10 ways to reduce the environmental impact of your log fire
Action on climate change is accelerating at a rapid pace, and rightly so. With around 1.5 million UK homes with wood burners and open fires and counting, it’s vital that we do everything we can to lower the environmental impact of wood burning.
Wood is a renewable source of energy – as trees draw in carbon and turn it into energy. But wood-burning is only eco-efficient when the moisture content of the wood at the point of burning is below 20% – and the wood is sourced from local, ethical, and sustainably managed woodlands.
So why is action needed if wood-burning is a renewable source of heat?
To understand why action on how we light our log fires is so crucial, here are some statistics following a Woodsure ‘Burn Better’ survey at the end of 2020. The research, of over 2,000 people, revealed:
- Four in ten / 40% of Brits think they’re more likely to use their open fire or wood-burning stove in winter compared to pre-pandemic years, as people expect to spend more time at home.
- As the days shorten, over a third / 34% of people like an open fire or log burner to improve the aesthetics and coziness of their home.
- Two-thirds / 65% admit to burning materials that are detrimental to air quality and health, such as wrapping paper, household plastic, and furniture.
- A quarter / 25% admitted to burning house coal, and 19% burned waste wood such as pallets and treated timber.
- Nearly one in five / 19% believe wood burners and coal fires are the most environmentally friendly ways of heating their home.
With this in mind, accompanied by the fact that demand for wood-burning stoves continues to sky-rocket and more of us are lighting our fires more often and for longer, it’s imperative that we take action to flatline our environmental impact when lighting our wood fires.
And by taking a few simple and mindful steps…it’s not as hard as you might think.
10 ways you can reduce the environmental impact of log burning
So you get more heat, use less fuel, and with lower emissions, here are our 10 top tips to reduce your carbon footprint when firing up your log burner or open fire:
1) Only burn Ready To Burn certified kiln dried logs
If you’re completely new to wood-burning and completely uninitiated with the log-burning world – logs aren’t just logs! It’s incredibly important that you only burn logs that are dried to a moisture content below 20%. Why is this? Because burning wet wood is extremely polluting as it releases harmful PM2.5 particulates into the atmosphere and the air we breathe – including inside your home.
Not only does burning wet or part-seasoned wood cause harmful damage to air quality, but it dents your wallet too. All too often, people buy cheap logs from a little sideline business, only to discover that the logs don’t burn, turn black, and create plumes of smoke – which is harmful when inhaled.
When it comes to firewood and wood burning, buying cheap really does mean paying twice. Burning wood with a moisture content below 20% is scientifically proven to generate more heat, use less fuel, and reduce carbon emissions.
The only way you can be sure the logs you burn are ready for immediate use and will reduce the environmental impact is to buy Woodsure Ready To Burn certified logs.
The Ready To Burn scheme was launched to professionalise the UK firewood supply industry and to help stove owners and open fire users burn logs that are cleaner, more efficient, and lower environmental impact. From May 2021 in England, logs sold under 2m3 must be labeled as Ready To Burn by law to help the drive towards reducing emissions and improving public health.
A stove is only is as good as the wood you put in it, so the Ready to Burn stamp of approval is the best way of knowing the logs are dry enough for burning efficiently, safely, ethically, and responsibly.
2) Find Ready To Burn kiln dried logs for sale near me
You can lower the carbon footprint of your firewood delivery, and reduce the distance your logs need to travel, by sourcing your logs from a Ready To Burn certified log supplier local to you.
We deliver our locally sourced kiln-dried logs across Shropshire, North Wales, Cheshire, and Merseyside, but if you don’t live in our delivery area, you can find a Ready To Burn approved supplier near you.
- Ready To Burn kiln dried logs near me in Shropshire, North Wales, Cheshire, and Merseyside
- Find a Ready To Burn approved supplier
3) Service your chimney or flue at least once a year
Between April 2019 and March 2020, as many as 3130 homes in England fell victim to chimney fires as a result of flammable creosote and tar build-up. The majority of chimney fires are completely avoidable. If you commit to sweeping your chimney or flue at least annually, and only use Ready To Burn certified kiln dried logs with a moisture content below 20%, you will significantly reduce the risk of a chimney fire, and ultimately, reduce the environmental impact of your fires.
4) Service your stove annually
Committing to service your appliance once a year by an approved stove maintenance engineer will maximise its performance and efficiency so you get more heat, use less fuel, and emit fewer emissions.
The latest Ecodesign Ready stoves are the most efficient wood-burning appliances on the market. They can offer a 90% reduction in harmful particulate emissions compared to open fires – and a further 80-94% compared to an old stove.
5) Avoid burning waste wood and household rubbish
Research published by Woodsure found that 19% of 2,000 people surveyed with open fires or stoves, confessed to burning waste wood such as pallets and treated timber, to generate heat. This practice is highly polluting and risks damaging health. This is because there is no way of telling what chemicals pallets have been exposed to in their life in supply chains.
Casting the odd crisp packet or old newspaper onto the fire may seem harmless – but it’s actually very damaging and highly polluting. Burning household rubbish can emit toxic pollutants, such as arsenic, into the atmosphere – and into your home when it’s burned.
It makes for pretty scary reading, so if you’re in the habit of putting household rubbish or waste wood on the fire, please stop for your sake and for everyone else’s.
6) Be patient when building your log fire
Even when using kiln-dried logs with a moisture content below 20%, your log fire is still highly likely to smolder if it has been loaded with too much wood too quickly. When a fire is overloaded with wood fuel there simply won’t be enough energy for all the wood to successfully combust.
So, be patient when building your log fire up and allow your logs to sufficiently combust, and make sure there’s plenty of energy in the fire before adding more logs.
7) Only light a fire when you need to
If you love your wood burner as much as we do, it’s easy to admit we log fire lovers don’t need much of a reason to fire up our stoves. After all, sitting by a log fire evokes feelings of joy and relaxation. It’s a treat!
Truth is, we can all reduce our environmental impact by lighting our log fires only when we need to – not just when we fancy it. Even though burning Ready To Burn kiln dried logs has far less effect on the environment than gas, oil, and coal, it’s still good practice to burn logs on demand rather than for the sake of it.
8) Choose logs that are dried using renewable energy
It’s little talked about really, but if your logs have been dried using renewable heat such as from biogas generators, you know that the surplus heat has been used as part of the log drying process.
9) Reduce, reuse, or recycle your firewood packaging
Unless you have logs tipped on your drive – which isn’t everyone’s cup of tea because of all the mess it creates – your logs will be delivered in packaging of some sort. Cardboard packaging can be recycled through most household recycling schemes – but the cost of buying logs in cardboard packaging is very costly.
If you buy logs in builders’ bags, ask your log supplier if they can take them back after you’ve emptied them. We have a scheme in place which allows our customers to hand their empty bags back to us on their next log delivery so they can be reused again and again! Our nets can be recycled too! Just hand them back on your next log order so our nets supplier can recycle them!
10) Know the best logs to burn – and when!
Here’s the thing – wood isn’t just wood! To get the most mileage out of your log fire whilst minimising its environmental effects, follow these simple steps:
- Grab a handful of dried kindling and place it inside your open fire or wood-burning appliance.
- Get 1-2 natural wood wool firelighters, nestle between your kindling, and light.
- Wait for the smoke to start rising up the chimney – as that’s a sign there’s sufficient draw from your flue.
- Once there’s enough energy in the kindling, build the fire up slowly using Ready To Burn Kiln-Dried Softwood Logs and continue to build your fire up. Doing this will raise the temperature of your appliance and chimney.
- When your fire is roaring away but starting to settle down, use Ready To Burn Kiln-Dried Hardwood Logs to sustain the burn. The best kiln-dried hardwood logs are Ash, in our opinion, as they combust more easily, offer high heat, with a long and efficient burn.
A fire is only as kind to the environment as the fuel you use to light it with
An appliance is only ever as good as the wood you put in it. And a log fire is only as clean, safe, and environmentally friendly as the fuel you use to light it with.
Wood is a renewable energy source, but burning it is only eco-efficient if the moisture content is sub 20%, it’s locally and sustainably sourced, and we commit to regular cleaning and maintaining our wood-burning appliances and flues.
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