To burn or not to burn?

…that is the question, thanks to statistics that show that traditional domestic wood burners are now the single biggest source of small particle air pollution in the UK. However, if you want a wood or multi fuel burning stove without the eco-impact, read on.

Government data shows that, whilst only 8% of the population have wood burning stoves, these stoves produce three times more pollution than road traffic; but the new generation of burners are employing technology specifically designed to curb this trend.

Small particle pollution is a major cause for concern, as it can enter the bloodstream and travel around the body, lodging in the internal organs. Because of this worrying fact, the government have introduced a total ban on the retail sale of ‘wet wood’ (green wood) and a gradual ban on retail coal sales, which will be in full force by 2023.

This move to dry wood and other solid fuels means that people can still have the warmth and ambience of traditional stoves in their homes, whilst minimising the impact of small particle pollution, but there’s so much more that can be done simply by choosing to buy good quality stoves from a reputable supplier.

Clean Burn Technology

New stoves must be 2022 Ecodesign compliant, meaning that they will have passed stringent Ecodesign and Defra Approved emissions tests. The term ‘clean burn’ refers to the system by which a fresh supply of oxygen is introduced into the stove, and this oxygen allows extra gases to be burnt instead of escaping into the surrounding environment. This means that not only are potentially harmful gases safely utilised (referred to as secondary combustion), but also that the stove itself gives off more heat with less fuel, making it more efficient and cost effective. This process is accentuated by pulling the air through channels adjacent to the firebox, thus heating the air itself.

Within the UK there are several ‘smoke control areas’ – in which it is illegal to use certain combustibles. However, many clean burn stoves are approved for use in these areas because their emissions are so much lower. You can ask your supplier about approved models, and can contact your local council to see if you are in a smoke control area. You should also ensure that the fuel you are using is approved and of a sufficiently high quality.

Air Wash Technology

Air wash technology is another innovation designed to increase efficiency in your burner, but this also has an aesthetic impact: with Air wash, a flow of air is pulled into the stove via a vent above the glass panel. This air is forced down over the glass, washing away soot and keeping the glass door from blackening. This means that you have less maintenance to do and can always see the flames inside the stove, which is a big part of the draw with wood burners.

Other Considerations

Once you’ve decided on getting a wood or multi fuel burner, you need to start considering which model you want, and it’s here that aesthetics really come into play. There are a lot of options available, so you needn’t worry that your stove won’t match your décor. Stoves can be traditional or contemporary, small or large and a variety of shapes and styles.

One thing that should influence you is heat output, and this will be based on the size of the area you wish to heat. In order to heat your room to around 21 degrees C when it’s 0 degrees outside you would need approximately 1kw of heat output for every 14 cubic metres of space. For example, a room that is 5m x 5m x 3m high gives 75 cu.m of space. Divide this by 14 and you get 5.3 which, rounded down, would mean you require a 5kW stove. This may vary if you have larger than average windows/double glazing etc, but your supplier can advise you on any details. You also need to decide if you want your stove to heat water as well as air, and what sort of hearth you require (it should be big enough to ensure that any fallen fuel or embers land on it and not the surrounding flooring.

So should you go for it?

Stoves are a gorgeous, cosy heating solution. They make a fantastic focal piece and an excellent selling point should you ever move. As long as you bear in mind the type and quality of the stove, and ensure that it conforms to the necessary ecological standards and legislation, then a wood or multi fuel stove is a sound investment and a splendid addition to your home.

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