Remember, remember this 5th November than not all emissions come from modern stoves!
As this year’s Bonfire Night celebrations take place up and down the country, we can expect to see a spike in particulate matter emissions. The Stove Industry Alliance (SIA) is keen to ensure that these emissions are properly recorded and reported, rather than being incorrectly apportioned as emissions from domestic wood burning stoves.
Andy Hill, chair of the SIA, commented: “It is a common misconception that 38% of PM2.5 emissions come from wood burning stoves. A significant proportion of the emissions currently recorded as domestic combustion come from unregulated outdoor burning, a practice that noticeably increases at this time of year. It is vital that we correctly apportion these emissions so that we can better understand and effectively tackle air pollution.”
Outdoor unregulated burning such as bonfires, firepits, BBQs, incinerators, and wildfires are all included within the current government figures for particulate matter from domestic combustion. So too are all open fireplaces. In London alone, open fires account for approximately 70% of all domestic wood burning, despite the capital being within a Smoke Control Area which makes the practice of burning wood on an open fire illegal under the Clean Air Act.
Andy added: “The proportion of emissions that do come from burning wood for indoor heating can be dramatically reduced and carefully controlled by ensuring the use of Ecodesign compliant stove models with Ready to Burn certified wood fuel, along with professional installation and regular appliance maintenance and chimney sweeping. A modern Ecodesign compliant stove, such as a clearSkies certified appliance, produces up to 90% less emissions than an open fire and up to 80% less than many older, basic stove models. ”
The SIA has long disputed the accuracy of the 38% figure. As well as being flawed for the reasons outlined above, the calculation relies on an incorrect over-assumption of wood fuel usage for domestic burning, as well as out of date emissions factors.
Andy concluded: “The SIA estimates the true volume of wood fuel for domestic heating to be less than a third of that used by the government to calculate the 38%. Indeed the government’s own study, Burning in UK Homes and Gardens undertaken by Kantar recently, backs this up*. We would therefore urge campaigners and policy makers to ensure that they consider all the facts before pointing the finger of blame for poor air quality at modern wood burning stoves this winter.”
Note: *The Clean Air Strategy figure of 38% (of PM2.5 coming from domestic solid fuel) is stated by AQEG, Defra’s Air Quality Expert Group, based on findings in the BEIS Domestic Wood UK Survey published in 2016 which concluded that approximately 6 million tonnes of wood fuel were used annually for domestic heat. To arrive at this figure BEIS conducted a user survey of 1,206 members of the public using wood fuel to heat their homes. In early 2019 the SIA conducted its own user survey to 10,620 members of the public using wood stoves at home using the same questions and methodology as applied to the BEIS survey. The SIA found that 1.85 million tonnes was a more reliable figure. The Kantar study Burning in UK Homes and Gardens found it to be lower again at 1.73 million tonnes.