, follow these tips:
Only Burn Wood in Suitable Locations
Due to the particulate emissions from burning firewood, large cities are not suitable for using wood fireplaces and stoves. These home heating solutions are ideal in rural areas away from congested urban centres. However, Ottawa is a small city that doesn’t experience smog, so it’s okay to burn firewood. Larger cities like Montreal and Toronto have far too much air pollution already, so burning wood in these urban areas will only worsen the poor air quality.
Upgrade to Energy-Efficient Fireplaces
If your fireplace is old, it probably doesn’t heat your home very well because most of the heat will escape through the mortar and up the chimney. You will end up burning more wood in less time just to get the desired temperature in your home. So, to avoid burning excess wood—and creating more emissions—consider upgrading to a more energy-efficient fireplace. You can do this with a new fireplace, a fireplace insert, or by opting for an energy-efficient wood stove.
Make Sure Your Home is Well-Insulated
Another problem that leads to heat loss in homes, and the use of more wood, is poor insulation. Heat escapes quickly through windows, doors, and attics during the winter if they are not well-insulated. Be sure to inspect the insulation in your attic, and replace it if necessary. And if your windows and doors are old, consider replacing them to save on energy both in the cold and hot weather. In the meantime, you can replace the weather-stripping on your doors, and cover your windows with window kits to increase insulation this winter.
Source Your Wood Locally
If you have enough trees on your property to sustainably source for your firewood supply, then you are a step ahead and can source your own wood with minimal energy use. If not, search for local firewood suppliers who sustainably manage their woodlots. Also, the closer they are located to you, the less transportation fuel they will use to deliver your firewood.
Keep these tips in mind to make your wood-burning fireplace as eco-friendly as possible. You can enjoy the winter days and nights by the fire knowing that you’ve reduced your environmental footprint with the help of an energy-efficient, sustainably-sourced fire.