Indoor wood burning stoves were standard in early Colonial homes and are still used today, even just to supplement more efficient central HVAC or ductless systems. While seemingly charming and storybook-esque, keeping warm with a wood stove can come at a high cost.
Below, we explore why indoor wood burning stoves aren’t eco-friendly and look into more sustainable and effective heating alternatives for your New England home.
While combusting wood is an effective way to generate heat quickly, heating your home consistently with a wood stove contributes to outdoor air pollution. This occurs when pollutants like nitrogen oxides and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are released as smoke into the air, which can react with sunlight to create ground-level ozone or “smog.”
According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), elevated ground-level ozone can negatively impact local ecosystems, especially where vegetation and foliage is sensitive to pollution and during the growing season.
The demand for firewood in the winter puts immense pressure on local and national forests, contributing to deforestation and destroying animal habitats.
Most of the time, commercially-available wood for heating isn’t sourced sustainably and comes from places already at risk of deforestation. The cycle of cutting trees down every year, often without enough new trees being planted in their place, degrades the environment and exacerbates the consequences of climate change.
Wood stoves also lack the ability to efficiently distribute heat throughout your home, causing some rooms to become too cold and others too hot. This often results in the need to burn more wood to get heat to reach rooms furthest from the stove, wasting energy resources.
Plus, families that use supplemental heat in addition to their wood stove to compensate for uneven warmth end up leaving an even bigger carbon footprint beyond just the pollution wood heating causes.
Indoor wood stoves generate particulate matter when the wood burns that gets into your home. This can worsen existing health problems and even create new ones, including asthma and other dangerous respiratory conditions.
Wood stoves also emit carbon monoxide, which is a highly toxic gas that can be difficult to detect and requires a special alarm. Breathing in carbon monoxide, even in small amounts, can cause serious and debilitating symptoms like headaches, brain fog, dizziness, and death.
Another consideration to make is how difficult wood stoves are to keep clean. Not only can the particulates emitted by the burning wood cause health problems, they make your home look “dirty,” especially the closer you get to the stove.
When you use a wood stove on a regular basis, you need to have your chimney professionally cleaned to avoid the accumulation of a harmful substance called creosote. Creosote forms from incomplete combustion, which is a natural byproduct of burning organic matter.
This substance is an amalgamation of soot, tar, and other deposits that are at an extreme risk of fire. In fact, the National Fire Protection Association reports that chimney fires were responsible for 30% of house fires in the U.S. from 2014 to 2018, making mitigation critical.
Even though a cozy fire might be nice on snowy nights, switching to a more sustainable form of heating is a good idea if you’re concerned about the environmental and health effects of using a wood stove.
Electric heat resolves some of the biggest issues that wood stoves present, like poor indoor air quality and deforestation. Central HVAC, electric space heaters, and baseboard heating don’t emit ash into the air or require trees to be cut down for them to operate.
For homeowners looking for the most eco-friendly home heating option, ductless mini-splits emerge as the clear winner. These systems move heat instead of generating it, using minimal electricity compared to traditional methods.
Here are just some of the benefits that going ductless offers:
- No more heat loss
- Reduced harmful emissions
- Lower energy bills
- Fewer repairs
- Zoned heating technology
- Advanced air filtration and humidity control
- Compatibility with other energy sources
- Tax incentives and rebates
Make the Switch to Ductless with N.E.T.R., Inc.
At N.E.T.R., Inc., we know heating. Our team of Mitsubishi Electric Elite Diamond contractors can help you find options that work for your home and family. Contact us today at (781) 933-6387 to learn more or to schedule a time for us to come to your home to talk about switching to ductless heating.