A study conducted by the UK government in 2015 found that the country had been underestimating its domestic wood fuel consumption by a factor of 3. It was found that almost half of appliances were closed stoves (wood burners) and 40% were open fires. So, the question to be asked is why are more and more people opting for a wood-burner? Whilst they have many aesthetic benefits (who doesn’t love watching the flickering light?) there are perhaps more important considerations than simply the decorative enjoyment.
Stoves have received their fair share of bad press. Cutting the logs to be used in stoves can lead to increased levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, 17% of the carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere is due to deforestation and the decay of trees and other biomass.
Environmental issues can also arise depending on the type of wood you choose to burn in your stove. If your logs are unseasoned then they should be left to dry for at least a year. If the moisture content of a log is above 25% you can produce visible smoke which is a polluting and can create a build-up of tar which can lead to chimney fires.
However, many stove activists believe that the benefits of choosing a wood-burner outweigh the disadvantages. Ultimately, burning wood produces far less carbon dioxide than burning fossil fuels. In addition, there are a variety of air pollutants which are emitted when burning fossil fuels that are not present in wood.
However, burning the fuel cleanly only releases the same amount of CO2 into the atmosphere from a tree as when it is left to rot naturally as it would do at the end of its lifecycle. So, if the CO2 would be released once the tree dies regardless, it makes more sense to be put to good use heating homes. Additionally, harvested trees are more often than not replaced with new trees, which in turn absorb CO2 in the process of photosynthesis as they grow.
A wood-burning stove is also a sustainable option and reduces your carbon footprint. Fossil fuels are rapidly being depleted, whereas wood is a renewable resource, and the CO2 being released by burning wood is absorbed by new trees that replace the ones that were cut down.
The prices of gas and electricity have soared in recent years, but the price of wood has remained low. Joineries will even give away waste wood for free, or you can gather dead wood on excursions through the countryside. If you choose to opt for a local supply of wood, the impact on the environment from transportation would also be reduced, as there is less dependence on the oil or gas used in the vehicles. Find our list of local log merchants here.
Wood burning pellet stoves are the next generation of biomass heating appliances. Pellet stoves are clean burning stoves – the ash content of the burnt pellets is just 0.5 to 1%. A pellet stove is CO2-neutral, but the integrated computer system also ensures efficient burning. However, it is worth noting that not all stoves are designed to burn pellets.
Like pellets, compressed wood briquettes are also available. Briquettes are dry and energy rich making them an efficient source for warming your home and saving you money over alternatives such as central heating.
Wood Briquettes and Heat Logs are interchangeable terms. They both describe a product made from wood by-products. This might be sawdust, wood chip, or wood flour, using extreme pressure to form a block or log shape.