Wood burning stove

There is growing concern about clean air which prompted the UK government to launch a consultation on its Clean Air Strategy in May 2018. This has now been completed and the Government released the final document on 14th January 2019 (see UK government Clean air strategy-2019)

Broseley snowdon 26 wood burning boiler stove

  While the full document covers overall strategy including major issues like emissions from traffic and industry, domestic air pollution is covered, in particular emissions from heating stoves see our earlier blog post here Government consultation may affect older wood burning stoves.   There have been some scare stories in the media regarding a possible ban on wood burning stoves but these are just that and there is no proposed ban. However pollution will be more tightly controlled which means cleaner burning fuels and more efficient heating stoves in the future.  

Aims of the Clean Air Strategy 2019

One of the aims of the strategy is to raise awareness of the breadth of everyday activities that contribute to air pollution.   Open fires and wood burning stoves are increasingly popular. Not all forms of domestic burning are equally polluting.   How appliances are used, installed and maintained along with what fuels are used can all make a big difference to how much pollution is produced.  
using cleaner fuels, in a cleaner appliance which is installed by a competent person, knowing how to operate it efficiently, and ensuring that chimneys are regularly swept, will all make a big difference

Key actions from the clean air strategy

Here are the main points that affect heating stoves:
  • Legislate to prohibit sale of the most polluting fuels – Woodsure’s Ready to Burn scheme has been launched which now has a large number of accredited suppliers committed to the scheme and HETAS is updating its list of Approved smokeless fuels to meet future legislation requirements.
  • Ensure that only the cleanest stoves are available for sale by 2022 – By 2022 HETAS will only accept Ecodesign compliant stoves. HETAS also works with the SIA to list Ecodesign Ready Stoves on the website.
  • Make changes to existing smoke control legislation to make it easier to enforce – It’s recogniseds that enforcement can be challenging so any developments made through the Environment Bill will be welcome. Dealing with polluters is an important step in improving air quality.
  • Give new powers to local authorities to take action in areas of high pollution.
  • Work across government to look at opportunities to align work on air quality, clean growth and fuel poverty in future policy design – Defra has an important role in working with key industry organisations like HETAS, Woodsure, the Stove Industry Alliance and chimney sweeping organisations.
  • Develop a dedicated communications campaign targeted at domestic burners, to improve awareness of the environmental impact of their actions.
  • Work with industry to identify an appropriate test standard for new solid fuels entering the market – Again, both HETAS and Woodsure are playing a key role in these developments. For now, ensure you check the HETAS approved fuels list for solid mineral fuels, Woodsure for woodfuels along with the manufacturer’s instructions for specific advice on what to burn.
As long as you follow the rules of your local authority and burn the cleanest fuels you should not have any problems with your woodburning, multifuel or other type of stove.

Further reading

HETAS view on UK’s Clean Air Strategy 2019 UK Government’s Clean Air Strategy 2019 HETAS view on the future of wood burning stoves
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Complete Stoves Hetas registered.

Buying a woodburning stove is not usually an impulse buy. You need to have a reasonable idea of where it could go and what is needed to keep it working efficiently. We’ll cover maintenance in a future blog post but this blog post will focus on the initial steps in considering buying a woodburning stove.   As a heat source for your home it’s a cozy and efficient way of heating a house. It also does not necessarily need much extra work for maintenance but there are some jobs that need doing regularly.  

Installing a woodburning stove – you need a HETAS qualified installer

  You may already have heard of the governing body for Gas Engineers, Gas Safe. The equivalent governing body for solid fuel installers is HETAS – Heating Equipment Testing and Approvals Scheme.   So that means that if your stove is installed by a non-HETAS registered installer then it still has to be signed off by a HETAS registered installer.   In fact all solid fuel installations, including wood burning stoves, must be signed off by a HETAS (or equivalent competent persons scheme) registered installer.   As we at Complete Stoves are HETAS registered installers we are able to ‘self-certify’ and notify your local authority that the works have been completed in a safe and compliant manner without the need for them to inspect.   Complete Stoves Hetas registered.  

First stages in preparing and installing a woodburning stove

Firstly can you use an existing chimney breast?   If you can then it will need to be swept and lined for a solid fuel stove. This helps burn fuel efficiently helping cut running costs but it also protecting against Carbon Monoxide which can harm or even kill if allowed to build-up due to inefficient burning and removal of flue gases.   Here’s an installation where we used an existing chimney breast.   Rebuilding the chminey breast Here’s the final installation of the woodburning stove having rebuilt the chimney: Woodburning stove installed See this link for more information about the dangers of carbon monoxide – https://www.woodburningstoves.com/blog/wood-burning-stoves-and-risk-carbon-monoxide-poisoning   If you haven’t got a suitable chimney breast then a twin wall chimney can be installed and routed either internally to hide it or turned into a feature.   See the ACR Neo 1P for a woodburning stove that can stand alone. https://www.completestoves.co.uk/shop/brands/acr-stoves/acr-neo-1p-multifuel-woodburning-stove-free-gifts-stove-copy/

Checking if you live in a smoke control area?

  Under the Clean Air Act local authorities may declare the whole or part of their district to be a smoke control area. If you live in a smoke control area you cannot burn wood unless you are using a DEFRA exempt appliance burn an authorised fuel such as these:  
  • anthracite
  • semi-anthracite
  • gas
  • low volatile steam coal
  See some of our suitable woodburning stoves here – ACR Larchdale Wood burning Stove or Broseley Snowdon 26 Wood burning Boiler Stove   Most local authorities will publish their smoke control zones:     Wood burning stoves are an increasingly popular way of reducing gas bills and using a locally sourced, renewable fuel.   Well seasoned, locally sourced wood can cost as little as 1p per kilowatt hour (kWh) and many people can source it for free.   Get in touch for that first no-obligation chat about your new woodburning stove and installation by calling 01788 822268 or using  our contact form.
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In May 2018, the UK Government launched a consultation into their new clean air strategy that may affect older wood burning stoves and open fires.

The clean air strategy aims to crack down on a wide range of pollutants. These include particulates from wet wood and coal burning in homes, ammonia emissions from farms and dust from vehicle tyres and brakes.

The new clean air strategy is a response to an EU directive on cutting harmful emissions. An air quality plan, published in July 2017, is related to a separate EU directive on cleaner air.

The environment secretary, Michael Gove, said he was ready to legislate to ensure only the “cleanest” domestic fuels would be available for sale. About 10% of UK homes (2.5 million) have an open fire or wood-burning stove.

The problem is not the stoves it’s the fuel

Using the latest stoves with installation and maintenance by qualified fitter will help to reduce particulates pollution. However choice of fuel is an important factor.

Experts say the burning of wet or unseasoned wood and smoky solid fuels is the main problem. Wet wood contains moisture that creates smoke and harmful particulates when burned. Properly seasoned wood should have a moisture content of 20% or less.

One easy measure would be to ban the sale of wood that does not have the “ready to burn” logo. This would outlaw poor-quality logs bought from garage forecourts and DIY outlets.While some headlines may talk about wood burning stoves it is open fires that are the biggest polluters.Bruce Allen, chief executive of Hetas, the not-for-profit body that approves fuel and install standards, says open fires produce the bigger problem.

One of the newest models of stoves used to burn dry wood will produce a fraction of the particulates of an open fire burning wet logs, he said The government has also noted this in documents, meaning open fires are most at risk.

Reducing the impact of my stove or open fire

While open fires in high population density areas like London will probably be more strictly controlled, the latest Defra-approved stoves are likely to be fine.These wood burning stoves pre-heat the air entering the chamber and produce fewer smoky particulates than older stoves, and about 90% less than an open fire.Also consider switching to briquettes made from waste wood. 

They are cheaper, deliver more heat and are cleaner-burning.Examples of Defra approved wood burning stoves available from Complete Stoves are show below: 

ACR Birchdale DEFRA approved wood burning stove

ACR Malvern classic DEFRA approved wood burning stoves 

Brosley Snodon DEFRA approved wood burning stove

Burley Debdale DEFRA approved woodburning stove

The consultation is still ongoing but Wood Burning stoves are very unlikely to be banned by future governments. Please get in touch if you have any concerns about Wood burning stoves.

Further reading

Burning issue: Are wood-burning stoves going to get the chop?

UK’s new air pollution strategy ‘hugely disappointing

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