6 things to consider when choosing a log burner or multi-fuel stove
When considering getting a wood burner, it isn't really a case of "does it look good". We all know they do - but there is a lot more to actually living with one and using one day to day.
Here we will look at the top 6 things to consider when you're looking at purchasing a stove or burner.
1) Air quality and your health
Using wood as a fuel can be considered more environmentally friendly than fossil fuel heating. However, when it comes to air pollution, stoves still emit particulate matter (PM) pollution no matter what you use.
These emissions are worse if the stove is not efficient. Likewise, if you don't burn the right fuel or you're not using it in the right way. All stoves produced from 1 January 2022 must meet new, more stringent criteria – called EcoDesign regulations to try and stop this from happening. Many doubt this will be enough though.
If you have a health condition that puts you at greater risk from the effects of air pollution we would ask you to consider this further before burning wood in your home. If you live in a smoke-controlled area, your stove will also have to be approved by Defra (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) if it burns wood.
2) Which fuel will you choose to burn?
In October 2021, Which? surveyed more than 1,300 members who had bought wood-burning stoves in the past between 2012-2021. 54% said they used seasoned logs, with 29% said they use 'ready-to-burn' wood (which has less than 20% moisture content). 5% said they used wood from a certified scheme, such as the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC).
Burning wood from the wrong types of trees or logs that are still damp can create potentially harmful gases and release greater numbers of polluting particulates into your air. If you're getting a stove and plan on burning logs it's really worth making sure you've got the right ones.
House coal was much less eco-friendly and was phased out by the government. After 1 May 2023, traditional house coal has no longer been allowed (to be sold) in England. But there are lots of other smokeless solid fuel alternatives (such as anthracite) which are available from approved coal merchants.
3) How much space you will have to store fuel?
It's most cost-effective to buy fuel for your stove in bulk, so you’ll need plenty of room to store it, especially if you'll be burning logs. There are lots of practical ways to store fuel, even in smaller properties so doing a little research here is well worth it here before investing.
4) How much space are you heating?
Stoves are generally used to heat one room, the room they are in. More complex models, however, can be attached to your central heating system to heat other parts of the house too. This is worth considering if you need a stove because your home does not have gas access.
88% of respondents in the Which? survey said that the stoves are mostly used to heat the room they are in, whilst only 9% use them as the main source of heat in the house.
5) Will having a stove lower any of your bills?
With gas central heating costing more than ever before, many people ask us whether they'd save money by heating their homes the old-fashioned way.
Although it is almost impossible to do with so many variables and things changing in the market, around 55% of people think it has lowered their bills (based on figures before they got stoves/burners).
6) What is the ongoing maintenance you will have?
Stoves do take a lot of maintenance to use correctly. They take time to light, need to be controlled effectively when on ...and some need the ash to be cleaned out every time you start the fire.
On top of these day-to-day tasks of using one, you will also need to get the chimney swept at least once (preferably twice) a year by a professional to. Soot will naturally collect in your flue after using your fireplace and if left to collect for too long, they pose a major chimney fire hazard. Having your chimney swept will clear this away, meaning you won't be risking any unwanted ignition - as happened to my family home when I was in my teens. If you are considering a pellet stoves - these also need servicing once a year.