While wood-burning stoves have been around for centuries it is only over the last 20 years or so that we have seen significant developments in their associated technology. The wood-burning stove of today may look the same as those of years gone by but the technology and the efficiency have been improved significantly. The benefits of a wood-burning stove compared to traditional heating systems have helped to develop an enormous market which is growing year on year.
Is it possible to get any more environmentally friendly than using local wood to create heat and in some circumstances central heating and hot water for your home? The modern day wood-burning stove has an efficiency rating approaching 80% which means that only 20% of the fuel used is lost in the heat creation process. When you compare this to a traditional open fireplace, with an efficiency rating of between 10% and 20%, the benefits are there for all to see. The main problem with an open fireplace is the inefficiency of the system and the fact that much of the heat escapes through the chimney.
There is some debate about the cost of a running a wood-burning stove compared to traditional heating systems. This will obviously depend on the efficiency of the model, the cost of wood in your area and how the machine is used. In general, especially with energy prices increasing year-on-year, there are cost savings to be had when using wood-burning stoves but they will vary from area to area and household to household.
Carbon neutral emissions
There seems to be a constant battle between supporters and critics of wood-burning stoves as to how environmentally friendly they actually are. However, if we look at the amount of carbon created by a wood-burning stove compared to the amount of carbon ingested by a tree prior to burning, you begin to get a better picture.
Even the most ardent critics of wood-burning stoves readily admit that at worst, the very worst scenario, the burning of wood for fuel is carbon neutral. There have been numerous research projects over the years which highlighted the fact that on average a tree will ingest more carbon during its lifetime than it emits when burned. When you also consider that every tree chopped down to fuel a wood-burning stove is likely to be replaced with a young sapling, the carbon neutral process is endless.
In many ways the efficiency of a modern wood-burning stove relates to the fact that the heat is kept within the stove itself and radiation of the heat into a room is tightly controlled. It is also worth noting that primary combustion systems of years gone by have been improved dramatically with secondary and tertiary stages now commonplace. The secondary and tertiary stages of combustion burn off gases created in the initial stages to produce more heat and improve the overall efficiency – and reduce harmful emissions.
As regulations regarding the use of wood-burning stoves continue to tighten we will see more developments in the combustion process and improvement in what is already a highly efficient technology. The end result, a massive improvement in efficiency and a massive reduction in emissions!
As more and more people switch onto the use of a wood-burning stove to create traditional heat in a room, so we have seen a greater uptake in boiler systems and central heating systems. Putting together the greatly improved and more efficient combustion systems, the better structure and greater longevity of the stove body and the relatively simple installation of boiler systems, there are even more benefits than appear at first glance. It is not complicated to install a wood-burning stove which also acts as a boiler system, it is not as expensive as many might assume and the long-term benefits in cost and environmental issues are regularly highlighted at great length.
Cost of a wood-burning stove
Unfortunately in the early years a wood-burning stove was seen as something of a middle-class/high-class product which was relatively expensive to buy and even more expensive to run. In some ways this stigma is still alive to a certain extent but nowadays the unit cost of a wood-burning stove, and multifuel stove, has fallen dramatically. The benefits of mass-market appeal, efficiencies in the manufacturing process and the long-term benefits have created a growing market.
Whether you are looking to spend just a few hundred pounds on a wood-burning stove or perhaps you are looking towards a contemporary model in the thousands of pounds, there are many options available today. While some of the tax benefits associated with investment in woodland have been reduced by successive UK governments, supply is not really a problem in the vast majority of areas of the UK.
Easy on the eye
Whether you are looking towards a traditional or contemporary wood-burning stove, there are many different designs and styles available today. The modern day wood-burning stove is aesthetically pleasing on the eye and in many cases has become an integral part of the decor and style of a room. We have traditional square wood-burning stoves, rounded models, inserts which fit into the wall and cassettes which slide into a fireplace. In some cases you will also have a choice of different materials, and different colours, all of which can be adapted to match your chosen decor.
The modern-day wood-burning stove is carbon neutral, highly efficient, able to burn excess gases, in many cases cheaper than traditional energy costs and very easy on the eye. As the cost of traditional energy continues to rise the perceived benefits of a wood-burning stove to heat your room/house will strengthen. These are highly efficient and extremely durable products which may look like those of years gone by but under the surface they are very different.