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Improving Air Quality in Your Community

Outdoor Air - Industry, Business, and Home: Residential Wood Burning

You can help residential wood burning consumers reduce emissions of hazardous air pollutants (HAPs), particle pollution, and volatile organic compounds (VOC) that may affect families, neighbors, and the community by encouraging residential wood-burning appliance users to conduct these activities:


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Consider Cleaner Heating Fuels

      How?
  • Use a cleaner heating alternative such as gas, oil, propane, or electric heat. This will help reduce wood smoke exposure to the family and neighbors and will heat the home more efficiently.
      Benefits
  • Cleaner heating alternatives reduce the exposure of wood smoke to families and their neighbors and will also heat homes more efficiently.
      Costs
  • Capital costs of purchasing new equipment to burn alternative fuels.
  • Cost of purchasing types of fuels other than wood.
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Heat More Efficiently

      How?
  • Replace an old wood stove, fireplace insert, or fireplace with an EPA-certified wood stove or EPA-certified fireplace insert.
  • Install a wood pellet stove, which uses compressed wood waste. It uses excess combustion air to make a fire burn hot and clean. Wood pellet stoves are considered the most efficient stoves available.
  • Stop using a fireplace or install an EPA-certified wood burning fireplace insert.
      Benefits
  • EPA-certified stoves use about one-third as much wood and circulate more heat into the home instead of out the flue (Oregon Department of Environmental Quality [ODEQ]).
  • EPA-certified stoves emit 50% to 60% less pollution. Some of the newest models are even more efficient (70+%) (ODEQ).
  • Pellet stoves have efficiency ratings exceeding 80% (Focus on Energy).
  • An EPA-certified fireplace insert burns fuel more efficiently when compared to a fireplace, which may even cause a home to lose heat.
      Costs
  • Capital cost of purchasing EPA-certified wood stoves or fireplace inserts.
  • Cost of using different fuels such as wood pellets.
      More Information

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Change Operating Practices

      How?
  • Burn only clean, dry, and seasoned wood that has been split and dried for at least 6 months.
  • Burn hardwood rather than softwoods. Hardwoods are denser and burn more slowly and evenly, which produces less smoke. Hardwoods also provide more heat energy.
  • Never burn garbage, trash, plastics, rubber, petroleum products, paints, solvents, charcoal/coal, or treated woods. Burning these materials can be toxic and extremely harmful. These toxins can also foul catalytic combustors and flues.
  • Burn small, hot fires instead of large, smoldering fires.
  • Use small pieces of wood and do not overload the appliance.
  • Watch the chimney for smoke. Properly burning fires should give off only a wisp of white steam. The darker and thicker the smoke, the more pollutants the fire emits, and the more fuel it wastes.
  • Do not burn wood when the air quality is poor.
      Benefits
  • Hardwoods are denser and burn more slowly. They also provide more heat energy.
      Costs
  • Cost of purchasing hardwood.
      More Information

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Inspect and Maintain

      How?
  • Have a professional inspect wood heaters and chimneys on an annual basis. These are essential to ensure safe and clean wood burning.
  • Have a professional regularly clean chimneys to remove creosote buildup.
      Benefits
  • Keeps chimneys and wood burning appliances safe from fires and leakage of HAPs.
  • Reduces chance of chimney fires.
  • Each year in Oregon there are between 1,000 and 2,000 home and chimney fires caused by wood stoves (ODEQ).
      Costs
  • Annual cost of cleaning and inspecting chimneys and appliances.
      More Information

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