Wood heating:

a source of pollution in winter

wood heating and air pollution

Air pollution is a major environmental problem in cities, and fine particles are one of the main causes of this pollution. These particles can be produced by a variety of sources, including vehicles, factories, and furnaces. One of the biggest culprits of fine particle pollution is wood burning

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Heating with wood to limit global warming: an ecological and economical solution
Wood heating: main source of particulate matter pollution in winter
Heating with wood without polluting is possible!

Heating with wood to limit global warming: an ecological and economical solution 

Global warming is a worldwide problem that affects us all. Greenhouse gas emissions are the main cause of this phenomenon. One of the solutions to reduce these emissions is to turn to renewable and cleaner energy sources. Heating with wood is one of them and is a source of heat with many advantages:

🌍 Heating with wood is good for the planet

The combustion of wood is a low emitter of carbon dioxide (CO2), a greenhouse gas (GHG).

It emits :

  • 11 times less than fuel oil
  • 5 times less than gas
  • 4 times less than electricity

By using wood logs or pellets, you reduce your carbon footprint!

🌱 Wood is a renewable and environmentally friendly resource

Wood is a renewable resource because trees can be replanted and regenerated. Furthermore, burning wood for heating does not contribute to the accumulation of CO2 in the atmosphere, as the CO2 emissions generated are equivalent to the amount of CO2 absorbed by the trees during their growth. In addition, wood is a local source of energy, which can be obtained from local resources, thus reducing dependence on imported fossil fuels.

Heating with wood is an economical way

It is a cost competitive energy source. Indeed, the cost of electricity and gas is constantly increasing while wood prices are relatively stable and often cheaper. Heating with wood is an affordable alternative that is accessible to everyone. It can be used in fireplaces, chimneys, wood stoves, and even boilers.

💡 Good to know :

When we talk about wood heating, we include heaters that use 4 types of fuel from the wood industry:

  • Logs, which remain the most widely used fuel
  • Pellets, most often made from by-products of the wood industry, and which are the most efficient for combustion
  • Reconstituted logs, made from by-products of the wood industry;
  • Wood chips, made from wood industry or forestry products

Wood heating: main source of fine particle pollution in winter

In winter, wood burning can be a major source of particulate matter pollution. The dust and soot particles are small enough to penetrate the lungs and cause health problems: cardiovascular diseases, respiratory diseases, cancer…

Indeed, the combustion of wood during heating produces heat, gases and solid residues (ashes and dust, especially fine particles) which are dispersed through the smoke. Depending on the efficiency of the heating appliance, other pollutants can be emitted in variable quantities, especially if combustion is incomplete: polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), Benzo[a]pyrene (BaP), volatile organic compounds (VOCs), nitrogen oxide (NOx), benzene, carbon monoxide (CO)…

As you can see, older and less efficient wood-burning appliances tend to produce more fine particles, which can contribute to air pollution. That’s why it’s important to choose a high-quality wood-burning appliance and follow the guidelines for clean burning.


💡 Good to know: Emissions from wood burning represent for the residential and tertiary sector about one third of the total emissions of particulate matter (PM10) and almost half of the total emissions of fine particles (PM2.5).

Source: ATMO

Winter, and mainly cold days, is the best time for fine particles pollution because of an increased use of heating and meteorological conditions favorable to the stagnation of pollutants.

Wood heating considered as non-efficient, such as open fireplaces, old stoves, appliances dating before 2002, is a major source of PM.

Heating with wood without polluting is possible!

It is possible to use wood for heating without polluting the environment.

By respecting a few rules of good practice, it is possible to reduce the pollution emitted by your wood heating system, both indoors and outdoors, but also to increase its efficiency: comfort and savings guaranteed!

6 advices recommended by the ADEME to reduce the emission of particles (inside and outside) due to wood heating:

Choose a suitable fuel: dry, quality wood

With damp wood, containing more than 25% moisture, there is an almost exponential increase in carbon monoxide (CO), volatile organic compounds (VOC) and particulate emissions. It is important to use only low-emission wood species (beware of softwoods which are highly emissive).

Lighting the fire from above

Top lighting is a method that can help reduce the fine particle pollution associated with wood burning. Unlike traditional bottom lighting, which can produce a lot of smoke and emissions, top lighting burns the wood more completely and produces less smoke.

80% of the emissions are produced in the first 10-15 minutes of combustion.

Avoid burning unauthorized waste or materials

Burning unauthorized waste or materials can produce pollutant emissions that are hazardous to your health. It is important to comply with local regulations and to burn only dry, well-cut wood.

Maintain your heating equipment regularly

Poorly maintained heating equipment can produce more smoke and polluting emissions.

💡 1 mm of soot in the flue is 10% more wood consumption. Avoid the use of chimney sweep logs: they have not proven their effectiveness

Regulate your heating consumption

A wood-burning appliance must be operated at full speed; at idle it consumes more and pollutes more. Do not let your appliance idle at night (without flame).

Choosing an efficient, quality wood-burning appliance

Modern wood stoves and pellet boilers are equipped with advanced combustion systems that reduce pollutant emissions. They are also more efficient and produce more heat with less fuel.

💡There are financial aids and this allows you to save money (3 times less wood consumed), get more comfort with a more diffuse heat and preserve your health by emitting 30 times less particles (both indoors and outdoors).

Fine particle pollution is a significant problem in urban areas, and wood burning can be a major source of this pollution. However, cities can take steps to reduce this pollution, including encouraging the use of cleaner heating appliances, educating residents about the risks of fine particle pollution and the steps they can take to reduce their exposure.

Votre ville fait face à une forte pollution aux particules fines en hiver ?

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