Heating up winter chills

Pascale Rose, of Clunes, prefers wood heating for her home to electric bar heaters.
Pascale Rose, of Clunes, prefers wood heating for her home to electric bar heaters. Doug Eaton

WINTER woollies and hot water bottles are already out of the wardrobe but when it comes to heating your home, which is best, gas or wood heaters?

Graeme Palmer, a lecturer at the School of Environment, Science and Engineering at SCU, helped clarify myth from truth.

Pascale Rose has a slow combustion wood heater and small electric bar heaters at her home in Clunes.

"I would love to have gas connected but we decided to source wood and use the electric heaters only when needed," she explained.

She agreed that heating was a fine balance between environmental impact and family budget.

Graeme Palmer explained that wood had an environmental bonus, "as there should be net increase in greenhouse gas".

The downside was wood burning produced carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide and nitrogen.

About slow-combustion wood heaters, Mr Palmer said that "if you burn wood slowly, you get a greater efficiency in generating more heat for the room, but the particular pollution from these burners can be higher".

In Newrybar, Shane Moore converted his fireplace from wood to gas last Friday.

"For me, gas is clean, is a good solution and will heat this whole house," he explained.

Mr Moore added that the process of collecting and storing the wood was time consuming.

Is gas better? Graeme Palmer explained that "natural gas is methane, which is a pure form of fuel that is carbon-based".

"When you burn gas you don't produce nearly as many particles, but you produce carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide and even nitrogen."

Asked about an ideal solution for convenient, affordable heating fuel for Australian homes, Mr Palmer said that "we would use electric heating generated from a renewable fuel source where the infrastructure allows for the control of the polluters".

Back to the gas or wood question, Mr Palmer said it came down to price versus amount of heat.

"If we have the same amount of weight of gas and wood there is almost four times more heat in gas, but the price of gas can be four times more expensive than wood if the later is sourced correctly."




Renewable resource.

No net increase in greenhouse gas

Slow combustion generates more heat



Smoke is a health hazard

Inconvenient to collect and transport

Slow combustion generates more pollution



Four times more heat than wood

Fewer pollutants if gas is pure

Convenient transport and storage



Non-renewable resource.

More expensive

Hazard if leaked

Topics:  cold winter

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