Residential Wood Burning

The fluctuating costs of petroleum-based fuels for home heating has many Iowans looking at wood burning as a source of home heating. EPA’s Strategies for Reducing Residential Woodsmoke website will help you “learn before you burn,” and assists consumers in making informed decisions about wood heating. Here are some facts to consider about residential wood burning.

  • The inhalable particle pollution from one woodstove is equivalent to the particle pollution emitted from 3,000 gas furnaces producing the same amount of heat per unit, as determined by the California Air Resources Board.
  • Wood smoke from well-seasoned hardwood contains fine particle pollution, carbon monoxide, and toxic air pollutants, so it is important to release it through a stack well above roof lines. Even in low concentrations, particle pollution in wood smoke can harm the health of children, the elderly, and those with existing respiratory and heart diseases.
  • Be sure to choose the cleanest, most efficient models available, preferably an EPA-certified woodstove or an EPA-certified fireplace insert. Certified stoves use about one-third as much wood and circulate more heat into the home instead of out the flue. They emit 70 percent less pollution on average. Operate and maintain the unit according to manufacturers’ instructions; especially keep the chimney clear and remove ashes so the stove’s air intake vent does not clog.
  • A wood pellet stove burns hot and clean—with 80+ percent efficiency ratings.
  • Install an EPA-qualified wood burning fireplace of fireplace insert. Without it, fireplaces typically lose more heat from a home that they provide. Only burn untreated, well-seasoned wood split the right size for the stove or fireplace. Learn more at EPA's Fireplace Program.
  • Never burn garbage, trash, plastics, rubber, petroleum products, paints, solvents, charcoal/coal or treated woods in any home-heating device. These contain toxic chemicals that can cause cancer and other debilitating effects to humans and animals.

Additional information about residential wood burning is available at EPA’s Burnwise website.