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Wednesday 24 January 2024

Shining a light on the uncomfortable
truth about wood burning

The evidence: harm to your wallet

Wood burners are more expensive to heat your home than gas boilers or heat pumps, unless you have access to private woodland and can forage your own wood.1 Scrap wood that hasn’t been properly dried or seasoned or has coatings such as varnish or paint can be extremely toxic when burned.

The evidence: harm to your health

Domestic burning, which includes wood and a small proportion of coal and 'smokeless fuels', is the single biggest source of harmful small particle air pollution in the UK, making up 27% of PM2.5 emissions.2 Even homes with the newest "ecodesign" wood burners are three times more polluted than homes without.3

The more harmful small particle air pollution you are exposed to, the more likely you are to die from heart or lung disease or lung cancer. It can also cause diabetes, damage your brain health and lead to dementia, and affect unborn children.4 Being exposed to indoor burning can increase your risk of developing lung cancer or lung disease.6

The evidence: harm to the planet

Wood is not a carbon neutral fuel. For the same amount of heat or energy, burning wood releases more carbon dioxide (CO2) than oil or gas.7 It can take decades for trees to regrow and reabsorb the carbon emitted by burning wood. Cutting down trees for fuel destroys forests, damages ecosystems and leads to biodiversity loss.8