One of the first jobs we did in our ongoing (yes we are still going) property renovation was to check out wood burning stoves and get one installed. Life with no radiators was a little chilly so it was a perfect solution to our heating problem – and wood burning stoves are beautiful to look at too.
It wasn’t an immediate decision – we were toying with the idea of wood burning stoves but were unsure of cost and did not really know that much about them.
To start with, we knocked out and supported the fireplace, had the chimney swept and then did a test fire. We bought an old fire basket and some wood, and proudly sat back as we watched our first fire sparkle into life. Five minutes later a loud knock at the door and some very unhappy neighbours – the smoke was pouring into their house!
This was when we knew we needed to get it sorted and the chimney would need properly lining if we were to use it again. Once lined, we discovered that the fire was a let-down – it did not really provide any heat and just a whole lot of smoke so we decided if we wanted to have a fire regularly to heat our home, wood burning stoves would be the answer.
Using our wood burning stove we can heat the one room in our house where we spend most of our time. We now have the heating off in the rest of the house most of the time and now that I have worked out how to scavenge bits of wood rather than buying logs we are at last saving money from our wood burning stove investment!
Top tips to find wood for wood burning stoves
- Find a local joinery to source wasted wood and off-cuts
- Go to the tip – you wont believe how much wood waste is thrown out, just make sure it doesn’t have paint on it
- Be prepared to hunt for wood – there are lots of dead trees out there waiting to be rescued
When scavenging for wood be careful that it hasn’t been treated for outdoor use, such as fence posts as it can contain arsenic and also avoid wood treated with halogens, chlorine, fluorine and bromine, or treated with heavy metals.
Consider using EcoBrics which are made of compressed sawdust, have the same energy value as brown coal equivalents, with one-third of the water content and a fraction of the ash and sulphur emissions.
Advice on buying wood burning stoves
Wood burning stoves are, as the name implies, stoves used solely for burning wood. Wood burning stoves have no grate or ash pan, wood is simply burnt on the base of the stove, usually in the bed of ash from the night before. This means that wood-burning stoves can fit more logs inside than the equivalent sized multi-fuel stove (which is what I have).
Wood burning stoves are generally cleaner than using coal and wood is a renewable fuel source which is carbon neutral, so is friendlier to the environment.
It is always good practice to line a chimney when fitting stoves, whether wood burning stoves or multi-fuel stoves, and you need to use registered installers to fit woodstoves as they fall under Building Regulations.
When you are deciding which of the wood burning stoves to buy, you need to work out:
- a) Will it fit?b) Will it heat the space?c) Are you in a smoke control area?d) Which direction is the prevailing wind? If it blows back down the chimney you may need to fit a vent.
So how do you know if your choice of wood burning stove will heat the space? When buying wood burning stoves you need to know how much heat output they need to heat the room you want it in. Our friend at Nature’s Power have a great tool to work out what heat output and ultimately what wood burning stoves you can get to heat your room.
Smoke free zone
Even if you live in a smoke-controlled area, there’s nothing to stop you joining the wood burning revolution. Most wood burning stoves can’t be used to burn wood in smoke-controlled areas – but there are a growing number considered to be so super-clean-burning they are given an exemption from the wood burning controls. Clean burning wood burning stoves are more expensive than standard models, potentially 50% more.
And did you know, they say that the emissions from wood burning stoves are three to four times less than with an open fire. For a list of the councils that impose controls go to – Smoke Control Areas.
Why buy wood burning stoves?
Wood burning stoves are hot property at the moment. From traditional use in country cottages to cutting edge architecture, they are the latest fad in green heat and with the high oil prices and eco concerns there is extra demand for wood burning stoves, but are they really eco-friendly?
Everyone likes an open fire, but the efficiency of burning logs in a grate is very low (20-25 per cent efficient). An open fire has to suck a lot of the (warm) air out of the room, and it is replaced by cold air from outside.
But modern wood burning stoves can run at over 80 per cent efficiency. So if you put your logs in a stove instead of on a fire you will benefit from at least three times the amount of heat.
Wood is the original carbon-neutral fuel. It releases carbon dioxide when it’s burnt, but the amount given off is the same as was stored by the tree when it was growing. I found out that if the tree was left to rot in the woods it would produce the same amount of carbon emissions released by burning!
Most firewood in this country comes from sustainable sources, so for every tree cut down another is planted, and the carbon released from the felled tree will be absorbed by another tree.
Both in terms of smoke and the amount of ash produced for the owner to clean up, modern wood burners are very impressive. And if the stove has self-cleaning air-wash glass a clear view of flickering flames is guaranteed.
Wilson Bailey Burners
Wood burning stoves just became a whole lot more exciting with the Wilson Bailey Burners Chameleon Range. I was lucky enough to meet Mark Wilson at Grand Designs Live. He set up the wood burning stove business that is changing the face of this industry for people buying wood burning stoves.
“Built by high-quality craftsmen to exacting standards, our striking wood burning stoves offer more than 2,000 combinations, so you can put together the look and style that best suits your living space.”
“What’s more, with plenty of choice from new legs and handles, to different colours and doors, you can alter the look of your burner whenever it takes your fancy. This amount of ‘custom-styling’ is an industry first, providing a huge selection of options to suit the tastes and needs of every customer. Don’t hold back, get creative!”
“Using the latest technology, we’ve worked hard to ensure our burner is one of the greenest on the market, which means that you benefit from fuel savings too” – visit Wilson Bailey Burners.
I love my wood burning stove – it might not add value to my home per se but it can help saleability and used correctly wood burning stoves will help warm your home.