Heating Season Begins in Golden – Keep Calm and Bring on the Snow

For those of us who heat with wood we have a responsibility to our community to limit the smoke we allow to belch out of our chimneys.

Image submitted by the Golden and District Air Quality Committee

Image submitted by the Golden and District Air Quality Committee

Annette Luttermann

Golden and District Air Quality Committee

My garden is looking pretty droopy after the frost last week. The pumpkin patch looks like it just melted.  Yet this means that the beautiful snowy Golden winter is coming, along with the need to heat the house.

For those of us who heat with wood, like myself, we have a big responsibility to our community to limit the amount of smoke we allow to belch out of our chimneys. It is not always easy. If we have an old, inefficient stove, if our firewood is not dry enough, or if we simply don’t pay enough attention to the fire and let it smoulder, we could be contributing to serious air pollution inside and out.

Some Golden residents suffer from heart and lung illnesses that can be significantly exacerbated by wood smoke. Young children can develop asthma through exposure to excessive wood smoke. The haze can settle over Golden on those cold, still days in winter when the smoke and other pollutants cannot escape the valley. This can at times contribute to severe air pollution events, and frankly make the town look not so appealing.

Since I started to pay more attention to this myself, I think I have become a better neighbour. We got rid of an old beast of a wood stove/furnace in the basement, and installed a nice new, smaller one on the main floor of the house. It is EPA/CSA approved to burn with less harmful emissions. Sure, the basement is cooler – it makes a good cold storage room now. However, the fire can be monitored better upstairs and the cat loves it!

We burn less than half the wood that the former owners of the house did, so we save money and time splitting and hauling wood. Plus, we got some money back on the cost of the new stove by applying for rebates from the Golden and District Air Quality Committee.

Our family received great service from a local wood stove supplier and installer who also gave us good advice about how to upgrade and maintain the chimney. I want to make sure that we don’t have any chimney fires.

We made a point of getting our firewood in last spring, so it is good and dry for the winter. My husband built a nifty new airy wood shed – almost taken over by our daughter for band practice! It is full of nice, dry firewood – well less than 20% moisture as it should be.

I regularly tramp outside, into what I hope is crisp clean air, to check whether the chimney is smoking. After the first ten minutes or so of starting a new fire, this super-efficient stove and chimney emits NO VISIBLE SMOKE! Just the way it should be – the results of good dry wood and a nice hot fire.

We are ready for a cozy winter!