Air Quality in Golden: Wood burning stoves used properly

Golden residents live in a gorgeous mountain valley. Unfortunately this also means that air pollutants can accumulate where we live.

Annette Luttermann

Golden and District Air

Quality Committee

Golden residents live in a gorgeous mountain valley.  Unfortunately this also means that air pollutants can accumulate where we live, especially during the winter when temperature inversions trap cold, calm air in the valley bottom.  In a series of articles over the next several weeks, we will explore air quality issues affecting Golden and Area A, and offer actions that individuals in our community can take to help clear the air we breathe.

Wood smoke is one important contributor to poor air quality in Golden in winter. With access to plentiful sources of firewood, many of us burn wood to heat our homes.  However, when wood is burned inefficiently it produces excess smoke – indoors and out. Smoke is unburned fuel. This means less heat is being generated, and more wood is burned than necessary.

Wood smoke creates air pollution that is hazardous to everyone’s health, particularly children, the elderly and those with heart and lung disease. The haze created by excessive smoke also makes the community unattractive and can make outdoor activities unpleasant or even impossible for some residents and visitors.

What can de done?

When you have a good hot fire burning in your wood stove, there should be no visible smoke coming from your chimney. Smoke is a sign that the fire is starved for oxygen, the wood is too moist to burn efficiently, and/or the chimney has inadequate draw.

One step is to ensure your firewood is properly dried with less than 20 per cent moisture, and stored to keep it dry.  You can borrow a moisture meter from the Golden and District Air Quality Committee. Local retailers also offer clean burning fire logs made from waste wood. Only burn firewood – never burn garbage or wood treated in any way.

Keeping your chimney clean will also ensure the best draw and help prevent chimney fires. A local chimney sweep can provide service and advice.

Older wood stoves cannot burn as efficiently as newer models that are CSA/EPA certified. Higher efficiency stoves can burn up to 1/3 less wood for the same amount of heat and reduce emissions up to 90 per cent – but only if burned properly. If you replace your old stove you benefit yourself and your whole community.

Money back when you exchange your stove!

Take advantage of the incentives while they last! The Golden and District Air Quality Committee can currently offer a limited number of rebates.  Golden residents are eligible for a $250 rebate funded by the BC Lung Association. CSRD Area A residents can apply for the $250 rebate and an additional $500 provided by the Regional District.  Residents must first contact a local WETT certified installer such as Parky’s or Kardash.  Your old stove must be removed and destroyed and a new certified wood stove or other low emission heating appliance installed. This process must be verified by the installer who will complete the rebate application.

For more information about the wood stove exchange rebates, air quality issues, or to find out how to join the Golden and District Air Quality Committee, please see www.goldenairquality.ca.

Check back in upcoming issues of the Golden Star for more in a series on air quality in Golden from the Golden and District Air Quality Committee.