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It is great to see in recent media articles that there has been a significant increase in stove sales over the last 12 months, some say as much as 20% although if manufacturers were able to get all the parts they needed, this figure would have been higher. However, we have seen this sort of increase before when gas prices have increased by so much. It’s at times like this when people start to realize that wood-burning stoves can provide a very cost-effective way to heat your home, not to mention the benefits of fuel security, particularly when Russia is invading Ukraine.

The recent announcement that the energy price cap will increase by £693 per year from April 1st for approx. 22 million customers, it does focus the mind on the fact that for the same money you could purchase 4.2m3 of kiln dried logs. On average I use about 3-4m3 per annum on my stove, using it most evenings and weekends from Oct to April.

As of January 1st, 2022, across Europe and the UK, it became law for manufacturers to only produce wood-burning stoves to Ecodesign standards, so if you are looking to buy a stove it is advisable to check the manufacturer meets the criteria. It is important to note that you can still buy old stock of non Ecodesign stoves, but the latest figures released by the  SIA (Stove Industry Alliance) say that 79% of all their stoves sold are already Ecodesign. The SIA represents over 80% of the UK market for stoves but do look out for their new clearSkies mark as this certification mark takes stoves beyond Eco-design standards, making them even more efficient. 

Want to know more? Take a look here: 

How does the clearSkies labelling work for wood burning stoves?

About 15 years ago, I put in a Harmony stove from Euroheat and have always loved its efficiency and look but last year I was keen to see how good these new stoves really are so decided to upgrade to a new Ecodesign stove, and oh my word, these new wood-burning stoves really are amazing. Mine was from Charnwood, who is based on the Isle of Wight, but in the farm bungalow we have put in one of Stovax’s excellent Chesterfield stoves also approved under Eco-design (pictured below) and it works a real treat. Stovax is based down in Exeter and the UK’s largest manufacturer of stoves and we are delighted to be working in partnership with them to plant more trees. To find out more about this campaign visit their website to support the #GreenBritain campaign.

These new stoves really are hugely impressive and according to the SIA, these appliances will emit approx. 80% fewer emissions than an old stove over 15 years old, and they also use a lot less fuel making them, even more, cost-effective to heat your home. You might think this is not good news for us as a firewood supplier, but I would rather more people had stoves that ran efficiently using a renewable, sustainable fuel, than using gas or oil, or dare I say it, open fires which are just not efficient. These Eco-design stoves are 90% more efficient than an open fire, so take note!

Whilst there continues to be some negative press about wood burning and there are even some minority groups in London such as Mums for Lungs and Clean Air for London that seem hell-bent on banning wood-burning stoves and the frustrating thing is that some of them are just not prepared to listen to the facts.

When it comes to facts, it was good news to read recent research commissioned by the SIA looking at the contribution of domestic outdoor burning to UK particulate matter emissions. You may remember that for a long time now and mentioned within the governments Clean Air Strategy in 2019 they stated that “Burning wood and coal in open fires and stoves makes up 38% of the UK’s primary emissions of fine particulate matter (PM2.5)”. Even Defra now agree that this figure has been significantly over-stated due to their miscalculation of the volume of firewood burnt each year. Back in 2015 Defra undertook a survey of just 1200 people and from this calculated an annual usage of firewood at nearly 6 million tonnes. In 2020 Defra commissioned further research run by Kantar and this found that the SIA estimate of 1.8m tonnes is far closer to reality. A piece on the front page of the Telegraph on 16th Feb 2022 finally states that wood burning stoves cause only half as much emissions as thought. This article takes its findings from this report released on 14th Feb by Defra on the ‘Emission of air pollutants in the UK -particulate matter (PM10 and PM2.5)

SIA outdoor burning research

The SIA also continues its funding of independent research to help gain a far better understanding of the real facts. A recent research project into the impact of outdoor burning suggests that 46% of ‘domestic wood burning’ emissions actually come from outdoor burning. Green waste, waste wood and rubbish combined are said to account for 90% of all outdoor burning emissions. The other 10% would come from firepits, pizza ovens and chimeneas etc. Originally, not only was Defra’s figure over stated, but it is now clear that half of the figure should actually be contributed to outdoor burning.

As a consequence of this research and more meaningful data it would seem that wood burning stoves that meet the new Ecodesign requirements, burning kiln dried logs only contribute 2.7% of PM2.5 emissions despite using 9% of the fuel. On the other hand, open fires contribute 39% of the emissions using 26% of the wood, which highlights the significant improvements in emissions from indoor sources that can be made by switching to an appliance that meets Ecodesign standards such as a clearSkies certified stove.

SIA sources of UK PM2.5 emissions by %

Further research is being undertaken by the SIA to look at the emissions from wood burning inside the home and judging by my recent monitoring at home, it is very unlikely to cause concern and certainly no more than any other normal home activities!! – More to follow

N. Snell

Feb 25th 2022