Tips to Burn Wood More Efficiently to Save Money, Reduce Air Pollution and Protect Our Health

Eco-City Alexandria: Get Involved!

During the winter months, many people choose to take advantage of their wood-burning stoves and fireplaces. But did you know that how you burn wood can impact your health and that of your neighbors? Burning dry, seasoned, clean wood in a well-maintained wood burning stove or fireplace provides an energy- and cost-efficient benefit that minimizes air pollution and adverse health impacts. Interested in burning wood more efficiently? The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) offers the following tips through its BurnWise awareness program:

  • Store fire wood outdoors off the ground, with top covered to ensure the wood stays dry.
  • Burn only dry hardwood—wood burns best when it has less than 20% moisture content.
  • Burn only wood that has been seasoned for at least 6 months.
  • If using manufactured logs, chose those made from 100% compressed sawdust.
  • Keep the doors of wood burning appliances closed.
  • Clean and maintain chimneys to provide good draft and to reduce risk of chimney fires.
  • Build and maintain hot fires—smoldering fires are not safe nor efficient.
  • Do not burn:
    o coated, painted or pressure treated wood,
    o wood with glue on or in it, or
    o household trash, including magazines, boxes, wrapping paper, cardboard, plastics or foam.
  • Consider purchasing EPA certified or qualified appliances (fireplaces, masonry heaters, wood pellet stoves, fireplace inserts, hydronic heaters, and forced air furnaces. These are appliances that meet regulatory (certified) or voluntary (qualified) EPA emission standards.  These models burn more cleanly and efficiently than older wood-burning appliances.

Visit alexandriava.gov/AirQuality to learn more about recommended practices for operating wood burning appliances.