Burn Cleaner, Burn Better - Natural Gas, Electric, Retrofit Devices

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When you 'Burn Cleaner, Burn Better', you’re making a healthy decision to improve the air we breathe. Best of all, these wood burning alternatives are acceptable to use on No Burn Days, and still provide an inviting, warm fire glow while reducing harmful smoke pollution. Here’s how they stack up:

BCBB Pollution Chart

Understanding the Alternatives Toolkit

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Wood Burning and You

Health Effects of Wood smoke

Burning wood in a fireplace, chiminea, or fire pit provides a warm cozy gathering place for families and friends during the holiday season. It also provides the perfect conditions for increased air pollution that can harm the ones you love. Maricopa County has higher levels of air pollution caused by wood burning smoke, especially during the winter months, causing the County to be at risk of not meeting federal health standards. If Maricopa County is unable to meet these health standards, the community may be subject to burdensome and costly federal regulations and stricter rules that could also mean higher fines.

Maricopa County Air Quality Department is asking Maricopa County residents and businesses to ‘Burn Cleaner, Burn Better.’ Instead of burning wood, you can Burn Cleaner, Burn Better and eliminate all particulate matter 2.5 (PM2.5 or smoke) emissions by converting your wood burning fireplace to natural gas. Other cleaner options include fireplace retrofit, certified wood stoves, pellet stoves, and/or electric fireplaces.

Certain outdoor fires are prohibited in parts of Maricopa County from May 1 through September 30, including fires used to clear land, fires for recreational use, and branding of animals. Other types of fires are allowed unless a restricted burn period has been declared.

Help protect the health of our residents, don’t burn wood when it is a No Burn Day. To learn the latest air quality forecast and No Burn Day status, you can download the Clean Air Mobile App, sign up for email or text alerts, visit Maricopa.gov/AQ each day, or call 602-506-6400.

Both short- and long-term exposures to particle pollution from wood smoke has been linked to a variety of health effects.

Short-term exposures to particles can aggravate lung disease, causing asthma attacks and acute bronchitis and may also increase susceptibility to respiratory infections. Long-term exposures (months or years) have been associated with problems such as reduced lung function and the development of chronic bronchitis and even premature death. Some studies also suggest that long-term PM2.5 exposures may be linked to cancer and to harmful developmental and reproductive effects, such as infant mortality and low birth weight.

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Understanding the alternatives

Natural Gas IconGas Fireplaces

Gas fireplaces (which include gas inserts, gas log sets, and self-contained vent-free units that don't require chimneys) are designed to burn either natural gas or propane. Maintenance is minimal compared to all the work associated with wood-burning fires. Gas fireplaces produce less air pollution than wood and are good for area heating.

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Fireplace Retrofit Devices 

A fireplace retrofit is a device that is installed into an existing wood-burning fireplace. The primary purpose of the retrofit is to reduce wood smoke pollution from existing fireplaces. If installed and operated properly, fireplace retrofit devices can reduce pollution by approximately 70%. 
Learn more about fireplace retrofits >>

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Electric Fireplaces

Electric fireplaces are a cheaper alternative to buying a gas insert or self-contained gas fireplace and do not require any installation. Electric fireplaces have zero emissions, no smoke! They are the most efficient ways to heat a room, which in turn, reduces energy costs. Parents also don’t have to worry about large flames or ashes flying from the fireplace near their children or pets.

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EPA-Certified Wood Stoves

If you choose to heat your home with wood, use the cleanest wood burning appliance possible. People heat their homes with a variety of appliances, either as a primary source of heat, as supplemental heat, or for ambiance. A wood stove is a type of wood heater that is usually made of cast iron or steel. Wood stoves that burn wood for fuel can be used as a primary or secondary source of heat. Learn more about choosing the right wood stove »

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Pellet Stoves

Pellet stoves are similar in appearance to wood stoves. However, instead of wood, pellet stoves burn a renewable fuel made of ground, dried wood and other biomass wastes compressed into pellets. Pellet stoves operate by pouring pellets into a hopper which feeds automatically into the stove. Unlike wood stoves and fireplaces, most pellet stoves need electricity to operate. Learn more about pellet stoves »

      Page reviewed 10 October 2023