Why Has The Wood Burning Stove Recently Become So Popular?
If you’ve been musing over the idea of installing a wood burning stove in your home then you are far from alone. And if the principal purpose of your visit here is to find out what it’s likely to cost you to install one then you can either click that link or wend your way through.
Over the past few years there has been a huge increase in the number of people using wood burners to either supplement or indeed replace conventional heating systems.
And not just individuals either; many commercial premises, schools and so on have installed modern wood burning boiler stoves. So why exactly is this?
Top of the list in equal first place must be: significant savings in running costs (especially with constantly rising prices for gas, oil and electricity); and good looks. Certainly, where automated wood pellet stoves are concerned then reducing costs is where it’s at.
For purely domestic installations though, it seems that most everyone loves that traditional fireplace effect and the cozy warmth that more conventional forms of space heating just seem to lack. Also, the latest log burning stoves are very clean and easy to use and maintain.
Basic Checklist Before Considering Installing a Wood Burning Stove
There are various pros and cons to installing a wood burning stove and some of the crucial issues to consider for any biomass system are noted below.
Before we go any further though, a quick word about terminology. Like any subject, the technology of wood burning has it’s own jargon that acts as useful shorthand for professionals and mostly baffles everyone else.
Unusually though, this terminological bamboozlement starts with the description of the very subject itself. You would think that a woodburner, wood burner, wood burning stove and log burner were all basically the same thing just described in different ways. And (pedants and hair splitters aside) you would be right. But try typing each of those into a search engine and notice how you get noticeably different results each time.
For a quick(ish) run down of the various different options then try this guide to choosing a wood burning stove and discover more than you perhaps wanted to know about the differences (and similarities) between wood burners, pellet stoves, solid fuel versus multi-fuel stoves, inset fires, pellet boilers, range cookers, double sided stoves, back boilers, DEFRA approved appliances and so on, and on, and on…
It also includes a handy dandy list of many of the best wood stove makers with links to their own websites so you can
waste hours drooling extensively research the many options open to you.
This plethora of ways to say the same thing makes it quite tricky to ever find what you’re interested in, because you don’t know how it might have been described. You might want to research a wood burning boiler but not know that some of the best information or products out there refer instead to a log burning stove.
Eventually you might realize that “log burning stoves” or “log burning fires” might in fact be the term to search for only to then discover (or more likely not, of course) that other folk have chosen to refer instead to “wood burning fires” or even “cast iron stoves” for the perfectly reasonable reason that most logburners are indeed made of cast iron. The only solution appears to be to conduct multiple searches specifying each of the usual suspects. Anyway, you get the idea so let’s continue…
Money And Good Looks – Nothing Really Changes…
Modern wood burner stoves are very energy efficient and the price of the fuel compares extremely favorably with fossil fuel alternatives with potential energy savings at between 3 to 8 times depending on the exact comparison and location.
With oil prices constantly rising, anyone living in a remote location and dependent on an oil tank for their main fuel might want to seriously consider cutting their losses before things get even worse.
An interesting factoid is that a cord of properly seasoned hardwood produces heat equivalent to about 130 gallons of fuel oil (at today’s prices). It’s also cheaper and, as we will see, less harmful to the environment. A cord if you don’t know is a convenient US unit of measure for a stack of wood (4′ x 4′ x 8′).
Whether you want that stylish ultra modern look that contemporary log burners offer or a traditional country kitchen style there’s a wood burning stove to suit your lifestyle – the choice is simply enormous.
No matter what you choose though, wood burners always add a nice homely touch and people somehow seem to gravitate towards them.
The other main factor in favor of installing wood burning stoves is that they are very environmentally friendly. Oddly, many people would assume the exact opposite since they can see that a wood burning stove is clearly burning wood and creating smoke that contains carbon emissions. They tend to overlook that the “clean” electricity that enters their house has itself been created by burning fuel – almost always a fossil fuel such as coal, gas or oil.
The main difference between the two is that wood, unlike fossil fuels, is renewable and in the course of growing new wood (i.e. trees) carbon is extracted from the atmosphere and locked back up inside the wood. The plain fact is that trees, like all other living organisms, do not live forever and a dead tree can be seen as either waste material or a useful source of energy. The carbon stored in a dead tree is eventually released back into the atmosphere regardless, so burning it releases no more carbon than leaving it to rot. It is a more or less balanced carbon cycle.
It is for this very reason that many architects and builders now incorporate energy saving wood burners in their designs for new buildings – it enables them to simultaneously provide an economical and aesthetically pleasing domestic space heating, hot water and optional cooking solution and much more easily comply with ever tougher regulations targeting low carbon emissions. On the subject of which…
Woodburners, BioFuel And Climate Change
Whatever your own views on the subject of climate change (a.k.a global warming) there is no escaping the fact that the majority of governments across the developed world are united in an attempt to reduce emissions of Carbon Dioxide (CO2) and a consequence of this is a forest of legislation, regulations and initiatives that you must now navigate.
Woodburners use what is called “woody biomass” as fuel. Biomass (also often called biofuel) encompasses two principal categories: woody biomass (which is exactly what it sounds like) and non-woody biomass which is everything else including various sorts of biodegradable waste material and crops intentionally grown as biofuel, for example sugar and maize.
Woody biomass fuel suitable for use in most wood stoves is typically wood pellets, wood chips and wood logs. Many modern wood burning stoves are described as “dual-fire” meaning that they are capable of being run by any of these fuels (wood pellets are similar in size and appearance to the sort of thing people feed pet rabbits but made from highly compressed sawdust). Stoves that are specifically designed to run on wood pellets are often termed (rather obviously) wood pellet stoves or more simply just pellet stoves.
Dual-fire burners are not to be confused with “multi fuel stoves” which are capable of burning both wood products and coal. While it might be convenient to use coal as a fuel – not least because unlike wood which should be burned “fast” it can be slowly burned – coal is extremely environmentally hostile.
Coal is, hands down, far and away the worst fuel as regards CO2 pollution, beating both oil and gas by a considerable margin. Although the Climate Change Levy (a tax on energy designed to encourage energy efficiency and reduce carbon dioxide emissions) does not at present apply to domestic energy users, it is still worth noting that while wood fuel is exempt, coal is most certainly not. So onwards to the subject of wood fuel…