Tighter emission and new efficiency controls
New heaters are cleaner burning and more efficient than older-style wood heaters and open fires.
A slow combustion heater will produce less pollution than a pot-belly stove or open fire because the fire is sealed in an airtight box.
As of 1 November 2016 more stringent emission and new efficiency controls were introduced in NSW in an amendment to the Clean Air Regulation (See the Protection of the Environment Operations (Clean Air) Regulation 2010). The Australian/New Zealand Standards 4012:2014 and 4013:2014 introduce more stringent emission limits and new efficiency limits for domestic solid fuel appliances in two stages:
- From 1 November 2016 all new solid fuel home heaters sold in NSW (locally and imported) must have at least 55 per cent efficiency and no more than 2.5 grams of particle emissions per kilogram of fuel burnt (g/kg)
- From 1 September 2019 all new solid fuel home heaters sold in NSW (locally and imported) must have at least 60 per cent efficiency and no more than 1.5 g/kg.
Check your heater has a compliance plate stating it conforms to the Australian Standard for pollution emissions (AS/NZS 4013:2014) and efficiency (AS/NZS 4012:2014). If it doesn't you might consider upgrading your heater to a newer more efficient model.
Contact your local council to check on local regulations before installing a wood heater.
Some councils keep a register of licensed installers who will certify heaters are installed to the standard. There may also be special considerations in choosing a suitable chimney for your local area.
EPA guidelines - domestic solid fuel heaters
Poor heater selection, installation and operation are the main causes of air pollution from wood heaters.
To help local councils combat these problems, EPA produced the comprehensive Guidelines on Selecting, Installing and Operating Domestic Solid Fuel Heaters (PDF 109KB).
To minimise the effect of smoke on your neighbours, EPA recommends the top of a chimney should be at least one metre higher than any other building within a 15 metre radius.
Topography can play a big part in the dispersion of wood smoke so if you live on a steep hill, for example, there may be other considerations.
Contact your local council for advice or see the 'Site suitability and chimney height' section of the EPA's Guidelines on Selecting, Installing and Operating Domestic Solid Fuel Heaters (PDF 109KB).