What’s it *really* like living with an open fire?
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For day 24 of our carbon fast we’re asked to look at the impact of using an open fire to heat our homes.
The advice reads “Consider the carbon impact of having a fire in your fireplace. Think about adding a fireplace fan, insert, or high-efficiency wood or pellet stove. The EPA compared emissions from real logs and five brand name artificial logs and found that fake logs had 75 percent less emissions than real wood. They also warm your house more efficiently since they burn longer and hotter. “
Well I’m not sure about all of that! I mean, how many people can simply install a high-efficiency wood or pellet stove? Most of my friends live in modern town houses without any provision for an open fire.
Consider too the idea that “fake logs had 75 percent less emissions than real wood”. Huhn? What is a ‘fake log’ when it’s at home? I don’t know what a fake log is, or what it is made from, but I fail to see how, even if it does have 75% less emissions than real wood, it can be more environmentally friendly. Anything with the word ‘fake’ in it usually involves the use of petroleum or energy-intensive manufacturing somewhere along the line…
While I LOVE our wood burner and wouldn’t swap it for the world, it’s not always the romantic idea many people think it is. Sure if you’re using one just for pretty effect in the evening and you have other means of heating your home then they are wonderful (and romantic!). But, if like us, you only have a woodburner to heat your home and water, it’s a hungry beast that needs feeding – regularly. And everything in the house is permanently covered in a layer of fine soot.
Think of a wood burner like a baby; regular feeding and cleaning out its other end are required for happines and health… Also, unless you have an on-going supply of good quality wood, running a wood burner is NOT the cheap option. Around here we pay £80 per tonne of wood and it will last us about 3 weeks during the depths of winter.
Fortunately there are enough farmers nearby who do not have time to clear their orchards, so we often get free wood in exchange for ‘tidying’ someone’s land.
We’ve recently installed a more ‘energy efficient’ wood burner and just had our first season with it. It’s taken some getting used to, but we’ve been warm this winter with outdoor temperatures plummeting to -15 and yes, everything is covered in a layer of fine soot. But would I swap it for any other form of heating? Absolutely not!
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