Use wood heaters correctly for safe, clean air


On the first day of winter it’s time to remember how to ‘Burn Right Tonight’, or consider switching from wood burners to a less polluting alternative for your heating.

“After the horrific smoke from burning forests during the Black Summer fires, Canberra is back to enjoying very good air quality. But smoke from household wood heaters remains the main source of air pollution during winter,” said Minister for the Environment, Rebecca Vassarotti.

“Maintaining good air quality is an environmental priority, a health priority, and after the trauma of the 2019 fires, a mental health priority in our community as well.

“This is an empowering opportunity for Canberrans to cut wood smoke pollution, look after your local environment, and look after the health of your neighbours all over this region,” Minister Vassarotti said.

The long-running ‘Burn Right Tonight’ campaign highlights several ways to use wood heaters effectively:

  • use dry, well-seasoned, untreated wood bought from a reputable firewood merchant
  • start fires with the air control fully open, using plenty of kindling
  • use smaller logs to maintain a vigorous fire
  • don’t let your fire smoulder overnight.

Following these tips will improve our air quality, save you money and keep your home warm this winter. For more hints, visit the Environment website.

“I am also encouraging ACT residents to replace their wood heaters with more environmentally friendly alternatives such as electric systems. Rebates up to $1,250 are available to have household wood heaters removed and replaced,” Minister Vassarotti said.

As part of Actsmart’s Wood Heater Replacement Program, 128 claims have been made from the wood heater replacement program in the last five years. 1228 rebates to have wood heaters replaced or removed have been claimed since the Wood Heater Replacement Program began in 2004.

Between 1 July 2020 and 7 May 2021, 31 rebates have been claimed under the ACT Wood Heater Replacement Program to replace or remove wood heaters.

The ACT Government has a range of programs to address wood smoke. These include public education and enforcement activities, the regulation of commercial firewood to ensure it is sold in a seasoned condition, regulation of emissions and efficiency standards for wood heaters sold in the ACT, the Wood Heater Replacement Program to remove old inefficient wood heaters, and the annual Burn Right Tonight public education campaign to provide advice on the correct operation of wood heaters to minimise emissions.

All of these initiatives have put the ACT at the forefront nationally in addressing wood smoke pollution and have resulted in a significant improvement in our air quality in the last decade.

To date the installation of wood heaters has been restricted in Dunlop, East O’Malley and the Molonglo Valley (except Wright) where planning studies show that they would have an adverse impact on air quality.

For more information on the ACT Government’s Wood Heater Replacement Program, visit the Actsmart website