Friday, May 27, 2011

Wood stove

My family heated with wood growing up in our house. The first thing my dad did upon moving into the house was to have a chimney built and hook a Fisher stove to it. I spent many days out with him cutting firewood. I loved it. Sure I didn't like the hard work when I was younger, but I loved being outside, playing with my hatchet, shooting my sling shot, drinking pop and eating chips.We would drive around listening to oldies music, talking, looking for some wood to cut. It was awesome.

My first house had a wood furnace. It was great. The house had minimal insulation and single pane windows. Its heat loss was huge. That wood furnace would keep us warm all winter. I loved getting up every morning and filling it with wood to get the place warmed up. My next place was baseboard heat, and the current house also heats with electric baseboard. The worst kind of heat. It only took me a few months of living here alone that I put in a wood stove. It was the best thing I could have done. My hydro bills have gone down about $20 a month average, I am warmer, the house is cozier, it smells better, there is less condensation in the windows and I am not contributing green house gases.

Burning wood doesn't increase the amount of green house gases in the atmosphere. Burning coal, oil and natural gas release carbon that has been stored in the planet for millions of years, and adding it at such an accelerated rate that the planet can't keep up by re-capturing it and storing it again. Burning wood is only adding carbon that has only been stored for a relatively short period of time, and that carbon will be absorbed by new trees that are growing in place of the ones that being burned. It is a recycling of sorts. When the waste wood from forestry is burned in a modern wood burning appliance, it is used most efficiently. The smoke is "re-burned" reducing particulates in the flue gases. Burning it dry is a must to reduce these harmful, polluting particles. My stove, even on the coldest nights, has a slight whisper of smoke coming out of the chimney. That makes me happy. If you have ever seen a bee-hive burn that the forest companies use to dispose of waste wood, you would be appalled. The nasty, thick, smelly smoke that comes from these fires is terrible, plus the heat is just wasted. It could be used to create electricity or heat homes. Whole neighborhoods could be heated by wood waste plants, like Dockside Green in Victoria. This is the forward thinking that we need, especially in a province with as much wood available as we have. At a bare minimum all forestry companies should include in their harvesting plans how they will clean up the site and make the waste usable for using the wood waste to create energy, rather than having wasteful fires.

I would like to see BC getting away from using natural gas as a fuel for heating and energy generation and get back to the oldest fuel we have, wood.

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