Carbon footprints, heating, and firewood

firewood

Our new home has a fireplace, and we just had a cord of wood delivered. They brought it in a small dumptruck, emptied it in the driveway, and while stacking it (hey, a cord is a LOT of wood to stack, 4x4x8, to be exact) was thinking about carbon footprints.

Firewood is a renewable resource, yet it leaves a carbon footprint when burned for heat. Hundreds of millions if not billions of people probably do this every day too.

However, a carbon footprint also has to take into considerable how the fuel source was prepared, and in that, firewood has a tiny footprint compared to natural gas, electric, or heating oil. The carbon produced by log cutting machines and chainsaws is miniscule compared to that of processing crude oil into fuelstocks. And of course, in many parts of the world, most if not all of the wood cutting is done manually, so there’s no footprint at all.

I wonder what the carbon footprint of burning wood in a fireplace is compared to, say, a heating oil furnace, as is common here in New England?