Home-heating emissions

  • Image, Home-heating emissions.

    2018 air indicators are now available

    Burning wood or coal for home heating emits a range of air pollutants. It is the main human-made source of particulate matter and a significant contributor of carbon monoxide. Exposure to these pollutants can damage health, with effects ranging from respiratory irritation to cancer. In 2013, 37 percent of homes burned wood and 4 percent burned coal for heating.

    We classified Home-heating emissions as a national indicator.

    Key findings

     Trend not assessed

    Estimated emissions of key pollutants from burning wood or coal for home heating decreased 1–53 percent between 2006 and 2013.

    • Estimated annual emissions decreased for:
      • particulate matter 10 micrometres or less in diameter (PM10), 24 percent
      • particulate matter 2.5 micrometres or less in diameter (PM2.5), 23 percent
      • nitrogen oxides (NOx), 1 percent
      • sulphur oxides (SOx), 53 percent
      • carbon monoxide (CO), 23 percent.
    • These decreases are a result of fewer homes burning wood or coal for heating and increased use of lower-emission wood burners.
    • Emissions from burning wood or coal from home heating varied across the country. Reasons for this include winter conditions, local regulations on options for home heating, ease of access to and the cost of wood, coal, or other heating sources.

    Figure 1

    Note: The left axis shows the estimated annual emissions for particulate matter 10 micrometres or less in diameter (PM10), particulate matter 2.5 micrometres or less in diameter (PM2.5), sulphur oxides (SOx), and nitrogen oxides (NOx). The right axis shows the estimated annual emissions for carbon monoxide (CO). Percentage changes show the change in emissions from 2006.

    Figure 2

    Note: PM10 – particulate matter 10 micrometres or less in diameter.

    Figure 3

    Note: A comparison in Auckland cannot be made because of changes to area boundaries in 2011 to create the Auckland super city. PM10 – particulate matter 10 micrometres or less in diameter.

    Figure 4

    Note: PM2.5 – particulate matter 2.5 micrometres or less in diameter.

    Figure 5

    Note: A comparison in Auckland cannot be made because of changes to area boundaries in 2011 to create the Auckland super city. PM2.5 – particulate matter 2.5 micrometres or less in diameter.

    Definition and methodology

    The proportions of homes using wood or coal for heating vary around the country. Generally, the use of wood and coal for home heating is greater in the South Island than in the North Island. The West Coast has the highest proportions (72 percent use wood, 56 percent use coal), compared with much lower proportions in Auckland (23 percent use wood, 2 percent use coal).

    Despite the decrease in emissions, burning wood or coal for home heating continues to be associated with air quality issues, including high levels of PM10, PM2.5, arsenic, and benzo(a)pyrene at some locations.

    Information about wood and coal use came from the 2006 and 2013 Censuses, which we combined with survey data on average fuel use and emission factors. Further assumptions were made for the 2006 estimates due to limited data, resulting in a greater degree of uncertainty.

    Data quality

    We classified Home-heating emissions as a national indicator.

    Relevance

     This national indicator is a direct measure of the ‘Emissions of key pollutants from residences’ topic. 

    Accuracy

    accuracy-high The accuracy of the data source is of high quality.

    See Data quality information for more detail.

     

    Updated 17 December 2015

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