There has been much conversation, and attention drawn to wood burners lately in the media, discussing how the Government intends on changing the use of incorrect fuel being used in the near future. The government has been implementing new plans to regulate the use of wood burners and open fires. They have put forward plans to clean up the UK's Air Quality. The Government intends to ban the sale of the most-polluting fuels to tackle worsening air quality, caused by the increased popularity of wood-burning stoves and open fires.
There is nothing like a real fire in the middle of Winter. Nothing can beat the real flames and the mesmerizing affect of losing yourself, staring into the blazing heart of a wood fire. It is estimated that around 10% of UK homes either have an open fire or wood burning stove. However, the overall story of this much heated debate all boils down to using the correct fuels to burn!.
The burning of wet and unseasoned wood, along with smokey solid fuels is what seems to be causing concern with the Government. Wet wood contains moisture which creates smoke, and harmful particles when burnt. Wood should only be burnt when it has a moisture content of 20% or less. So one political measure would be to ban the sale of poor quality wood, ones which do not have the 'ready to burn' logo on. According to Government data, 18% of wood currently being burnt in wood burners and open fires will be banned under the new rules. For those people who burn wood they have chopped themselves, it is recommended the wood is left to dry for two years before using it on the stove. Garage forecourts, garden centers and DIY stores have all started to sell Government approved "ready-to-burn" wood, again containing less than 20% moisture. Soon this could be the only wood available, 'ready-to-burn' dry wood emits around 50% less pollution than wet wood!!.
Basic coal will also face being replaced with smokeless varieties which are approved by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA). Briquettes or heat logs will more likely be in demand as they have a moisture content of around 6%.
It is also important to have your chimney swept regularly. Cleaning the chimney of soot can help make the smoke that leaves the house cleaner. It is recommended to have your chimney swept at least once a year, and twice if you also burn coal, certainly have it swept before the start of the heating season.
The environmental minister suggests that everyone has a role to play in improving the air we breathe, and reducing the amount of pollution from burning at home is a key area where we can all take action. While we will never be able to eliminate all particulate matter, by switching to cleaner fuels (dry wood, briquettes, smokeless coal), householders can reduce the amount of harmful pollution to which they expose themselves, their families and the environment. Whilst still enjoying the warmth and pleasure of a wood fire.
Although many of the news headlines have talked about wood burning stoves, the chief executive of HETAS, Bruce Allen, says open fires produce the "Bigger Problem". Many wood burners are already designed and made to burn wood, while only producing a fraction of the particulates of an open fire burning wet logs. Open fires are very inefficient (around 20%), and most of the heat goes up the chimney. If you want to keep on using an open fire, it is recommended that a wood burning stove is a much more efficient way of heating your home, whilst still being able to view the real flames of the fire.
If you have an old wood burner of ten years or more, maybe its time to think about installing a defra stove, or a clean-burning "ecodesign ready" model, so that we can all make a step towards making our air cleaner.
The latest Defra approved stoves pre-heat the air entering the chamber, and produce fewer smoky particulates than older stoves, and 90% less than an open fire. Dennis Milligan from the Stove Industry Alliance shop, says the message being put out there is to burn the 'correct' wood on the 'correct' appliance, this will all contribute to a progressive improvement in emissions.
By 2022, the only wood burning appliances sold in stores, will be those labelled with an "ecodesign" sticker. They are made to improve air quality and circulation that burns more cleanly. Newly designed stoves are now 80% efficient, increased from 60% in 2008. They produce 90% fewer emissions than open fires, which means new owners get more heat for their money!.
Ecodesign is a new set of requirements that effect a wide range of energy-related products. Among these regulations, wood burning stoves will have to meet requirements as a result of new legislation from the European Union. Ecodesign stoves will help to improve air quality and the efficiency in wood burning stoves. Any stove sold after it comes into effect in 2022, will have to be met with the ecodesign requirements. Even with Brexit the legislation will go ahead due to the role the UK played in bringing Ecodesign about. The idea of Ecodesign is to pick up where DEFRA left off. However, unlike the requirements for DEFRA Exemption, which only applies to smokeless zones, the Ecodesign regulations will apply to the whole country, so no matter where a new stove is to be installed it must comply with Ecodesign.
Here at Stovesworld Cardiff our SIA ready stoves include Henley's Hazlewood, Westfire's Uniq 37 and the Newbourne 40FS, some brands are still holding back to make sure they have all regulations correct. Call into Stovesworld today to see some of these stoves in our showroom or feel free to call in for any further advice, if you are thinking of replacing an exisiting older wood burner, or just want a change to the way you heat your home.