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  • Lisa Gardener

The Future Of Woodburning Stoves

Nothing can beat the cosy ambience and welcoming heat of a flickering flame in a woodburning stove. It's for this romantic reason that stoves remain a desirable fixture in British homes, decades after the introduction of central heating.

Alongside the traditional appeal, sustainably forested wood offers a renewable heat source for those that wish to avoid using fossil fuels and reduce their carbon footprint in our increasingly eco-conscious world.

This being said, woodburning stoves are not without fault. The latest figures show that the use of wood and coal on open fires and old stoves causes 38% of harmful particulate matter and significant amounts of the sulphur dioxide currently found in the UK air.

In January 2019, the government released The Clean Air Strategy with the hope of reducing the harmful effects of toxic air pollution by 50%. The strategy aims to tackle all types of pollutants, ranging from the typical large-scale manufacturers and transport industries, down to personal woodburner usage within the home.

Part of the strategy has seen the government pledge that by 2022, only the cleanest stoves will be available for homeowners to buy, but this doesn't mean that you will have to remove or adjust your old appliance. The important thing to understand is that stoves were not made illegal in January 2019. All that has happened is the government has introduced legislation to simply encourage the sale of safer woodburning stoves.

So, what kind of stoves are deemed "safe" under the government's new official guidelines?

Ecodesign Ready Stoves

According the The Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs, the safest appliances with the lowest PM emissions are recognised as Ecodesign Ready Stoves, which also support the government's Clean Air Strategy. These advanced stoves burn so cleanly that they meet, and in many cases even exceed, 2022 air quality and efficiency targets.

An Ecodesign Ready Stove produces 90% less emissions than an open fire and 80% less than a stove manufactured 10 years ago.

This new range of eco-friendly stoves is far more precision engineered than its predecessors. Through clever use of flue systems, an Ecodesign Ready Stove channels airflow to encourage a thorough and fast-burning combustion. This ensures that the timber burns thoroughly and efficiently, meaning that the flames release significantly less polluting PM emissions into the surrounding atmosphere.

The SIA have been working alongside DEFRA to ensure that by 2022, Ecodesign Ready Stoves will be the only woodburners available to purchase in the UK. The Clean Air Strategy was introduced just one year ago, but there have already been seismic shifts within the woodburning stove industry.

Buying advice

In the wake of The Clean Air Strategy, you can still buy stoves that don't match Ecodesign Ready standards. However, if you're purchasing a new woodburner, it makes sense to buy one with the accreditation. These appliances are not only sustainable, but could also save you money on fuel. It is a responsible, future proof purchase.

You should also take professional advice on the heat output that will be required for the size of the room that the stove is to be installed in.

Your local independent stove and fireplace retailer will be able to advise you on choosing the right size and model but, as a rule of thumb, you need a stove with approximately 1kW of heat output for every 14m³ of space.

Essential maintenance

Once you've chosen a suitable stove, you need to look after it properly. Ensure your chimney is swept annually and regularly check the glass and other components for signs of wear. Always consult the manufacturer's advice.


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