WSpare the Air was formed in 1991 by the Bay Area Air Quality Management District to inform residents when the air quality is forecast to be harmful and to share information on ways to decrease air pollution. No Burn Days are also called “Winter Spare the Air” days.

In 2008, the Air District approved a rule that makes it illegal to burn firewood on days once a Winter Spare the Air alert is in effect. This guideline was adopted to protect public health.

During winter months, wood smoke is the major source of air pollution in the Bay Area, accounting for more than one-third of fine particulate substance pollution. On cool, peaceful days when there is an inversion layer of warm air acting as a cover over a layer of cold air, wood smoke can build up at ground level to harmful concentrations. 

There are numerous things residents can do to decrease their impact on air quality over the winter, when these weather conditions endure. The first line of protection is to limit usage of wood-burning stoves, and ideally switch over to a different heating method, such as gas, or EPA-certified wood stoves.

Check for Alerts Before You Burn

Never fail to spot an alert by signing up for Winter Spare the Air Alerts. Modify your alert for text, email, or phone call. Winter Spare the Air Alerts will as well be posted to the Spare the Air and Air District websites and social media.

Keep in Compliance

Besides avoiding burning wood on Winter Spare the Air Days, there are additional provisions in the wood-burning rule.

Wood-burning devices are forbidden in new buildings constructed in the Bay Area. Gas-fueled fireplace, gas inserts, and electrical fireplaces are acceptable.

We want you to stay warm this winter, but make sure you first check if that day is a “no burn day” by visiting the Spare the Air website.

Gas Fireplace, Wood Burning Fireplace, Which is the Better Fireplace, Orinda Chimney Service, Oakland Chimney Service, Pleasant Hill Chimney ServiceIf you are building a home or renovating, you may be hoping to add the ambience of a fireplace.  This can give you a cozy setting for winter days.  Fireplaces are popular among buyers, so having one could increase your property values.  While you may be sure about your choice to add a fireplace, you may be more uncertain about whether to add a gas or wood burning fireplace.  There are many points to consider in making this choice:

Advantages of a Wood Burning Fireplace

The major advantage of a wood burning fireplace is that it presents the traditional appearance we would envision.  The vision of flames dancing over logs is also accompanied by the crackle of wood burning sounds and that rustic smoky smell.  Many homeowners enjoy the ambience and effect of a wood burning fireplace.  Sitting by a wood burning fire on a cold fall or winter day is really what many people dream of when the word ‘fireplace’ is mentioned.

Disadvantages of a Wood Burning Fireplace

Wood burning fireplaces require wood as fuel obtained either by chopping it yourself or by purchasing it.  Wood burning fireplaces require clean-up and maintenance to keep them working safely. Unfortunately, despite their impressive appearance and ambience, wood burning fireplaces are exceptionally inefficient, wasting much of the heat produced through the chimney. Wood burning fireplaces are also not environmentally friendly, contributing to smoke pollution while providing little heat.

Advantages of a Gas Burning Fireplace

A major advantage of gas fireplaces is their ease of use.  Starting a fire simply takes the flip of a switch.  Cleaning up a gas fireplace is also exceptionally easy, compared to wood burning fireplaces.  Gas fireplaces generally require less maintenance than wood burning fireplaces, although it is recommended to have a professional occasionally review it to prevent malfunction. Gas fireplaces produce no smoke, and their construction generally helps to conserve heat and energy in the home.

Disadvantages of a Gas Burning Fireplace

A gas burning fireplace, requires access to a natural gas line.  If you do not currently have a natural gas line to your home, it could be difficult and costly to install.  Gas fireplaces may give some of the visual appeal of a wood burning fireplace, but they may feel less authentic.

As you can see, gas and wood burning fireplaces each present their own advantages and disadvantages.  Overall, wood burning fireplaces give more traditional ambience.  However, their environmental side-effects and inefficiency provide a huge drawback. Converting your wood burning fireplace to a wood burning insert or stove provides relatively better efficiency.  In contrast, gas fireplaces are easier to use, cleaner, more efficient and they typically require less maintenance.  However, gas fireplaces don’t create the traditional sights, sounds, and smells associated with a wood burning fireplace.

A fireplace specialist can help you decide which option is best for you.  They can also help you learn more about the care and maintenance of your new fireplace so you get the greatest efficiency and the best results for your home.