Wood Burning vs. Natural Gas: No Contest
Families for Clean Air recently received a letter that asked for references backing up our assertion that the emissions from EPA-certified wood stoves are greater than those from devices that burn natural gas. This information is available from many sources, including the US EPA, but we think the chart below from the Puget Sound Clear Air Agency illustrates the point in a clear and simple manner (you may click on the image to enlarge):
As bad as this chart may make things look for wood burning devices, we’d like to note that it actually makes the relative performance of wood burning stoves seem more favorable than it actually is. First, the emissions of wood burning stoves are tested under laboratory conditions that bear only a passing relationship to how they are likely to actually be used in the real world. Second, studies have shown that the performance of EPA-certified wood stoves can deteriorate over time.
Thus, the wood stove data probably reflect ‘best case scenario’ stove performance in laboratory conditions.
Any way you slice it, it’s clear that gas burns much more cleanly than wood, leading to less particulate pollution.