Wood Burning Stove

If you live in a traditional house in Cheltenham, you will almost certainly have an existing flue which you may be able to use for a wood burning stove.

However, if you do so, you should line the flue because wood smoke contains tars that will leach into stonework and could affect surrounding masonry and plaster. If you have an existing grate of historic value, your options may also be more limited.

Wood is considered to be a ‘low carbon’ fuel because the cycle of growing the fuel and then burning it produces no net increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide, unlike mining and burning coal. Burning wood however, does result in carbon emissions, although modern wood burning stoves are very efficient. Significant carbon emissions can also arise from the transportation of the fuel, so wood is only a truly sustainable fuel is it comes from a local, well-managed source.

In an urban context, particulate emissions are an important concern. Approximately half of Cheltenham is a Smoke Control Area, where you can only burn wood in your home if you do so using an ‘exempt appliance’. This means that you can no longer use your open grate in the manner it was intended, regardless of whether you want to burn wood or coal.

Wood burning stoves include simple appliances designed to heat a single room. They also include stoves with back boilers, kitchen ranges, wood pellet stoves and multi-fuel appliances.

There are many stoves available that will look good in a traditional fireplace and are much more efficient than an open fire, though you may need to make adjustments to the grate in order to install it.

There are a number of key issues you must get right when specifying a wood burner:

  • How much heat do you want it to produce? Specifying the right size of appliance is vital. An oversized wood burner will not operate efficiently.
  • Do you want to retain heat for later? If a stove is set in a stone fireplace surrounded by masonry walls, as in most traditional homes, the heat will be absorbed by the fabric of the building and help to keep the room warm after the fire has gone out. If you have space, you can go further and connect the stove to an accumulator tank which can provide heat to radiators through the night.
  • What fuel do you want to use and what is available? Fuels include logs, woodchip and wood pellets made from sawdust or other wood waste. You need to be sure not only that you will have a reliable supply but also that this supply will be of reliable quality. You will have problems if you burn a fuel with too high a moisture content, for example.
  • Where will you store the fuel? You need somewhere accessible and dry.
  • How efficient is the appliance? All solid fuel burners have an EU efficiency rating so always check this – some wood stoves have poor efficiency ratings.

There are other ways of providing  supplementary heat for your living room, but avoid using electric fires and heaters if at all possible. For the same amount of money and carbon, you will get 2-3 times as much heat from a gas fire.  However, gas fired coal-effect fires are very inefficient.

A large range of wood burning stove are readily available to suit all situations and pockets.