How to reduce smoke pollution from your woodfire heater this winter

Published on 02 June 2022

Chimney smoke.jpeg

Council is encouraging woodfire heater owners to do what they can to reduce smoke in the community this winter.

Smoke pollution caused by woodfire heaters can impact the health and comfort levels of community members, and the issue is heightened this winter due to COVID-19 and influenza rates.

Community members most vulnerable to smoke pollution include those with heart or lung problems, pregnant women, young children, the elderly and smokers.  

There are many options available for woodfire heater owners to reduce the amount of smoke pollution they create both inside their own homes and for their neighbours, such as:

  • Prioritising alternative heat sources
  • Ensuring their wood heater meets Australian standards and fitted by a licensed installer
  • Before each winter, making sure the flue and baffle plate are clean
  • Ensure the wood being used is dry and seasoned
  • When setting your fire, leave around 2cm of ash at the base
  • To start your fire, use plenty of paper and dry kindling instead of large pieces of wood

More tips on using woodfire heaters correctly can be found on Environment Protection Authority (EPA) Victoria’s website.

Lyster Ward Councillor and Deputy Mayor, Johanna Skelton, said that reducing air pollution in Yarra Ranges was everyone’s responsibility.

“Many councils have banned wood heaters due to the health impacts on their residents, but for many of our residents wood heaters are still the most affordable and convenient way to keep warm,” Cr Skelton said.

“What we’re trying to do is spread the word on best practice wood heater use for those who still need to use them.

“I also encourage our community to look into other ways of heating their home and to engage with their neighbours about any problematic woodfire heater smoke. 

“They may not know how much you are impacted by, or vulnerable to the smoke, and may be open to hearing some of the tips and tricks that the EPA recommend.”

Council’s Public and Environmental Health team have recently partnered with the EPA to support a community-led action plan for smoke in Yarra Ranges.

“The project involved engaging with a number of local residents, passionate about air quality, who assisted in working on actions that the community can take to produce better outcomes for air quality in the Yarra Ranges,” Cr Skelton said.

“Our Public and Environmental Health Team have also updated their processes for investigating woodfire heater complaints and have been working with DELWP to advocate for better legislation and education options for the future. I hope this helps reduce illness for Yarra Ranges residents.”

For more information on air quality issues in Yarra Ranges, please visit https://www.yarraranges.vic.gov.au/Environment/Burning-off/Wood-heaters-burning-off-and-air-quality