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A wood fireplace or stove may seem like a cozy and quaint feature in your Berryville, Virginia, home, but these heating methods are both inefficient and hazardous to your health. It’s important to understand what wood smoke does to your indoor air quality before you choose to rely on this heating method.

Pollutants in Wood Smoke

Wood smoke has a rustic and romantic feel, but it’s actually as harmful as tobacco smoke in many ways. It contains carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, benzene, dioxin, and formaldehyde. With both fine and ultrafine particles, wood smoke can easily infiltrate the lungs. Fine particle levels are 26 percent higher in homes with wood-burning heat. Nearby homes suffer, too, as 70 percent of chimney smoke re-enters other houses.

More Efficient Options

Moving away from wood-burning stoves and fireplaces is the cleanest answer, but there are also more efficient ways to burn wood. A fireplace insert set inside the existing fireplace can increase efficiency up to 70 percent. EPA-certified models increase efficiency even further.

A traditional fireplace’s fine particle emissions are upward of 28 lbs/MMBtus. An uncertified wood stove reduces these to 4.6 and an EPA-certified stove gets that number down to 1.4. A pellet stove emits just 0.49 lbs/MMBtus, an oil furnace emits 0.013 lbs/MMBtus, and a gas furnace emits just 0.0083 lbs/MMBtus.

Burning Wood Properly

Cool fires emit more soot and smoke than hot ones. When you’re burning wood, keep it as hot as possible to reduce emissions. Never burn trash, treated lumber, or other items. Only burn clean, dry wood. Open your damper before you open a wood-burning stove to reduce smoke levels in the home. When possible, try to burn wood only when the wind will carry smoke away from other buildings. This will minimize the impact on your neighbors’ homes.

If you’re interested in exploring cleaner methods of heating your home, contact Griffith Energy Services at 888-474-3391. We can help you find the ideal furnace for your situation.

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