Fireplaces and stoves, especially open wood burning fireplaces, have traditionally been inefficient forms of heating for a home.
Efficiency refers to the ability for a fireplace to turn the fuel into heat, and an inefficient fireplace or stove can produce more waste by-products and emissions and be less environmentally friendly as a result.
Pellet stoves are the most efficient form of home heating appliance and burn the fuel very cleanly, effectively and efficiently with minimal wastage in the form of ash or emissions. Pellet fuel is also made from renewable sources and often recycled materials making pellets stoves very environmentally friendly.
Our pellet stove is classed very highly in terms of both energy efficiency for the electrical power and combustion efficiency for the minimal wastage and emissions it produces, and is rated even higher for combustion efficiency than our wood burning stoves.
We’ve explained in more detail below using our own pellet stove as an example whether:
- Pellets are eco-friendly or bad for the environment.
- Pellet stoves pollute the air.
- Pellet stoves are environmentally friendly.
Are Pellets Eco Friendly? (Or Bad For The Environment?)
Pellets for use in pellet stoves are a sustainable and a renewable energy source, with many pellets available that are made from recycled wood by-products. However, a downside with pellets is that they must be manufactured and transported, commonly within plastic bags.
Unlike traditional firewood that can be sourced locally and seasoned naturally, pellets which are the fuel used within pellet stoves must be manufactured.
However, unlike gas for use in gas fireplaces which is a non-renewable source of energy, pellets are made from renewable materials and are commonly made with wood by-products.
For example, the pellets we burn in our own pellet stove are wood pellets.
The advantages of burning pellets include:
- Made from renewable materials such as wood.
- In many cases made from recycled materials such as wood chippings or sawdust.
- Compressed into a smaller area helping to reduce transport and storage costs.
- Often need to meet more stringent regulations for moisture and ash content, helping them to burn more cleanly.
In line with what the manufacturer of our own pellet stove recommends, we burn Class A1 pellets in our pellet stove, which are premium quality household pellets that meet the highest burning requirements and produce the least amount of ash.
These pellets have a maximum moisture content of 8% and maximum ash content of 0.5%, meaning that minimal wastage and emissions are produced when we burn these pellets to produce heat for our home, making them an eco-friendly alternative to firewood.
However, there are also a few downsides of pellets of pellet stoves in terms of environmentally friendliness, which include:
- The pellets need to be manufactured and so can’t be sourced and seasoned locally like firewood can.
- Pellets typically come in plastic bags of certain weights and burning a lot of pellets in a season can lead to a lot of plastic waste if not recycled properly.
- Needing to manufacture and transport the pellets isn’t very environmentally friendly.
Overall, the benefits that pellets bring in terms of ability to burn very cleanly with minimal emissions often outweighs the disadvantages of pellets such as being transported in plastic bags.
However, in some cases where pellets aren’t available locally and would increase the transportation distance and costs then using a wood stove to burn firewood rather than a pellet stove to burn pellets can be a more environmentally friendly option (as long as the firewood is properly seasoned).
Do Pellet Stoves Pollute The Air?
Pellet stoves take the high quality properties of pellets and use a range of automated electronic components to burn the fuel efficiently and effectively to make them cleanest solid fuel burning residential heating appliance.
While the pellets themselves are typically manufactured to high standards to be low in moisture and ash content for the cleanest burn, pellet stoves are also set up to burn the pellets as cleanly and efficiently as possible.
Pellet stoves are electronic appliances and have a range of integrated mechanical and electrical components to help make the burning process automated and therefore much more accurate in terms of the fuel to air ratio, which can:
- Maximize the amount of heat generated from each piece of fuel.
- Minimize the amount of ash produce the number of emissions released into the atmosphere.
Pellet stoves can achieve some of the highest efficiency levels of any home heating appliance.
As an example, the efficiency rating of our own pellet stove is 87%, which is much higher than even our modern and efficient wood burning stoves.
A result of all this is that pellet stoves produce minimal emissions and typically aren’t as polluting for the air as many other forms of fireplace or stove.
‘Some pellet fuel appliances have much higher combustion and heating efficiencies than ordinary wood stoves or fireplaces. As a consequence, they produce very little air pollution. In fact, pellet stoves are the cleanest solid fuel, residential heating appliance.’Energy.gov
However, burning wood can still produce more particular pollution than oil or gas heating, but on the other hand in terms of environmental friendliness wood is a renewable source of energy, while oil and gas aren’t.
Are Pellet Stoves Environmentally Friendly?
Pellet stoves are the cleanest burning form of solid fuel home heating appliance and can be considered to be a more environmentally friendly form of wood burning appliance.
Burning wood can still produce more particulates compared to gas, but wood is still a renewable energy source unlike gas.
Overall, if you’re looking to burn wood in your home to produce heat then using a pellet stove can be a more environmentally friendly option compared to wood burning stoves and a much better option compared to open wood burning fireplaces.
Before buying any form of home heating appliance such as a pellet stove consider and weigh up all of the pros and cons that can include fuel sources, availability and costs, and combustion and heating efficiencies to understand whether a particular appliance will be more environmentally friendly option for your particular situation compared to another.
We chose to have a pellet stove installed in our living room over another form of stove or fireplace for a number of reasons and one of them was the ability for pellets stove to be extremely efficient and clean burning, with fewer emissions produced compared to other forms of wood burning appliance.