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Wood Heaters Deliver Low Greenhouse Emissions and Cheapest Running Costs for Domestic Heating in Australia

Contrary to what many people believe, wood heating provides the cheapest form of domestic heating and also delivers the smallest greenhouse footprint.

The Australian Home Heating Association (AHHA) strongly promotes, through a range of education campaigns, the use of low emission Australian Standards compliant wood heaters and the correct use of wood fuel when running them.

No shortage of scientific studies (see below) by highly respected organisations conclude that correctly used modern wood heaters used according to instructions are cheap and the lowest greenhouse emitters when compared to other methods of home heating.

Scientific Studies

  • The AHHA Fact Sheet  neatly summarises the benefits of wood heating to the environment as well as comparative running costs and a snap shot of wood heating usage in Australia.
  • Burning firewood that has been grown in sustainable wood production systems can significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions, compared to emissions from non-renewable energy sources, according to the Victorian Department of primary Industries Firewood and Woody Biomass and their Role in Greenhouse Gas Reduction. http://www.homeheat.com.au/pdf/Heating_Greenhouse_Gas.pdf
  • The Research Institute for Sustainable Development at Murdoch University, finds wood heaters serve an important role in Australia's domestic heating sector. They provide a cheap heating option for many families; particularly those not connected to natural gas. Provided firewood supplies are properly managed, no net greenhouse gas release should occur. http://www.rise.org.au/info/Tech/woodheater/index.html
  • The Western Australian Government Sustainable Energy Development Office supplies useful information on the running costs and greenhouse emissions for domestic heating. Once again, wood heating is shown to be very cost effective  and greenhouse friendly. http://www1.sedo.energy.wa.gov.au/pages/heat_run.asp  
  • A 2007 report prepared for the Victorian Department of Sustainability and Environment titled  "Options to reduce Greenhouse emissions from new homes in Victoria - the building approval process" click here contains useful cost comparisons between wood and other heating fuels (see Table 16 on page 53).  It also highlights the greenhouse benefits of using firewood instead of fossil fuels (see page 51). Download Wilkenfeld Report.

The Australian Home Heating Association Inc is the peak industry body representing over 250 manufacturers, retailers, installers, maintenance companies and the firewood sector of the wood heating industry which employs over 10,000 Australians nationwide.

A wood burning heater bathes the room with a rich, soothing warmth that no other energy source can equal.   

If the existing domestic heating needs now supplied by firewood were met from other sources (gas and electricity) there would be a net increase of about 5 million tonnes of CO2 emitted each year in Australia. This extra CO2 release would be significant given Australia’s awkward position because of it’s already high per capita CO2 emissions and it’s desire to be given special consideration in meeting Greenhouse gas emission targets.

The potential exists for actually reducing Australia’s emissions of CO2 through establishment of fuelwood plantations. If these were established over a period of, say, 10 years, throughout this establishment period there would be a gross capture of carbon from the atmosphere. Once in equilibrium with firewood demand, the gross benefit would cease, but net emissions from this energy source would be zero.