Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Your Environment and Masonry Heaters

There is continuous debate around the world about the significance and substance behind the issue of global warming.  And although most scientists around the world who study climate agree that global warming is occurring, I am not going to enter that debate here.

Rather, it is wise to look at the overall bigger picture.  I can remember as a grade-school student learning about various kinds of pollution.  We looked at everything from noise pollution (loud, disturbing sounds) to visual pollution (too many, or obnoxious blinking signs, etc.) to the more common air pollution and litter.

Pollution of any kind is a disturbance to most healthy people.  Really, who wants to walk down a sidewalk and see trash lying around everywhere?  Who would enjoy loud boisterous music when she is wanting a quiet stroll in the park?  And who would think the smell and appearance of smog is one of the benefits of living in a big city?

A disturbance like excess noise or smog doesn’t have to cause a specific illness in order to be unhealthy.  The mere fact that it is a disturbance makes it unhealthy for a given individual.  Indeed, loud, blasting music might be a pure pleasure for the one who turned on the radio, but it could raise the blood pressure of someone who was looking forward to a quiet day or who just doesn’t like that kind of music.

Of course, it can again become debatable as to just how harmful blinking lights or loud noises can be.  But there is pretty uniform acceptance that air pollution is a threat to everyone’s health.  Recent elections resulted in widespread prohibitions on smoking in public places all over Ohio.  It doesn’t take a scientist to realize that breathing all kinds of chemicals and particles not normally part of the natural atmosphere is going to have unhealthy results.

Regardless of your overall feelings about the various kinds of pollution and their impact on health and well-being, you should be aware that a masonry heater is one of the lowest impact ways of heating in the world when it comes to any kind of pollution.

Consider sound. A masonry heater burns for a few hours a day at a time of your choosing.  The resulting “noise” is the crackling of a real wood fire.  There are no motors, fans, or blowers vibrating and running on and off all day long.

Consider the materials.  A soapstone heater is just that – thousands of pounds of soapstone, an all-natural stone simply cut to the right shapes to make a heater.  Or a kachelofen is simply fired clay - hardened earth. This means waste is an all-natural bunch of minerals.  It also means that the product has low embodied energy – the amount of energy needed to produce the stove.

Consider air pollution and CO2 emissions.  Masonry heaters are the cleanest-burning woodburners in the world, burning its fuel at combustion efficiency approaching 100%.  This means that the exhaust of a masonry heater is mainly CO2 and water.  What’s more, the quantity of CO2 emitted is no more than what results from wood rotting in the forest.

                In short, masonry heaters are low-impact ways of heating that don’t depend on foreign oil or expensive electricity.  Masonry heaters are an intelligent choice for a cleaner, healthier, energy independent America.