Sunday, February 08, 2009


A misguided proposal to ban the use of wood-burning stoves is gathering steam in the Canadian city of Montreal. A proposed city bylaw who prohibit the installation of wood burning stoves in any new residence and give citizens around 7 years to convert existing wood fireplaces to natural gas. The bylaw would become the strictest in the nation but does contain exemptions for commercial establishments to allow for things like wood-fired stoves at restaurants or one of Montreal's famous bagel bakeries.

While I don't dispute that the city has its heart in the right place, they are clearly basing their decisions on both faulty logic and poor science. The fact that old-style fireplaces and stoves are inefficient forms of heating is well known, however recent technological advances in wood-fired stoves make them one of the most ecologically sound choices for heating your home.

Modern, two-stage wood stoves are actually a greener and can be an even cheaper energy source then natural gas, especially for those who live in a rural area or who have access to their own wood lot. Those in urban areas may not see a significant cost savings but should not be fooled by propaganda funded by municipal utility companies that have a vested interest in keeping us dependent on thier grid. The Canadian Wood Heat Association has a great website that is packed with information for anybody interested in the benefits of heating with wood or for someone who is hoping to stand up against city hall.

The government points to studies about the huge amount of pollution caused by burning wood for heat. These studies are flawed because they include the pollution of fireplaces, as if they are comparing apples to apples. Everybody knows fireplaces look great but really don't heat the home, as the bulk of heat is lost up the chimney and they produce significant pollution and particulate discharge due to how the wood burns.

If Montreal was smart they could simply outlaw the installation of old-fashioned wood fireplaces and mandate that any wood-stoves installed in homes be of the high efficiency variety, specifically stoves that are approved by the United States Environmental Protection Agency as "low-emission". The stoves that carry this approval burn 1/3 as much wood to produce the same heat as a standard wood stove and produce virtually no smoke. Nearly every major manufacturer builds models that meet this standard in a variety of styles and a price point for every budget.


xoggoth said...

The great thing about wood if you live in the country is you can sometimes find free bits lying about. Keep the woods tidy AND save money.

Ca1v1n said...

Exactly! In the end pretty much anything is bad for the environment based on someones opinion. They would have us all live in mud huts and return to the hunter-gatherer existance of a millenia ago to "save hte planet"

Anonymous said...

"If Montreal was smart"......but if this were the case the post would be moot.