Ten tips to reduce winter air pollution

3 June, 2021Posted in: Community, Environment
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Wood fire smoke

Wingecarribee Shire Council is asking residents to check their wood heaters to boost efficiency and help improve air quality this winter.

“As temperatures drop and winter sets in, the incorrect use of wood fire heaters can seriously affect our air quality,” said Council’s Acting Deputy General Manager Ms Danielle Lidgard.

“On colder days, wood smoke particles from inefficient heaters can be seen as a smoke haze that sometimes sits over built-up areas which can be bad for our health.”

“Wood smoke can cause breathing difficulties, especially for people suffering existing respiratory conditions, such as asthmatics, and for very young children and older people.”

“Efficient wood heaters can provide considerable cost savings and reduce the amount of emissions released into the air.”

Ten tips to reduce wood smoke pollution are:

  • Don’t let your heater smoulder overnight – keep enough air in the fire to maintain a flame.
  • Burn only dry, aged hardwood in your wood heater. Unseasoned wood has lots of moisture, which causes a fire to smoke.
  • Store your wood under cover in a dry, ventilated area. Freshly cut wood needs to be stored for at least eight to twelve months.
  • Never burn rubbish, driftwood or painted or treated wood. These are sure to pollute the air and can produce poisonous gases.
  • When lighting a cold heater, use plenty of dry kindling to establish a good fire quickly.
  • Use several small logs rather than one large log and stack them loosely in your heater, so air can circulate around them. Don’t cram the firebox full.
  • Keep the flame lively and bright. Your fire should only smoke when you first light it and when you add extra fuel. Open the air controls fully for five minutes before and 15 to 20 minutes after reloading the heater.
  • Check your chimney regularly to see how well your fire is burning. If there is smoke coming from the chimney, increase the air supply to your fire.
  • Have the chimney cleaned every year to prevent creosote build-up.
  • If you are buying a wood heater, make sure it has a compliance plate showing it meets the Australian Standard (AS/NZS 4013:1999).

“It’s the responsibility of all owners to ensure their wood heaters are working correctly and they’re doing their bit to minimise the harmful effects of smoke pollution on the environment and their neighbours,” said Ms Lidgard.

Council has an education first approach to managing complaints about excessive smoke from household chimneys. A Smoke Abatement Notice may be issued to households with chimneys that appear to be emitting excessive smoke.

For more information visit www.wsc.nsw.gov.au/woodsmoke or phone Council on 4868 0888.