The Government, the stove industry and log suppliers are keen to demonstrate how updating your woodburning stove to a new, quality appliance, and burning good wood, can make a significant positive impact on our air quality.
Firstly, let’s take a look at the wood being burnt, and importantly, where it comes from. A healthy woodland needs to be well-managed, which involves thinning smaller, weaker trees. This allows the others more light exposure, which; in turn, allows them to grow and expand. The thinnings can be used for firewood, which means managing woodland this way makes wood a renewable and sustainable fuel. Not only does this make the land we live on greener, but can also provide a viable fuel for heating our homes. However, a combination of the right wood and the right stove is essential for minimising emissions.
If you purchase your firewood, it is essential to opt for wood that bears the Woodsure ‘Ready to Burn’ label, as this certifies that the wood has been dried to optimum moisture levels. On the other hand, if you are collecting your own firewood, this must be dried to the recommended moisture levels of 15 to 20%. You can check the levels of your firewood by using a moisture meter.
The problem with burning wood that is wet or high in moisture content, such as freshly felled timber, is that much of the energy created by the fire is wasted on boiling the water within the wood, rather than heating the room. Aside from this, burning wet wood results in poor combustion, resulting in increased emissions, and the production of tars and creosote. This can not only damage a flue and your appliance but also increases the risk of chimney fires.
When burning wood that has been dried to optimum moisture levels, the energy created by a fire is focused on producing heat and is used more efficiently – and when using the right stove or fire, the emissions are reduced further.
Michael Coke, Senior Development Engineer at Stovax, says that: “One of the best ways to help our environment when it comes to burning solid fuel is to consider the appliance you are using to burn your fuel. It is widely recognised that old stoves and fires are vastly less efficient when compared to modern, clean-burning appliances such as an Ecodesign-ready stove.”
An Ecodesign-ready stove burns much more cleanly than older models, meeting, and in many cases exceeding, future 2022 environmental standards. These products provide rolling flames and comforting warmth, whilst reducing emissions to an absolute minimum. They burn much more efficiently than old stoves, using on average 20% less logs than a standard stove to heat your home, and 70% less than an open fire.
Obstructions, soot, deposits and tar can all build up in a flue over time which can make a stove run less efficiently. Because of this, it is critical that all flue systems and stoves are maintained in accordance with your manufacturer’s advice to get the best from the appliance. Chimneys must be swept at least once a year, as a clear passageway is required for combustion gases to exit the home – sometimes this may be more frequently but your chimney sweep will be able to advise on the best course of action.
Likewise, stoves need to be regularly serviced by a HETAS installer to ensure safe use and optimum efficiency.
With these simple considerations in mind, using the right fuel in a good, well-maintained appliance can have a positive effect on the Government’s aims for improved air quality. You can also support your local area by visiting your nearest expert retailer to discuss your fireplace renovation – they will be able to give advice on the latest woodburning stoves and fires so that you can use the most suited appliance for your home.