Australians have been burning wood for centuries to keep themselves warm in winter. Many still enjoy the warmth and comfort of a wood heater.
Scientists have shown that smoke from a wood heater may indicate:
- unburnt fuel emitted into the atmosphere;
- pollution causing respiratory problems; and
- potentially hundreds of dollars a year wasted.
Minimising wood smoke pollution contributes to significant benefits for everyone by improving our air quality, reducing the maintenance and running costs of your wood heater, and saving you money. Wood smoke contains particles so small that, when inhaled, they can cross the lung lining and end up in the blood stream. Wood smoke also contains other chemicals that can affect our health. One crucial way to minimize smoke from a wood stove is to use wood that is dry, a moisture range of 12-16% is recommended. Opening your air controls for 15-20 minutes each time you refuel will also help in smoke reduction.
The Dept of Environment Wood heaters and wood smoke – Air quality fact sheet recommends that if you are buying a new wood heater, make sure you buy one that conforms to the Australian Standard ‘AS 4013’, as this Standard includes limits for flue emissions. Wood heaters are also rated for their efficiency so one that is 65% efficient will burn less wood for the same amount of heat than one that is only 60% efficient. Check the label.
The Standards Australia Technical Committee CS-062 is currently developing and amending AS/NZS 4012 Domestic solid fuel burning appliances – Method for determination of power output and efficiency and AS/NZS 4013 Domestic solid fuel burning appliances – Method for determination of flue gas emission. Rebecca Searcy and Bill Yeo are the CFA representatives on the committee.