Monday, December 14, 2009

Home Fires Burning - An Envirorant


A Winter Evening,

Currier & Ives,

Bridgerman Art Gallery.


The fireplace guys installed my cast iron wood stove on Friday -- which is why I wasn't here. An all-day job, including the insertion of about 40 feet of a silver anaconda/chimney liner and a slate heat pad over the original hearth.

Now, if the bitter winds of winter take down the power lines I won't have to flee my brick igloo. If need be I can cook on it.

An alternate source of heat is especially important here to prevent freezing pipes because I have those elegant, old-fashioned radiators/hot water heat in addition to the usual domestic water pipes.

It's a sweet little stove with glass doors and a catalytic function. I beam at it.

I have also, beyond the garden, a wood-burning bbq. Not propane, not charcoal. And made, incidentally, out of re-cycled concrete blocks and re-cycled racks. I have mature trees which need, on occasion, pruning or removal. The ashes go on my garden for those plants and shubs that like it.

Now for my rant.

Rigid enviromentalists are apt to exclaim about the evil of carbon emissions/ air pollution from wood burning items such as mine.

They fail to factor the carbon emissions produced should my tree cuttings and other untreated and burnable wood be put at the curb to be hauled off to landfill by a lumbering/gas burning garbage truck. Or the emissions produced to supply electricity for my electric stove and microwave should they be used in lieu of firing up the bbq.

I think the carbon credit is in my favour.



29 comments:

Rick said...

Absolutely. Wood is a biofuel, and you're not even using fossil fuels (e.g., a bulldozer) to gather it.

Bernita said...

And I use a bow saw to cut it up, Rick.
Amazes me sometimes how much honest wood is available even in an urban area.

jason evans said...

Wood stoves are wonderful. A taste of a slower, more rugged time.

sex scenes at starbucks said...

If it's got a catalytic converter, it's not only more efficient for the homeowner, but it's much better for the environment. It basically reburns the ash and smoke. So well done. :)

(I used to sell stoves and fireplaces. Can you tell?)

raine said...

Having spent over 24 hours in a tomb-cold house when the power went out a few years back, my congratulations, Bernita. A wise--and ecologically sound--investment.

I have fond memories of my grandmother's old woodburning stove. She used it to warm the house and to cook everything, and it was the best tasting food I've ever had.

starvingwritenow said...

I tended a woodstove for several years when I lived in upstate NY, and I also grew up with one. I miss it--that's one thing I definitely want in the dream house.

As they say, "Wood warms you three times: cutting it, stacking it and burning it." I agree with your carbon credit!

pjd said...

Indeed, one must look at the entire footprint of an activity rather than focus with a rabid intensity on just one specific step in the process.

I honestly don't know that you can really count too much of the garbage truck emissions as that truck would pass your house anyway. And if everyone burned wood such that no garbage truck was ever necessary, I'm not sure we'd be any more sustainable. (Except for the fossil fuels part, but there is technology to move the trucks away from that.)

I'm not saying you're wrong. I actually agree with your rant--too many people focus on one activity to the exclusion of the holistic view of the entire system. Such a laser focus makes them feel good but rarely solves the entire problem. (See: "Death Panels" or "Public Option" in US health care reform.)

Angie said...

If you're in a place that freezes regularly, a fireplace/stove is definitely a goodness. [nod] I also recommend a dutch oven -- a real one, cast iron with a cast iron lid with a lip you can pile coals on top of -- if you think you might need to cook over a fire for more than one meal.

Angie

Natasha Fondren said...

I had one of those in one of the houses I rented. I loved it. That thing could get the entire house, rooms away, at a toast 80 or so degrees, all with a couple pieces of wood. It rocked.

Bernita said...

Certainly more rugged, Jason.

"(I used to sell stoves and fireplaces." Sometimes I wonder what you haven't done, Betsy. It's why you're so interesting.

And, oh, the bread and buns, Raine! Cooking on a wood stove is an art.

Wood heat always seem more "real" to me, Starving.I understand it - unlike electricity. ( All those little thingies chasing themselves up and down copper wires like demented gerbils.)

"one must look at the entire footprint of an activity rather than focus with a rabid intensity on just one specific step in the process."
My thoughts exactly, PJD, only you express it much better.
Re: the garbage truck. Of course, it's still going by and, of course, I still have garbage. However, it isn't idling while the poor guy wrestles with extra stuff and the truck isn't filled up as fast which may mean fewer trips.
I take a micro view.

"A goodness." Angie, I like that.

Charles Gramlich said...

You're right. And in a landfill they'll hardly decay properly anyway. we burn some of our stuff as well, and the ashes will settle and enrich the soil elsewhere.

Dave F. said...

You must have at least a two story house if not three. I would bet on three story because of the chimney. Those wood burning stoves are nice for cozy, comfortable heating. I have a hot water baseboard heater through my house and it is draft free. I don't like forced air because of the drafts. Drives me crazy.

And that "Rigid Environmentalist" who carried on about wood stoves doesn't understand the Carbon Cycle or the proper concept of carbon footprint. Energy was my career for 30 years. I know all about those matters.

sylvia said...

I think people like to focus on what they see. So a wood-burning stove has smoke, thus it must, somehow, be worse than anything done far away to process your wood or supply your electric.

A friend came to visit us for a long weekend, a 2.5 hour flight in a 747. Then she repeatedly turned off the living room light (a room we were not in but walk through regularly so I leave the light on) with comments about saving energy.

I commented that I found it odd that she worried about the lightbulb but had no issue with the luxury of flight.

As a pilot, of course, I think people should fly all the time! But I don't feel that turning off the living room light somehow makes up for the fuel I have burnt. That doesn't mean I leave all lights blazing but neither do I feel virtuous for gestures that are overall fairly meaningless.

(I do walk everywhere when I am at home and use public transport in London so in terms of fuel I like to hope I break even with the average person.)

Bernita said...

It's a saving in several ways, Charles.

I dislike forced air too, Dave.Give me radiant heat.
Properly speaking, it's a two-story house; but it's 12 feet from the floor boards to the roof tree in the "attic," so the house has 3 usable floors.

Bernita said...

Cozy, Natasha. Very cozy.

Bernita said...

Sylvia, you've put your finger on a form of hypocrisy that exists in probably every human interest that evolves into zealotry.

BernardL said...

It's impossible to argue with insanity. I think sometimes they'd rather we freeze to death. You're right to protect those pipes. If those things burst, that is one icy cold headache. I'm glad you're set for the winter. I hereby sell you one million carbon credits for $0, Bernita. They're imaginary anyway. :)

Bernita said...

I am so relieved to have an alternate heat source in place, Bernard.

SzélsőFa said...

if I am not labelled an eco-nazi, it's only because I behave myself, but this is nonsense. you are just doing the right thing. some people just don't seem to see the importance of things and the right spot to pick on.
our complete house is heated by firewood, leftover planks and pelleted wood bricks.

Whirlochre said...

The only carbon footprint that counts is the Grim Reaper's boot on humanity's arse c/o wanton abuse of the planet's natural resources. I can't think that burning the odd log in your (quite frankly sumptuous-sounding) stove is going to incur the wrath of said vile spectre. Likely, before the year is out, you will have been hailed Queen Of Toasted Muffins.

Vesper said...

I have those hot water radiators in my house. I love so much the kind of heat they give...

laughingwolf said...

they just bitch cuz of the smoke produced in the burning

apparently the pellet-burning stoves are somewhat more efficient and give more heat, but your sounds ideal

Bernita said...

SzelsoFa, I firmly believe in and practice the environmental three Rs, but I'm not an evagelical.

Whirl...I am seldom "wanton"....

Oh, Vesper, so do I!

Perhaps, LW, but pellets must take energy to produce and transport, etc.and I'm cheap. I prefer "found" wood.

Barbara Martin said...

Much better you are burning wood, Bernita. Gas or propane release awful noxious fumes into the air afterwards.

Your stove will keep you toasty warm and you should start practicing how to cook on it sooner than later.

When I lived in rural Alberta I had one and it certainly came in handy when the power went out and I had to melt snow to get the water pump primed before watering the horses. All in -40C/F weather and snow up to my knees.

laughingwolf said...

true, the best is free... even if that means adding your sweat equity into the equation

they are talking here about converting all kinds of otherwise 'useless' forestry leftovers to pellets...

but you're right, a lot of energy goes into pellet production
and transport

Bernita said...

Eh, Barbara!
Actually, I was born back of beyond and grew up with a wood stove. Still, one forgets certain cooking tricks.

Like sawdust mountains, I assume, LW? Energy use aside, there might well be an eco-benefit.

stacy said...

I can't see why this wouldn't be healthy for the environment. Wouldn't the surrounding trees soak up the emissions, anyway?

Yes, I'm procrastinating on your blog.

Bernita said...

"Wouldn't the surrounding trees soak up the emissions, anyway?"
True, Stacy, they would.

Am pleased that you are.

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