As I sat and watched the Brit Awards last night to see Adele sweep the boards and Justin Bieber sing behind a wall of flames I pondered over my conversations yesterday with one of our retailers.
The call was all about the recent negative press and BBC coverage on wood burning following the report on Air Pollution by The Royal College of Physicians and Royal College of Pediatrics and Child Health. Several customers had rung this retailer expressing their concerns about wood burning and its potential risks. Should they be shutting it down, removing it and the logs that fuel it?
It is just like so many things reported by the press these days, they twist the words and quickly slant the article to make something appear life threatening to your health and fear soon spreads.
As a member of the Stove Industry Alliance, the industry body representing the stove industry, I have read this recent Air Pollution report, or to be honest, parts of it, and to be fair it is thought to be a very balanced report, but in the 106 page report there are only very limited references to wood burning, and as you can imagine road transport plays a massive part. There are many forms of pollutants affecting air pollution and the report looks at every aspect and makes recommendations as to how best to tackle the issues.
In the UK, we are a far cry away from the 1940’s and 50’s when there were only a few cars on the road, coal fired power stations, and a nation with open coal fires when undoubtedly solid fuel will have been a major contributor to air pollutants. In 2012 road traffic in the UK was ten times higher than in 1949 and the total distance walked each year decreased by 30% between 1995 and 2013.
As an industry, we are acutely aware of the potential issues regarding wood burning and conscious also that many of these negative reports about wood burning stem from some historic research and the focus on wood burning is more about open fires.
The industry has moved on dramatically over recent years and wood burning stoves have improved hugely in terms of their efficiency and the Stove Industry Alliance is working hard with Government and other stakeholders to ensure that any concerns in respect of the Clean Air Act are met and indeed exceeded by the stove industry.
Just remember that not only are there approx. 200,000 wood burning stoves sold each year, their efficiency is far greater than ever before and one would assume that in many cases they actually replace open fires.
So, finally to fuel quality which is probably not mentioned enough. One of the biggest problems for wood burning stoves and a contributor to pollutants is the fuel used. In the majority of instances people are still not using wood which is dry enough and you will notice smoke coming from chimneys across the valley on a cold winter’s morning. This might be because it’s from an open fire but more likely because the wood is not dry enough and we all know how much damp wood smokes.
If you really want to be efficient wood burners at home for that lovely warm and cosy feeling and happy in the knowledge that you are having little or no effect on air pollutants, make sure you not only have a wood burning stove, but that it’s modern, up to date, efficient, approved and fitted by a HETAS approved fitter, but also that you use kiln dried wood that is dried to below 20% moisture content. This will ensure the cleanest of burns and the most efficient in terms of combustion and heat – happy days!