The autumn months are upon us. The leaves are changing, there’s a crispness to the air, pumpkins a-plenty are being harvested for the spooky season, the nights draw in a lot sooner, and it gradually gets a much more temperate outside.
Earlier this year it was officially announced burning coal in UK homes will be banned in 2021. Although the decision was 18 months in the making, it should come as little surprise to anyone that the government is intending to ban fuels that contribute significantly to the UK’s air pollution.
There are some very solid reasons for choosing a wood burning stove over gas or electric, but the main advantages are environmental and economic.
Wood is renewable and a clean burning fuel, especially when comparing a self-contained home stove with using energy from power stations running on fossil fuels. Oil and gas are not renewable, but when trees are harvested, so saplings are planted in their place, meaning that the environmental benefits of the plantation continues.
The carbon neutral benefits of using firewood to heat the home, and for cooking, are massive. The Forestry Commission has advised that the area of the country comprising woodland should be increased from four per cent to 16 per cent. Using a wood burning stove can reduce your carbon footprint by more than 70 per cent, compared to 55 per cent for a flue gas fire, 32 per cent for an open gas fire and zero for an electric fire.
It is clear from these figures that firewood burning stoves are best for the environment when compared with gas or electric heating, but their use has other environmental benefits. For instance, foraging and using renewable energy will teach children practical lessons about the planet and its future.
Wood burning stoves have economic advantages over other types of fuel, as well. Burning wood works out at approximately three pence per kilowatt hour. Gas and oil cost around twice as much, while electricity costs more than five times, on average, than a wood burning stove.
Installation of a wood burning stove involves an outlay, naturally, but so does the installation of a gas or electric central heating system. Once installed, a wood burning stove will require little or no maintenance and its fuel is either inexpensive or even free. To be rid of gas heating bills and not having to worry about using too much expensive energy will be of great benefit through the years, a wood burning stove will last for generations, and save homeowners thousands of pounds in the process.
With the growth of the internet, many more people these days choose to work from home. Using an inexpensive wood burning stove for warmth in the daytime will save hundreds every year on gas bills.
As well as foraging in woodland for free fuel, there are other sources for firewood. Joinery companies and timber merchants will have a lot of waste wood, which may just go in a bin and be used for landfill. It can do no harm to ask the local companies who work with wood if you can take their off-cuts off their hands, doing each other a favour.
Wood burning stoves may need to be cleaned out when they are cold, which takes a little time, but they also provide a comfort that just isn’t possible with other fuels. Just to have a glowing stove in the kitchen or living room warms the heart as well as the hands. Who wants to sit at home on a chilly winter’s evening and stare at a radiator?
One of life’s greatest pleasures, when you have to endure the UK’s winter weather, is to come home and shut the door behind you to the welcome of a wood burning stove. Just to see its glow and immediately feel the warmth quickly banishes the elements outside. But it would be a waste to confine all this welcome warmth to just one room, which is why most homeowners with wood burning stoves choose to use their power to heat the whole of the property. Choosing this form of heating has many benefits.
There is no other fuel, apart from firewood, that is free, either foraged from public land or donated by friendly neighbours. Even when bought from a commercial supplier, wood burning for home heating still has advantages over alternative supplies, both in cost and for saving energy.
Although using wood for stoves will require a little more effort than for those using ready-bought pellets or chips, the satisfaction from preparing the fuel is priceless. Trees are now planted in great numbers to offset the lack of oxygen that is given out, and the amount of carbon dioxide consumed, by harvested trees.
Research by the Energy Saving Trust shows that as much as £800 per year can be saved when switching from electric storage heaters to wood burning stoves to keep the home warm, around £130 if switching from oil systems and between £300 to almost £500 if changing from coal fuel. While the installation of a home heating system powered by a wood burning stove may initially come at a price, the money saved over time will repay the outlay and pay a premium afterwards.
The government launched the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) in 2011 to provide initiatives and encouragement for both domestic and non-domestic users to consider renewable heat sources. As usual with government information, it is not easy for the layman to decipher, but it is worth spending some time browsing their site, https://www.ofgem.gov.uk, for information. The majority of homes should qualify, and if your home does meet the needs of the scheme, you can feel satisfied that you have saved cash and helped the environment a little.
Time and effort saving
Installing a wood burning stove system to heat your property, whether domestic or non-domestic, will put you firmly in charge. There should be no need for emergency call-outs, as with gas, oil or electric systems failing, no need for engineers who may charge you what they feel like charging, because a wood burning system is so simple to install and maintain that the whole family or company can feel confident using it. Of course, the system, and most importantly the stove, need to be kept clean and well-maintained, but the only other work that needs to be carried out regularly is making sure that there is enough wood drying out in the shed, so that there is a constant, comforting glow in the kitchen all year round, and all the warmth it gives.