Impact on the Environment

Based in:

Bexhill-on-Sea

East Sussex.

01424 224222

 

Ok, which type of fuel will have the least detrimental effect on the environment?


Solid Fuel:

Solid fuel covers a variety of fuels e.g. wood, coal, anthracite,  etc. The only sustainable solid fuel is wood, which can always be regrown and managed. Coal and coal derivatives ( anthracite, coke etc.) will one day run out or, more likely, become too expensive to mine. Mining has an impact on the environment, creating tunnels under the earth and slag heaps on the surface, but it also creates jobs and, to be honest, is totally useless for anything other than burning! Coal does however create LOTS of carbon Monoxide when burned, especially when the fire is started and when it is damped down at the end on the evening. In fact when you first light a coal fire it produces 1000 times more carbon monoxide than a gas boiler. Burning coal also produces smoke, which can be a problem in urban areas. Check to see if you are in a smokeless zone. If you are, anthracite may be an alternative, as it is a smokeless fuel. Remember you do need somewhere to store the fuel, such as a coal bunker ( not the prettiest of things). That now brings us back to wood. Fairly low impact on the environment, lets face it woods are wonderful playgrounds while the trees are growing. It still produces a lot of carbon monoxide, especially if not used correctly. There are a lot of unscrupulous log salesmen out there, that will sell you unseasoned wood or even wood from trees such as Elder, which you should NEVER burn. For more info on that, click here. Wood can be burned in a smokeless zone so long as it is burned in a DEFRA exempt appliance. There is information on how to season logs here. Correct seasoning is very important for your health, care of your appliance, efficiency and the environment. Storage of logs is also important, and you’ll be surprised how many you will need, to get through the winter. So bear that in mind when choosing a log burner. Information on log storage can be found here. Good seasoned logs can be quite expensive, but remember unseasoned logs can contain up to 70% water!

Another thing to consider is how much heat you waste with solid fuel. Burning in a standard fire grate would be 15-20% efficient. That means 80% of the heat is going up the chimney. A good stove can be up to 70% efficient, which sounds good, doesn’t it? to get 70% efficiency though, the stove has to be running at full belt, therefore giving you 5 to 8Kw of heat, which is ok if you live in a castle, but in the average lounge, you would need to open all the doors and windows! Not quite so economic then, eh?


Gas:

OK, there is a lot of opposition to fracking, but it is a cheap and efficient way to get Natural Gas, enough for years. No one is quite sure of the impact on the environment. As a fuel it is fantastic. It comes through a pipe to your house, so no storage. It is totally controllable for heat and when you want to use it.

You can turn it on and off with ease. Its cheap. Its safe. Its clean. Its low maintenance. And I own shares in it ( not really)! But you get the picture. Liquid Propane Gas (LPG) can be produced in infinite quantities but is expensive to produce, therefore costly to buy.


Electric:

All the pros of gas, without the environmental impact. Much more expensive if used for heat, but has the advantage of being able to have the effect of flames, without the heat. Especially good if you have solar panels producing electricity.




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