Wood burners under attack again

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  • Wood burners under attack again
  • fossy
    Member

    PS, we are in modern houses that are fully centrally heated, no real reason for a log burner as none of us have chimneys/fire places and the house isn’t designed so that you’d get the benefit from a stove and it’s heat, other than to ‘look nice’.

    footflaps
    Member

    Then buy stoves made where the standards and compliance schemes are far stricter. Consumers need to stop being lazy and source the good stuff, not the minimum.

    To meet the same pm2.5 emissions as gas central heating you’d need a £500 wood burner and then £5k worth of catalytic converter and filters on the chimney which would require several £100 of maintenance each year changing out filters…

    Burning solid fuel at low temps (compared to commercial power stations) with no filters is never going to be clean….

    and you’d probably need an electric fan to get enough draw through the filters….

    Na, interest in diesels dropped off because folks thought they were gonna get taxed out the game, most don’t give a **** about the environment.

    Exactly that. I’ve been pointing out the wood stove hypocrisy on here for years and get nothing but pelters. If it’s a fashion item then it’s not needed, end of. But that doesn’t tie in with the middle class STW image.

    (I fully accept that there are those amongst us that live outside built up areas and have no better alternative. And that’s fine as it’s a sustainable energy source so long as its part of an overall energy MIX)

    Bunnyhop
    Member

    We replaced our open fire with a wood burning stove 10 years ago. As we’re in a smokeless zone the stove had to comply with the rules and we only burn well seasoned wood.
    However our neighbour just put in any old stove and it stinks the road out. Other neighbours have complained about them.
    The other problem we have is living very near two canals. With narrow boats burning wet wood and polluting the local area. You can see the smoke over the local area. But I can’t see anything being done about that problem.

    Exactly that. I’ve been pointing out the wood stove hypocrisy on here for years and get nothing but pelters. If it’s a fashion item then it’s not needed, end of. But that doesn’t tie in with the middle class STW image.

    Oi, I’m working class me! 🙂

    I have one, I like it, but if it came down to it and we had an actual workable plan to cut emissions that also targeted the likes of the more-cars-than-people households, I’d gladly get rid. I’ll probably get rid before that tbh, as I canny see me wanting to chop wood into my dotage.

    Just because something is difficult to enforce it doesn’t necessarily mean it shouldn’t be covered by law. The climate change targets can only be met by people changing, it cannot be imposed on by governments…sure they can do something around changing energy mix, but that takes time and not something that can be done quickly…..there is a lot more impact people can actually do by not using their cars as much, Turning in their CH thermostats down a couple of degrees and put a jumper on, take showers instead of baths, not use a log burner….these measures will make a far greater impact on the environment and change the market and demand profile which will then lead to other bigger infrastructure changes.

    So a bit of education from the government is a worthwhile thing, and from the sounds of it is needed, if it does raise awareness and cause some people to change their minds and their ways. It was news to me that log burners contributed so much to pollution…makes complete sense really, especially considering that when I look around at houses on the modern housing estate where I live and the number of homes that have log burners which are nothing more than just a fashion accessory, and totally unnecessary. Don’t go blaming the government and others for inactivity if first you haven’t done all you can personally to minimise your impact on the environment. Too many people whinging and moaning expecting others to do things at minimal effort and inconvenience to themselves.

    sideshow
    Member

    Surely the cleanest, most ecological and likely the cheapest kind of heating is all electric electric ground source heat pump on a green tariff?

    If you haven’t heard of heat pumps they can be 4x more efficient than electric. Also can be funded by RHI at present. But they are slow to warm up and there are problems with impacts of the coolant gas escaping

    ianpv
    Member

    We had one installed before we realised what a polluting mess they are (I guess we were suckered into the defra approved stuff). Looking to get rid now…

    Premier Icon dmorts
    Subscriber

    Edinburgh is a smoke free zone but wood burners are allowed under permitted development (i.e. planning permission is not needed). On first impression this seems like quite a contradiction, until you discover that “smoke free” means free of smoke that you can see. So small particulates (the most dangerous) slip through under the current local legislation.

    If the Government is serious about this, it needs to be national policy (pollution doesn’t just hang around where it was created) and installing a solid fuel burner should be the exception (especially in a city) after all other solutions are exhausted. The Government needs to help people to install and use alternatives. It has to be two-fold, it’s not fair to ban one thing to try to force people onto something else without making the alternatives accessible.

    Premier Icon dissonance
    Subscriber

    The other problem we have is living very near two canals. With narrow boats burning wet wood and polluting the local area. You can see the smoke over the local area.

    I go kayaking at lee valley. The canal runs nearby and the fumes can be actively unpleasant depending on the air direction. Cant be healthy for anyone.

    Premier Icon bedmaker
    Subscriber

    The whole DEFRA approved stove thing is a nonsense. Making a stove burn uncontrollably is not the answer.
    Education is the answer, but it’s not easy. Putting a bolt in to stop the air slider closing is much easier…

    Looking at this PM2.5 graphic, I suspect transport pollution in the SE may be a slightly bigger issue than burning wood.
    That said, I’d happily see burners banned if the property also has access to town gas.

    Can’t we just burn the witches or something. Oh wait ahhh ohhhh bad for the enviros. Summery execution ok, bullet to the back of head?

    These and the **** Diesel terrorists!

    access to town gas

    Not since the 1970’s I’m afraid 😉

    Edukator
    Member

    The Government needs to help people to install and use alternatives.

    The government needs to force people to insulate a property before they can rent it out or sell it (or before it changes hands upon inheritance). Not up to the required stanard you can continue to rent to sitting tennants but the rent is reduced by 10% per year until you meet requirements.

    timber
    Member

    Been a lot of talk in the wood industry about the certification of dry wood, lots of potential failings, not least customer storage and that it would favour RHI harvesting business models where the firewood is a waste product of claiming your grant, lucrative, but a waste of material and government funds when you can air dry to the same atmospheric levels unless there is a requirement for people to keep their woodfuel in kilns.
    Ultimately it would most likely be a self assessed, paper exercise, with a high subscription fee to fund some office bods in return for a sticker to put on your truck.

    Premier Icon dmorts
    Subscriber

    Looking at this PM2.5 graphic, I suspect transport pollution in the SE may be a slightly bigger issue than burning wood.

    And you’d likely be wrong. See my earlier post

    Household solid fuel burning is top of the PM2.5 polluting list. I hope this is at least partly why the regulation has come about

    According to government figures, wood, coal and solid fuel fires in the home generate 40% of total PM2.5 – the smallest and most dangerous particulate. This is more than double the PM2.5 emissions from industrial combustion (16%) and more than three times as much as from road transport (12%).

    https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/oct/11/people-burning-wet-wood-on-inefficient-stoves-poisoning-themselves

    sharkbait
    Member

    According to government figures, wood, coal and solid fuel fires in the home generate 40% of total PM2.5 – the smallest and most dangerous particulate.

    If that’s the case then there should be a big drop in PM2.5 for 5 or 6 months of the year when this type of heating is not being used.

    core
    Member

    The DEFRA approved stoves are nothing fancy, you just can’t shut them right down, they draw some air permanently.

    Most of the problem is with behaviour. Burning wet wood and crap, shutting stoves down overnight, not burning them hot enough, and people having them in perfectly well insulated and heated homes as a ‘focal point’. They should just not be allowed in towns and cities, and I’d extend that to many villages.

    Trying to control the sale of wet wood is ludicrous, totally impractical both from technical and resourcing perspectives.

    Rural people are again those who could be hit worst by new legislation, those who have no choice but to have expensive LPG or oil heating systems/boilers, who live remotely, aren’t pissing anyone off with their fumes, have their own source of decent wood, and who rely on wood burners to save money/not burn fossil fuels. EDIT – And who know how to use a wood burner properly.

    Same as diesel vehicles, we out here in the sticks live up hills, down tracks, tow trailers etc etc, and are penalised for doing so. The wood burners issue is just the same, we NEED these things, but the thing that’s killing them off is people having them as lifestyle choices.

    It’s as if all these things should just be accepted by rural communities as some sort of tax for living in a nice place, when they’re really intended to rid towns of unnecessary luxuries that are killing people.

    sharkbait
    Member

    ^ Well put.

    As long as you don’t class living rurally as a lifestyle choice, eh?.

    Premier Icon cookeaa
    Subscriber

    Hmmm,

    Our new house has an open fireplace (unused by the previous owners, I was going to try and find a grate, have the chimney cleaned and see about using it again.

    But if open fireplaces are on the shit-list maybe I’ll just avoid it now…

    it’s a shame, we’ve plenty of cut wood to use, and a wood store for drying it in, I suppose the difference is it just ends up going in a fire bowl/BBQ in summer now, So I’ll still be a net poluter no doubt…

    I guess traffic pollutes most in the morning and evening when people are out an about breathing it all in.

    I guess Wood Burners pollute most in winter evenings when it’s dark and fewer people are out and about.

    I’d imagine people who are using wood burners most are the ones using them purely for heating and therefore they’re burned hot and for longish periods of time – I’d guess that’s the least inefficient way to use them.

    So I wonder if Wood Burners contribution to harmful pollution is actually less than the figures per KW suggest – maybe someone who knows can confirm or debunk those musings.

    One thing’s for sure, if I go for a run on a winters evening there’s enough smoke around that I can smell it. That wasn’t the case 5 years ago. All my immediate neighbours now have wood burners, including me. 5 years ago I was the only one. Also my wood is very well seasoned (by me) and I burn my stove hot with plenty of air. I can still smell it in the garden when it’s newly lit which makes me think it’s not *that* efficient – if I can smell it, the particles are going in the lungs of people walking past. (Nice smell though!)

    Yeah but you can just go out and buy a hybrid van, that’s only just come out this year for 25-30k. After being taxed, typically, at least 4x more than everyone else for the last 5, might be 7 or 8 years.

    Member millionaire celebrities said so, Harrods are buying them! Newspapers reprinted the shiny sales brochures, with pictures of MP’s and motor industry execs, all beaming smiles and high fiving each other.

    Get them scruffy old cars off the road! Swampy’s best mate when it suits.

    sideshow
    Member

    fashion … no real reason … other than to ‘look nice’

    I wouldn’t call something people have been doing since the dawn of civilisation a fashion. There’s something about sitting around flames that’s more than just being warm and looking nice.

    I’m asthmatic and I hate campfires, but our (defra approved) wood burner (burning dry wood) is pretty lush today in wet (countryside) weather

    It’s as if all these things should just be accepted by rural communities as some sort of tax for living in a nice place, when they’re really intended to rid towns of unnecessary luxuries that are killing people.

    Well, living in a city tower block is far better for the environment than a nice barn conversion in the Cotswolds.

    Premier Icon siwhite
    Subscriber

    To me, this smacks of picking an easy target to demonstrate compliance with reducing emissions.

    Granted, if you are on mains gas there is no real NEED for a woodburning stove, other than for aesthetic or preferential reasons. Quite different for those in the sticks.

    We use oil central heating as we live some distance from the supply, supported by three DEFRA compliant woodburners. All wood is coppiced locally, split and dried on site so minimal carbon emissions pre-burning. Wood probably reduces our oil consumption by 50% – running the stoves hot and fast puts out minimal particulate emissions – unlike our neighbours, whose RHI-funded biomass boiler smokes terribly for up to an hour before it reaches temperature.

    I won’t be stopping any time soon!

    It could be argued that no one at all really needs to burn wood, even those that choose to live away from a gas supply.

    Oil and electric heating, ground source etc is available to pretty much everyone, no matter where you are, but it would seem that the middle class eco ire is reserved only for those that actually live in towns, funny that. 😊

    Edukator
    Member

    I knew people poor enough to go cold or burn free wood.

    Edit: and there was a time I was so poor that I either burned wood or went cold – I usually went cold but lit up when I needed a bath.

    core
    Member

    Nobeerinthefridge
    As long as you don’t class living rurally as a lifestyle choice, eh?.

    Not for everyone, no. Many people are born and raised in the country and it is intrinsic to their being to live in a rural area, I for one could not cope living in a town, I’d go mad in weeks. Some people are ‘of a place’ and understand the implications of living there, for instance how to use a wood burner properly and what to burn. Some of those people have nice lifestyles and cosy homes, sure, that get photographed and put in country living, but they’re just living the life their families have for generations.

    Wealthy people can buy country living, buy the rural pad (push up house prices) and emulate that lifestyle, inviting their friends around to show off. There’s a difference.

    I’d imagine people who are using wood burners most are the ones using them purely for heating and therefore they’re burned hot and for longish periods of time – I’d guess that’s the least inefficient way to use them.

    Burning them hot is the most efficient way to use them, the cleanest, and the least likely to kill you (carbon monoxide).

    Talking to a friend this morning, he’d been discussing with someone else how the government are still offering RHI on biomass systems, on a large scale, to meet C02 targets, all while another department is considering legislating against the same thing essentially………. People probably don’t realise that many of our ‘factory farmed’ poultry houses are now run on biomass, with imported timber/wood chip, and ‘farmers’ are being paid to heat their own sheds, that they already make BIG profits on. Now that is a scandal and totally wrong. They’re also belching out FAR, FAR more than domestic wood burners.

    Well, living in a city tower block is far better for the environment than a nice barn conversion in the Cotswolds.

    That demonstrates my point nicely, we’re not all aspirational/wealthy types in a “nice barn conversion in the Cotswolds” a lot of us are in cold old centuries old houses in the arse end of nowhere, a long way from motorways, with bugger all in the way of infrastructure, crap broadband, low wages and high house prices.

    On heating – electric: generally very expensive (and where’s the electric coming from?), ground source: horrendously expensive installation cost, requires a lot of ground, and really best suited to UFH, which again is prohibitively expensive as a retro-fit to most people. Air source: reasonable on install cost, but people are seeing high electric bills and needs to be supplemented by immersion regularly, plus also best suited to UFH due to low temps. If you haven’t got mains gas that leaves LPG or Oil. The worst in terms of C02 and probably cost, and coincidentally the worst in SAP terms when building new homes. On that note, many new homes are having to have ASHP or GSHP to meet their SAP targets, but they don’t actually heat the house enough, so people fit wood burners………..

    Ultimately, homes with mains gas are the best in C02 and SAP terms, and have very efficient boilers these days. Semi detached and terrace houses lose less heat anyway, new builds are concentrated in urban areas with mains gas supply also, so there shouldn’t be any NEED to supplement heating with solid fuel fires. Urban areas are where most of the problems with smoke/particulates are evident and health issues are most prevalent, the same areas that shouldn’t need solid fuel fires. I’m just saying, look there first.

    least inefficient

    Burning them hot is the most efficient way to use them, the cleanest, and the least likely to kill you (carbon monoxide).

    Yup, but I chose to use the term “least inefficient” with is just a different way of saying “most efficient”.

    core
    Member

    Didn’t spot the double negative, my bad.

    So basically, if you live in the country, and always have done, you’re alright, but all these new money folk are not. If you live in the country, and you’re ‘of a place’ then you know how to burn wood properly, your particulates are not as bad as those bloody townies. If you live in the country, and the alternatives are more expensive, than that’s alright too, blame it on battery chicken farms. It’s also okay to run big diesel cars, cos, well, you’re in the country aren’t you, and you’d turn into a psycho if you lived in town.

    🙂

    Didn’t spot the double negative, my bad.

    Your mistake was unforgivable, but I have to take at least half the blame for putting it that way.

    As long as you don’t class living rurally as a lifestyle choice, eh?.

    @Nobeerinthefridge, by that logic all of us British residents choose to live somewhere with a climate that requires heating in the winter. We could equally live somewhere that required no winter heating, and no summer aircon.

    core
    Member

    So basically, if you live in the country, and always have done, you’re alright, but all these new money folk are not. If you live in the country, and you’re ‘of a place’ then you know how to burn wood properly, your particulates are not as bad as those bloody townies. If you live in the country, and the alternatives are more expensive, than that’s alright too, blame it on battery chicken farms. It’s also okay to run big diesel cars, cos, well, you’re in the country aren’t you, and you’d turn into a psycho if you lived in town.

    No, not at all, the point I’m trying to make is that it’s not all just about aspirational lifestyle choices, and that solid fuel (and big diesel vehicles) do make sense in some cases. However it is these very people who are often hit hardest by the introduction of blanket legislation. Rural areas of the UK are among the poorest and most deprived, we’re not all in 6 bed barn conversions with a fleet of Land Rovers.

    I need to read up on how the particulates disperse/gather and where they are concentrated in relation to emission, but it seems basic logic that the higher the density of solid fuel appliances, in a highly populated area, the more issues you are likely to have. So I’m suggesting that these are tackled first. These would also seem, logically to be the areas that have the least need for solid fuel heating.

    The point about broiler units (did not mention battery farming) is that neither is the fuel C02 efficient as it is in many cases imported and transported hundreds or thousands of miles before it’s used (or uses excessive amounts of energy in its drying) but that they are emitting huge amounts of particulates, whilst being paid to do so! As an example, even a domestic wood burning boiler for a large house can return well over £5000 a year in payments.

    Turns out it was all based on pretty dubious numbers. Government took a worst case scenario assuming every wood burner was older and less efficient and the average use was 40 hours a week. (My wood burner is the sole heating for 60pc of the downstairs area of the house and we don’t use it 40 hours a week, I’d have thought people who just have it on as a treat from time to time will be a lot less.)

    More or Less cover it here:
    https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/m0002cn1

    Having said all that, I still think that if I can smell smoke outside that suggests there’s pollution going on so it would be nice to get some accurate idea of how bad the problem is.

    Premier Icon dmorts
    Subscriber

    Turns out it was all based on pretty dubious numbers

    Can you clarify what ‘all’ is please?

    Will try and give that More or Less a listen, but would be helpful if you could clarify things in the meantime.

    Can you clarify what ‘all’ is please?

    Sorry I should have been clearer:

    All = “the news story in the OP + the information informing the policy described in that story.”

    Will try and give that More or Less a listen

    Yup, there is no substitute for hearing it first hand.

    Premier Icon dangeourbrain
    Subscriber

    Turns out it was all based on pretty dubious numbers.

    though given the main conclusion of that (at least that i took away) was that the numbers are all pretty much an educated guess as the exact phrasing of the stat makes more difference than how it’s arrived at, I’m not sure you should put too much faith into how dubious those numbers were.

    Even the measured numbers <10% in cities iirc were of overall pm2.5, so the UK source would likely be double that given (based on the figures cited in the program) roughly 50% of the pm2.5 isn’t domestic. Given that’s what the Gov’t was putting the 38% against it still makes them significantly worse than traffic at 12%.

    Premier Icon dmorts
    Subscriber

    I’ve had a quick listen. Seems the Government could have been overly conservative, but More or Less didn’t (or couldn’t) conclude that fully (yet).

    The expert Dr (Gary) Fuller could have helped by put the wood burning pollution in perspective but for some reason didn’t (or it was edited out). He has measured data for ALL particles in the air. By testing the samples he can determine their source and the ratio of this in ALL particles. Wood burning contributed less than 10% of ALL particles*. He could have also given us the measured data of what car emissions make to ALL of the particles, but didn’t….. that would have really helped put this in perspective. Is that greater than 10%, less than 10%? Quite an annoying omission by the programme.

    *remember the 38% is an estimate as to emissions the UK makes into the air, but only half of the particles in UK air come from UK

    I’ve had a quick listen. Seems the Government could have been overly conservative, but More or Less didn’t (or couldn’t) conclude that fully (yet).

    The expert Dr (Gary) Fuller could have helped by put the wood burning pollution in perspective but for some reason didn’t (or it was edited out). He has measured data for ALL particles in the air. By testing the samples he can determine their source and the ratio of this in ALL particles. Wood burning contributed less than 10% of ALL particles*. He could have also given us the measured data of what car emissions make to ALL of the particles, but didn’t….. that would have really helped put this in perspective. Is that greater than 10%, less than 10%? Quite an annoying omission by the programme.

    *remember the 38% is an estimate as to emissions the UK makes into the air, but only half of the particles in UK air come from UK

    Yup, that pretty much matches my recollection. The other omission that I found mildly frustrating was that they didn’t investigate the idea that woodburner pollution is created largely at night in winter when people aren’t out and about outside. Does that make it less harmful or does this stuff float around in the air for years while kids breath it in? Either way I thought it was a good show – they can’t cover everything. More or less rocks IMHO.

    @dangeourbrain it seemed to me they were saying the assumptions were a bit dubious. I don’t think they were arguing that the conclusion that burning wood in homes causes pollution was dubious.

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