Householders should consider other options before they buy new wood-burning heaters, an air pollution expert says.
Paul Torre, senior applied scientist for air and odour at Victoria’s Environment Protection Authority, says consumers should at least ensure their new wood heater meets Australian standards, while a few simple tips can ensure any wood heater produces less smoke.
‘Wood heaters are a nice thing to have. The thing is that people should consider, if they are really concerned about air pollution and the health impacts, maybe to look at other forms of energy and heating,’ Dr Torre told AAP.
‘I think it’s worth considering that because people should consider that smoke does impact on health, and it would be good to manage and reduce those impacts.
‘But there are practical ways to reduce those impacts.’
Cold, still autumn and winter nights are the prime time for air pollution from wood heating, especially in regional areas off the natural gas system.
On still nights, smoke drains into lower areas and can hang in the air as late as noon the next day, affecting people including those with respiratory or heart complaints, Dr Torre said.
The heater’s design and the fuel it burns are major factors in the smoke it emits, he said.
Dr Torre’s tips to minimise wood heating pollution include:
– ensuring your new wood heater meets the Australian Standard
– regular maintenance
– cleaning the heater and flue once a year
– burning dry wood, preferably hardwood, and
– opening the heater’s vents to enhance combustion and prevent smouldering
For further tips on operating wood heaters or sustainable heating sources, go to http://www.epa.vic.gov.au/your-environment/air/wood-burning-and-air-quality.