Wood burning stoves have many benefits – they are cheap to run, provide an efficient source of heat and offer a beautiful focal point for a room. However, perhaps the main advantage of modern woodburners that has been put forward in recent years is how good they are for the environment.
The “green” benefits of burning wood are gaining wider and wider support. Burning the fuel cleanly only releases the same amount of CO2 into the atmosphere from a tree as when it is left to rot naturally as it would do at the end of its lifecycle. What is more, harvested trees are replaced with new trees, which in turn absorb CO2 in the process of photosynthesis as they grow.
The important aspect of this argument is that the wood is burnt correctly, using a modern, efficient stove that employs secondary and even tertiary burning. As a result of these extra burning systems, as much of the combustible material as possible is used to generate heat.
To get the best from any wood burning stove it is important that the wood which you burn has a moisture content of less than 20% – otherwise some of the heat is wasted boiling the water in the wood instead of generating warmth. In fact burning wood with a moisture level of below 20% will give twice the heat output of freshly felled timber, and will also help to reduce a build-up of tar in your flue.
To achieve this correct moisture level, the wood needs to be “seasoned”, ie, kept for about two years. So a decent outside storage unit is advisable – something that will allow an airflow over the wood but also keep it dry. It would also be sensible to ensure that the storage unit is secure – wood burning is becoming more popular, so a pile of chopped seasoned wood is becoming a more valuable asset! You can visit our “How to identify good firewood” information page and a blog on “The difference between kiln dried or seasoned logs” for more information on these topics.
What is more, if you opt for a local supply of wood, the environmental argument for woodburners is further supported because the impact of transportation is reduced as there is less dependence on oil or gas or woodchips being imported from other countries.
And it’s not just direct heat to a room that a stove can provide. If the stove has a back boiler, it can generate domestic hot water and supply heat to radiators in other parts of a house. What is more, there are also solid fuel cookers available on the market, such as the Wamsler range, which can also direct heat towards a radiator system and a domestic hot water supply as well provide for all your cooking needs. Link up your wood burning system to some solar panels on your roof, then come rain or shine you can produce cheap, carbon-neutral electricity, warmth and hot water to power your home.
Imagine that: your heating, hot water and cooking needs provided for – and a contribution towards your electricity requirements… all generated in your home by you. No need for you solely to rely on oil, gas and electricity being supplied by outside sources; you in control of your heat and hot water… and a pleasant surprise when you come to survey your monthly energy bills.
As for finding the right stove to suit the surroundings of your living area, there is now a huge range of styles and sizes available. Traditional or modern they are all designed with the same result in mind: to make a fire more efficient without losing any of the visual impact of real flames, so maintaining a hearth as a pleasing focal point in any room.
And with the advances in smoke-controlled stove design you can now have a woodburner in the middle of a city as easily as you can have one in the middle of the country. Every home from a small terraced house in a built-up area to a grand mansion set amongst rolling hills can enjoy the benefits of wood burning.
So there you have it: switching to a wood burning stove is a simple step that does a bit to save the planet and a lot to save you money… you’ll be better off financially and, if you’ll forgive the pun, left feeling a contented warm glow.
If you are interested in finding out more about wood burning stoves, please visit your local Stovax retailer. You can also follow our online guide on choosing the right wood burning stove for your home.