There are many arguments for and against the use of using wood as a fuel. Some see burning wood as a natural alternative to fossil fuels, however others question its eco-credentials.
Being an environmentally focussed business, we thought long and hard about our choice to advocate the use of wood burners and wood burning hot tubs.
Wood burners are charming, smell great and have an amazing aesthetic, but are they eco-friendly?
Well, at first glance, it’s easy to criticise using wood as a fuel. Trees take many years to grow and burning the wrong type of wood can release lots of harmful smoke and emissions into the atmosphere.
Saying that, wood CAN be a green fuel! The key is being responsible, sensible and sustainable in your wood burning practices. Here’s the most important things to think about…
Is your wood coming from a sustainable source?
Carbon is a pollutant and is a product of the lifecycle of a tree. When trees are growing, they absorb carbon and they release carbon when they rot or when they are burned.
If carrying out truly sustainable practices, enough trees should be re-planted in order to absorb (at least) the carbon released from the wood fuels. This is all about creating a ‘closed carbon cycle’ where there is no net increase to the amount of carbon in the atmosphere.
At the very least, you should always make sure your wood source is managed responsibly. One way you can do this is by checking suppliers are registered on The Biomass Suppliers List (BSL). Suppliers registered on the BSL must ensure that their wood fuel is 70% sustainable and 100% legal, as a minimum requirement.
How far is your wood travelling?
Now this is an important one – make sure to find out where your wood comes from.
You might find that the best possible wood supplier, but if it turns out it’s shipped over from elsewhere in Europe, then that’s no use to you!
When exploring options, we actually once ordered a sample pack of ‘eco wood-briquettes’ from 60 miles away but they showed up to my front door comfortably wrapped in layers of plastic… Lesson learned I guess, local is always better.
Buying from a local supplier means a reduced carbon footprint as the trees have been felled and transported locally. Of course, supporting family business your local community is also always a bonus.
What is the moisture content of your wood?
Less moisture = more efficient & less emissions
The moisture content of freshly felled wood is typically around 67%. To have wood that burns evenly and efficiently, you want moisture levels to be below 20%. This is why it is important to dry your wood!
Ideally, it’s best practice to use Kiln-dried logs in your wood burner. These are logs which have been treated at a high temperature to essentially ‘cook-off’ excess moisture.
Kiln-dried wood is recommended by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), and are produced from sustainably managed forests. They also smell better and produce less smoke & emissions, making them a cleaner fuel.
Is your wood burning appliance efficient?
If you’re going to chose to use wood as a fuel, it’s only right that you chose a modern and efficient wood burner.
In general, enclosed wood burners are engineered to get the maximum amount of energy, and thus heat, from your fuel. In fact, when compared to open fires, they are dramatically more efficient and release up to 10 times fewer emissions!
For us, we use a company called Skargards to supply our wood-fired hot tubs. They are the very best in Swedish hot tub manufacturing and are built sustainably for efficiency and durability. Check them out:
Our wood burning practices
It’s always important to know where your wood is coming from, and to ensure it is managed in a sustainable way. For us, we get all our wood locally and sustainably from another family-run business called Fairlie Woodfuels.
They are a BSL certified supplier, meaning all wood meets the eligibility requirements for the UK’s Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI). Around 80% of their wood comes from existing projects, for example, housing developments or areas of trees which have become diseased, so could be considered a by-product.
All of their wood is Kiln-dried which means maximum efficiency and minimal environmental impact. From there, the wood is delivered locally and ‘loose’, so there’s no unnecessary packaging.
Simple, local and sustainable. It’s as easy as that.
How are we aiming to achieve a ‘closed carbon cycle’?
From the outset, we’ve been determined to create a genuinely sustainable business.
Firstly, we recognise that we’re producing carbon through things like wood fuel and ferry travel. Secondly, we look at how we can off-set our carbon footprint.
Through our partnership with Ecologi, we currently donate a set amount each month to fund carbon capture and reforestation projects around the world.
Furthermore, with the help of Ecologi, we’re vowing to plant 10 trees for every single booking at Jack’s Alt-Stays! That’s right, ten.
It’s only the beginning, but check out our impact so far: