Why Bri­tain is warm­ing to the ben­e­fits of wood­burn­ing stoves

It’s the hot new trend and no won­der when en­ergy prices are set to go through the roof. Sharon Dale re­ports.

Yorkshire Post - Property - - PROPERTY -

FASH­ION is fickle and some­times point­less, but the lat­est in­te­rior must-have doesn’t just look and feel good, it makes per­fect sense.

Sales of wood­burn­ing stoves have been fu­elled by ris­ing en­ergy bills and the fear of power cuts. HE­TAS, the in­dus­try reg­u­la­tory body, say a record 175,000 house­holds are in­stalling a wood­burner each year, five times more than in 2007.

The bid to re­duce gas and elec­tric con­sump­tion and be­come self-suf­fi­cient in the face of short­ages is un­der­stand­able. The cost of burn­ing wood is 4p per kw hour, while gas is 5p and elec­tric­ity 15p.

The pay-off isn’t just fi­nan­cial, the spin-off ben­e­fits are a real fire and a cosi­ness that con­vected heat and gas-fired flames can’t match.

Here, Ben Free­man, HE­TAS qual­i­fied engi­neer and co-owner of heat­ing spe­cial­ist BMF, Leeds, an­swers some burn­ing ques­tions:

A: Prices vary hugely, from around £550 to over £10,000. But don’t be tempted to skimp. As with most things, you get what you pay for.

A good qual­ity stove, treated cor­rectly, should look as good and work as ef­fi­ciently in 20 years as it does to­day. A cheap stove will quickly start to show wear and tear.

Prices will also vary due to the size of the stove, which will de­pend on what out­put you re­quire – for ex­am­ple, whether the stove is heat­ing the whole house or just one room.

A: Make sure you choose a pro­fes­sional, HE­TAS-reg­is­tered in­staller, as they are the only ones qual­i­fied to in­stall solid fuel ap­pli­ances.

Don’t au­to­mat­i­cally go for the cheap­est price, ask the in­staller to out­line ex­actly what needs do­ing to en­sure they will cover ev­ery­thing you need. At a min­i­mum, it would cost around £220, but it will vary hugely de­pend­ing on how much prepa­ra­tion work is re­quired.

You should be is­sued with a HE­TAS cer­tifi­cate for your in­stal­la­tion, which is the le­gal doc­u­men­ta­tion you re­quire.

A: If you don’t have a chim­ney don’t worry, one can usu­ally be built.

Even if you have an ex­ist­ing chim­ney or flue, it can be too big, small, short, tall, cold or un­sound which will mean ei­ther your stove will work in­ef­fi­ciently or can be un­safe.

Gen­er­ally, when an in­stal­la­tion takes place, it will need to in­clude lin­ing any ex­ist­ing chim­ney, but take spe­cial­ist ad­vice on any fur­ther work which may be needed.

A: With the ever in­creas­ing prices of elec­tric­ity and gas, you will eas­ily save money in terms of fuel, but how much ex­actly will de­pend on how you source your wood.

If you have an en­ergy-ef­fi­cient heat­ing sys­tem a stove will re­duce the de­mand on your boiler.

Wood­burn­ing stoves can even heat the whole house. This can be achieved by back boiler in­stal­la­tion con­nected in con­junc­tion with your cen­tral heat­ing sys­tem or us­ing ducted hot air to be fanned through­out your prop­erty.

A: You can buy ready to burn kiln-dried wood, and on av­er­age this will cost about £150 per m3.

You can also source your own fuel, if you have the room and time to “sea­son” (ie dry) it, which can take up to two years. This is con­sid­er­ably more cost-ef­fec­tive at around £40 per m3 but wood or fuel with a high wa­ter con­tent may cause a dan­ger­ous build-up in your chim­ney. The wood for stoves needs to be kept dry and ven­ti­lated. If there is no room for a ded­i­cated wood store, many peo­ple use a garage, shed or even a wa­ter­tight box in the gar­den.

A: Wood­burn­ing stoves, as the name sug­gests, burn wood, whereas multi-fuel can also burn coal and smoke­less fuel.

Choos­ing which is right for you de­pends on your home, your heat re­quire­ment, and your own pref­er­ences. If you are un­sure on which fuel suits you best then chat with your re­tailer.

A: Many mod­ern stoves now come with clean­burn tech­nol­ogy, which helps keep the glass clean by blow­ing su­per hot air down it, re­duc­ing the amount of clean­ing re­quired.

Of course ashes do need re­mov­ing from time to time, but usu­ally once a week rather than daily com­pared with open fires. Your chim­ney should be cleaned an­nu­ally by a pro­fes­sional to make sure there’s no build-up and to en­sure safety .

A: Ide­ally you should only burn sea­soned, dry, un­treated wood, un­less you have a multi-fuel stove.

If you burn rub­bish or treated wood you risk re­leas­ing harm­ful chem­i­cals and caus­ing a nasty build-up in your stove or chim­ney. Some pa­per is fine and can help to get the fire go­ing, but stick to plain news­pa­pers or pa­per with­out any plas­tic el­e­ment, and don’t overdo it.

Re­mem­ber, burn­ing any fuel can pro­duce deadly carbon monox­ide (CO), so it is vi­tal you fol­low stan­dard safety tips.

BMF has a fire­place and wood­burn­ing stove show­room in Moor­town, Leeds. For more in­for­ma­tion, visit www. bm­fon­line.co.uk or call 0113 2660096.

The Sto­vax Riva costs £1,685 from BMF, Leeds; wood­burn­ing inset stove, £2276, from HWAM; log bas­ket, £36, from Gra­ham and Green and kin­dling bucket, £18.50 from Cox and Cox. Sales of wood burn­ing stoves con­tinue to soar fu­elled by ris­ing gas and elec­tric­ity bill and fears of fu­ture power short­ages. They also look good and cre­ate a cosy home.

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