The New Zealand Home Heating Association puts out propaganda every so often and here is their 10 reasons to buy a wood fire with some commentary
Hopefully I don’t get threats from the NZHHA like the Australian Home Heating Association used to give me.
1. Wood fires are designed to heat the entire house, not just a single room.
Wood fires give out a really uneven heat. They have no thermostat. It makes near the fire really, really hot, and the rest of the room can be cold. If you do want even heat throughout a room then get the right capacity heat-pump installed. They are cheaper to run than a wood burner with the high cost of wood. They are also very efficient. You get about 4-5 times more heat than the power you put in because it moves environmental heat from outside and doesn’t make the heat itself. With the thermostats they also turn themselves off when they’re not needed.
Also woodfires don’t have a cooling function in summer like a heat-pump does.
2. Wood fires use the world’s No.1 sustainable fuel – wood!
Wood smoke is also the No. 2 cause of lung cancer after tobacco and before vehicle and industrial emissions.
3. Wetbacks can be fitted to some wood fires, which can supply the entire home’s hot water needs.
Except on nights when you don’t use the fire, so they must be supplemented with electric hot water anyway. The best way to heat your hot water is solar, and leave the inefficient wet-backs alone.
4. Wood fuel is carbon neutral.
Except large trucks are needed to cart the wood around. Wood fuel is not carbon neutral. In hydro and wind powered New Zealand electric heat-pumps are carbon neutral. Saying you are carbon neutral also makes a lie of the fact that CO2 ain’t the only thing that comes out of a flue. There are way more dangerous chemicals than inert CO2. Wood smoke has hundred of toxic chemicals, just like tobacco smoke. Hydro and wind powered electric heat-pumps don’t have any emissions.
5. Can be used for cooking – again great during power cuts.
Most customers in NZ have better than 99% of the time service. So this is an irrelevance.
6. Running a wood fire is the cheapest form of heating.
This is a lie. Buying wood through retail channels can be expensive. I’ve seen it at $300 a trailer load. Then there are the firelighters and the kindling. And is your time worth nothing? The cheapest form of warmth is actually socks and another layer of clothing and then after that an efficient 4.5-5 star energy rated heat-pump.
7. Clean air approved wood fires are affordable.
There is no such thing as a “clean” wood fire. They are only cleaner than dirtier wood fires. There is no guarantee that the woodburner you buy is the one that passed the test. One study in Australia found the air hole sizes to be different in retail models to the models tested, because to pass the clean air test, they burn badly and you don’t get any warmth. The worst retail model polluted at 17 times the already lax Australian standards that it supposedly passed. Gas fires and electric heat-pumps on the other hand are clean.
8. When power cuts hit, wood fires keep on going, and going.
Woop de woo. 99% availability or better for most customers makes this irrelevant.
9. Give your family the advantage of having a dry, healthy home – unlike unflued gas and other moisture producing forms of heating.
So don’t get an unflued gas fire, get a flued one. Heat pumps are the best type of home heating to reduce moisture.
10. Wood fires offer great performance, great styling with real flames, and make any home warm and cosy.
Heat Pumps have great styling without pollution. If you do like flames and instant warmth get gas.
I can list 10 reasons NOT to get a woodburner.
1. They are a bugger to turn on.
2. They pollute.
3. Your children may be born with birth defects as wood smoke has mutagenic agents in it.
4. Lung cancer, as wood smoke has carcinogenic agents in it.
5. Your neighbours might hate you for smoking them out.
6. They are incredibly dirty. Where are you going to put that ash? And the embers will burn your carpet.
7. You have to clean the flu, and it is a mucky business. If you don’t your house may burn down.
8. They stink.
9. They are often overpoweringly hot, or they don’t warm up parts of your room.
10. In all likelihood they are going to be banned, so why risk buying one?
So there is absolutely no reason to install one or use one. If you do it’s a bit like shitting in your own bed. You have to live in the filth. Actually it’s a bit like breaking into your neighbour’s house and shitting in their bed, then going back and shitting in your own. Not only do you have to live in the filth, but they have to live in your filth too.