Not always. Although traditionally wood stoves have been thought of as environmentally dirty–the EPA has identified them as a major source of air pollution–there are ways to use them that are carbon neutral. Wood is a renewable resource, and a tree planted to replace one that was cut down for fuel will often absorb the equivalent of the CO2 emitted by the burning of the wood. However, a stove must be efficient and kept well-cleaned. The EPA approves wood stoves based on efficiency and emissions, and in fact it’s illegal to buy one that’s not approved. Some models come with a catalytic converter that re-burns particles that would otherwise have been emitted. These models are more expensive, however. Wood pellet stoves are also a good choice, burning less wood to produce the same amount of heat, and emissions are generally lower. Older (non-EPA approved) stoves cannot be retrofitted to fit modern standards.
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