Carbon is an essential part of life on earth. Plants and trees absorb carbon from the atmosphere and release it back into the air when they die. This cycle is one of the most important in nature.
How this relates to burning wood is simple. When a tree dies, it releases all the carbon it absorbed as it grew. Whether the tree naturally decomposes on the forest floor or is burned for firewood, the same amount of carbon is released back into the air. Burning wood to heat your home is considered to be carbon- neutral.
When fossil fuels like oil, gas and coal are used to heat your home old carbon that has been stored deep inside the earth for millions of years is released into the atmosphere. Many scientists believe that the burning of fossil fuels may be a cause of global warming.
One concern with heating with fireplaces and wood stoves is the smoke particles released into the air during combustion. These particles are thought to cause some health problems like asthma. Old wood stoves from the 70s and 80s produced around 30 to 50 grams per hour of particles. Today’s EPA certified wood stoves and fireplace inserts only produce 2 to 7 grams and hour! Emissions may not be of a concern to us living in rural areas like the north Georgia Mountains but more urban areas like Atlanta and Greenville may soon pass laws prohibiting old inefficient stoves and fireplaces.
To put it simply, heating your home with wood is one of the cleanest forms of energy. Firewood is also cheaper, more abundant and more reliable than any other heating alternative we currently have and most likely will be for a long time.
Today’s newer wood stoves and inserts are nearly 80% efficient! They produce much more heat with less wood than ever before and are beautiful additions to any home. If you are considering upgrading your old inefficient fireplace or wood stove, now is a great time. Or, if you just want to become energy independent from the gas/electric companies (and their rising prices) now is the time to act! The federal government is offering a tax incentive right now for those who purchase an EPA certified wood stove or fireplace. More information on the tax credit can be found at www.hearthstoveandpatio.com