Clean Burning Wood Stoves Cut Health Costs

Clean Burning Wood Stoves Cut Health Costs

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Find out how clean-burn is so important in reducing health costs.

As a leading manufacturer of wood stoves and fireplaces, Jøtul has pioneered the development of clean burning wood stoves since the early 90’s. For as many years, the company has worked actively towards governments, environmental and branch organisations nationally and abroad, in order to spread the importance of clean-burn.

Today many municipalities in Norway, but also abroad, fund replacements of older wood stoves with new clean burning stoves.

“It’s important for us to inform not only the governments and organisations of the importance of clean burning wood stoves, but also the consumer. That new clean burning wood stoves reduce particulate emission with up to 90% and use over 40% less wood due to higher efficiency, helps the consumer make an economic, healthy and environmentally friendly choice”, say René Christensen.

Jøtul supports the recently released independent report “Cleaner wood burning cuts health costs”, written by Sintef and Norwegian Energy for the Norwegian Directorate of Environment.

Faster replacement of old stoves, better maintenance and several other measures can provide a climate benefit while reducing health costs from wood burning with several billions a year. These are the estimates of the recently published report Norwegian Energy and SINTEF made for the Directorate of Environment.

In conjunction with the Directorate of Environment’s work with short-lived climate forcers, i.e. emissions that for a limited period contributes to warming or cooling of the atmosphere and air pollution, we have studied measures for cleaner fuel wood.

Six initiatives were assessed

The report examines six different wood burning initiatives and how they by 2050, can reduce emissions of short-lived climate forcers.

  • Forced replacement of older stoves (sold before 1998) to newer stoves.
  • Forced replacement of older stoves to newer and the best wood and pellet stoves.
  • Improved combustion technology for those with newer woodstoves.
  • Maintenance and repair of newer wood stoves.
  • Electrostatic particle purification of newer wood stoves.
  • Improved regulation of draught with fluegasfan for newer wood stoves.

Climate & Health

Wood burning emit components such as methane, carbon dioxide (CO2), volatile organic compounds, nitrogen oxides, sulphur and particulate matter (particles). Particulate matter consists of black carbon, which has warming effect, and organic carbon, which has cooling effect. All emissions affect the climate, and several of them, especially particulate matter, have health effects. The report was primarily made to calculate the reduction in emissions, which can be achieved by implementing the six initiatives. In addition, the authors estimated socio-economic profitability including measures the health effect.

Climate in the short term

The initiatives reduce the climate impact of Norwegian emissions in a 10-year perspective. This is equivalent to about 2 percent of the warming from Norwegian CO2 emissions. Yet, long term the climate effect is limited. The reason is that short-lived climate forcers only stay a short time in the atmosphere, and CO2 emissions from wood are considered climate-neutral.

The health benefits can be significant

The report also shows that the initiatives have big health-related impact. Wood burning accounts for about half the emissions of particulate matter in Norway. In addition to road traffic, wood burning is one of the main sources of bad air in cities and towns on cold winter days. By implementing the initiative “Forced replacement of old stoves to newer and the best wood and pellet stoves”, health costs can be reduced by over a billion kroner in 2025.

Based on calculations health-related benefits for all initiatives will increase until 2050, under the assumption that the extent of initiatives increases. According to the estimates all initiatives will be socio-economic profitable.

Estimates, not precise estimates

The authors of the report have used established valuation factors, i.e. health benefits specified in kroner per kilo aerosol emissions, to calculate the value of the health effects of these measures. It is not possible to conclude on how much and how consumers will heat with wood in the future. Whether how considerable reductions in emissions the initiatives will give, nor the value of health damage. Such assessments can therefore never be completely precise and are only estimates based on the best available knowledge.

Greater health benefits in the big cities

The calculations above are for towns with up to 100,000 inhabitants. If the initiatives are implemented solely in locations with more than 100 000 inhabitants (Oslo, Bergen, Stavanger, Trondheim, Drammen, Fredrikstad), estimated health benefits per kilogram aerosol emissions, are estimated to be more than seven times higher.

Municipalities have several instruments

The report describes some existing instruments to reduce emissions from wood burning. Funding to replace old stoves found in individual municipalities and these can the report be expanded and strengthened. In addition, support is provided to implement measures to improve maintenance, electrostatic particle purification and improved restriction. The municipality may regulate emissions from wood-burning if there is a risk of violating pollution regulations minimum particulate matter. The report notes that the prohibition of the use of older stoves can be considered either permanently or intermittently and / or areas with high particulate matter levels.

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