Wood Burning Stoves Blog

Posted on: 08/07/2015 - 11:16 | Comments:0

inset stove sceneWood burning stoves are rapidly gaining in popularity. The main reason for the increased interest in stoves is of course lower cost per kilowatt hour when compared to heating systems that run on electricity, oil or gas. But to be able to save money on heating, you obviously need to buy a wood burning stove. And since switching to new heating systems is never inexpensive, especially to those that help you save money, we have decided to take a closer look at the cost of wood burning stoves.

How much money will you spend to heat your home at a lower cost depends on several factors including:

  • The brand of the stove. Stoves that are made by reputable brands tend to be slightly pricier than those made by “no-name” manufacturers. While the latter can be a great choice as well, it is generally a better idea to choose a branded stove because it includes many years of experience, research and dedication to quality.

  • Output. Stoves with an output of 10 kWh are more expensive than those with an output of about 4 kWh. But it is important to keep in mind that higher output does not always translate into higher savings. For advice on calculating the right size stove, please read our article “Choosing the Right Size Wood Burning Stove”.

  • Efficiency. Just like other highly efficient appliances, the most efficient wood burning stoves are more expensive than those that are not as efficient. It is a good idea, however, to spend a few pounds extra on efficiency because it will save you a great deal of money in the long term. With an efficient stove, you will keep your home pleasantly warm and burn less wood.

  • Type/model. You can generally choose between three types of stoves – free-standing, inset and boiler stoves. The last option enables you to heat your hot water and sometimes also provide a secondary heating for other rooms, while inset stoves can be built into a wall so that only the front is visible. If you would like to create a “fireplace-like” look or heat your water, however, be prepared to pay more.

  • Standard vs. authorised smokeless stoves. The standard models are less expensive than the clean ones but if you live in a Smoke Control Area, you do not have the luxury to choose.

  • At which retailer you buy. Believe it or not, but the difference in the price for the very same model made by the very same brand can reach hundreds of pounds. If you want to save money when buying a wood burning stove, you are therefore recommended to take some time for shopping around.

Wood burning stove will cost you from £500 to about £2,500. It all depends on the above mentioned factors, of course. Keep in mind, however, that this price does not include installation which will cost you another £200 to £1,500+, depending on the complexity of works and the installer you hire.

Posted on: 08/07/2015 - 11:12 | Comments:0

cast iron stove with kettleIf properly operated and maintained, your wood burning stove will keep you warm for many years to come. Wood burning stoves are built to last and do not get damaged easily. They also do not require any special care to keep them in top condition. But there are a few things you should remember if you want to extend your stove’s lifespan. You are recommended to:

  • Burn only fully seasoned logs. If you want your wood burning stove to ‘live’ as long as possible, burn exclusively fully seasoned logs. They are not only more energy efficient than unseasoned wood but they are also ‘friendlier’ to your stove. Unseasoned logs are high in moisture content which can cause creosote and soot build-up, nuisance smoke and blackening of the glass as well as clog the flue system and cowl. Also, do not burn coal in your stove if it is not designed for multi fuel because it can cause damage to the stove. Never burn treated wood, plywood, chipboard, MDF and non-wood items. They can cause a permanent damage to your stove and release potentially toxic chemicals.

  • Clean your stove on a regular basis. There is not much work around wood burning stove but you are advised to keep it clean. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions in regard to cleaning and maintenance chores such as regular removal of the ashes, occasional cleaning of the interior of the stove with a scraper or wire brush and routine cleaning of the glass.

  • Have your stove inspected by a professional once a year. While cleaning your stove, pay close attention to cracks, spots of rust and other unusual signs that may indicate a problem. But just in case, have your stove inspected by a professional at least once a year in order to make sure that it is in perfect condition and safe.

  • Have any problems repaired immediately. By postponing a repair, you are risking even more damage and subsequently even a costlier repair. Even worse, the stove may not be safe if there is a malfunction. For safety reasons, never attempt to repair your stove by yourself but call a licensed professional instead.

  • Have your chimney checked and swept at least once a year. Blocked chimney does not pose a risk of damage to the stove but it poses a serious risk of chimney fire and carbon monoxide poisoning. You are therefore highly recommended to have your chimney checked and swept by a chimney sweep at least once a year.

  • Follow the manufacturer’s instructions about proper operation and maintenance. Read the stove manual and follow the instructions carefully because each stove is a little bit different. If you do not take care of your stove according to the manufacturer’s recommendations and you face any problems in the near future, you can void the warranty.

Posted on: 08/07/2015 - 11:10 | Comments:0

What is HETAS

HETAS is a government-recognised body that approves home solid fuel heating appliances including wood burning stoves. But it is also responsible for approval of solid fuels, installation of appliances and associated services. All HETAS approved wood burning stoves, fuels, installers and even retailers have to comply with very strict guidelines and pass very rigorous tests. The main goal of HETAS is to ensure that consumers have access to solid fuel appliances and related services that meet the highest quality and safety standards as well as the latest Building Regulations.

HETAS and Wood Burning Stoves

All HETAS approved wood burning stoves meet all the requirements regarding safety, efficiency, eco-friendliness and Building Regulations. HETAS approval is practically a “guarantee” that the stove you are buying has passed all tests for quality standards, safety, etc. and a “guarantee” that you are getting a good value for your money. It is important to keep in mind, however, that HETAS approved wood burning stove alone is not enough to keep your heating costs down and keep your home pleasantly warm at the same time. Energy- and cost-efficiency of your new stove depend on a number of factors. These include the stove’s heat output, size of the space, insulation of your home, quality of the logs, etc.. In order to benefit from following HETAS recommendations in regard to wood burning stoves, you are therefore also recommended to follow HETAS recommendations in the selection of firewood, installers and retailers.

HETAS Approved Firewood

The type of wood you burn has a major influence on the stove’s heat output and eco-friendliness but it also has a major influence on your overall heating costs. Softwoods such as conifers are less expensive but they also have a lower caloric value than hardwoords such as oak for instance. To achieve the desired temperature during cold winter months, you would need to burn larger quantities of softwood than hardwood. As a result, you would pay more for lower heat output. HETAS therefore recommends hardwoods over softwoods and seasoned over non-seasoned wood. The latter is high in water content and as a result, it has a significantly lower heat output than fully dried logs. At the same time, non-seasoned wood can cause smoke nuisance and problems with condensation.

HETAS Approved Installers

You do not need Planning Permission to install wood burning stove but you do need to comply with the Building Regulations. You are legally obliged to inform your local authorities if you want to install a wood burning stove even if you are only replacing the existing one. But you do not have to deal with your local authorities if you hire a HETAS approved installer. This is due to the fact that all HETAS approved installers are allowed to self-certify their work. By hiring a HETAS approved installer you automatically comply with the Building Regulations.

HETAS Approved Retailers

HETAS approved retailers have passed the organisation’s guidelines for quality of service. This also includes advice on the selection of the right size stove, type of stove, installers, etc..

Posted on: 08/07/2015 - 11:09 | Comments:0

old style stoveChoosing the right size wood burning stove is of key importance if you want to keep your home pleasantly warm at the lowest cost possible. In order to determine what size wood burning stove or to be more precise, what heat output (kW) you need, you will need to do a little bit of math. But do not worry though, because you will not have to use any complicated formulas.

Too Big Stoves are Inefficient

Just because you have a big room that does not necessary mean you need a big stove to heat it to the desired temperature. In fact, too big stove will make it even more difficult to achieve the optimal temperature at a low operating cost. This is due to the fact that it will emit too much heat most of the time if operated according to the manufacturer’s instructions which among other also foresee operation at full load. Regulating temperature by reducing fuel load or fire-chamber temperature will affect the stove’s efficiency.

If you reduce fuel load, you may get poor heat output and burn more wood as if you would operate it fully loaded. At the same time, you would also be producing lots of smoke. And this could be problematic if you live in Smoke Control Area even if your wood burning stove is DEFRA exempt. By reducing the fire-chamber temperature, on the other hand, you would slow down the rise of flue gases which in turn can cause problems with condensation and creosote.

Too Small Stoves Get Easily Damaged

Too small stove is not a good idea either. In order to achieve the optimal heat output during extremely cold winter days, you would have to load it virtually non-stop. And this could cause potentially serious damage to the stove due to overheating.

Calculating the Right Size Wood Burning Stove

The size of the space is of course the key factor in calculation of the right size wood burning stove. Generally, it is recommended to choose slightly larger stove than you need but no more than 1kW. This will enable you to achieve the optimal temperature, roughly about 22 degrees Celsius when the temperature outside is zero. The size of the room, however, is not the only factor that should be taken into account when calculating the right size stove. Insulation, size of the windows, specific weather conditions such as strong winds, etc. also play an important role in the feeling of warmth.

Considering the many factors that should be considered in calculation of the right size stove, it is a good idea to ask an expert for an advice. But to get a better idea what size (kW) stove you should be looking for, you can also use the following formula:

Volume (m3) / 10 = kW

If your home, however, is not properly insulated, divide volume of the space with the number 15 or 25. Use the latter if your home is poorly insulated. Than add 1 KW and you will get an approximate estimation of heat output that will enable you to keep your home warm and cut the expenses for wood fuel.

Posted on: 08/07/2015 - 11:07 | Comments:0

You are required to notify and obtain approval by your Local Authority Building Control department for many home jobs in order to make sure that the works carried out comply with the Building Regulations. Since 2005, this also counts for installation and replacement of a heating system or boiler including wood burning stoves.

What Happens if You Do Not Notify Your Local Authority Building Control Department about Wood Burning Stove Installation?

A certification that your newly installed wood burning stove complies with the Building Regulations of course involves a fee which further increases the costs of installation. But what if you install your new wood burning stove without notifying your Local Authority Building Control department? After all, how will they know? There are several reasons why this is not a good idea including:

  • The risk of a fine. If you do not obtain an approval for installation of your wood burning stove by the Building Control, it is not legal. If your Local Authority Building Control department finds out about it, you can be fined up to £5,000. The certification that the newly installed stove complies with the Building Regulations, on the other hand, will probably cost you less than £300, so it really is not worth to take the risk.

  • Installation may not be safe. The Building Regulations are not intended just to charge home owners for works in their homes but to ensure their own and the general population’s safety. If the work is not inspected and approved by the Building Control department, you cannot really know for sure that the stove is installed safely. And besides posing a potential risk to your health and property, the installation may not meet energy efficiency standards.

  • Problems with insurance claims. Many insurance companies want to know about works in your home such as installation of a wood burning stoves. And this includes documentation that the work complies with the Building Regulations. Obviously, you cannot tell your insurance company that you have installed a wood burning stove that was not approved by the Building Control which in turn can cause you serious problems with insurance claims.

  • Problems when selling your home. If you ever decide to sell your home, you will highly likely to be asked to provide documentation that it meets the Building Regulations. But if you do not notify the Building Control department about wood burning stove installation, you obviously will not be able to provide all the necessary certificates.

Our Advice

We strongly advise you to notify your Local Authority Building Control department about installation of a wood burning stove or have it installed by a registered installer from a Competent Person Scheme such as Hetas if you live in England or Wales, or INFO if you live in Ireland for instance. In the latter case, you do not have to tell the Building Control department about installation of a new stove because registered installers from a Competent Person Scheme are allowed to self-certificate their work and will take care of the necessary documentation for you.