The Stove Industry Association (SIA) welcomes the publication today of the Chief Medical Officer’s Annual Report 2022 which gives a balanced and far-reaching commentary on the topic of air pollution and air quality.
Professor Whitty’s report, which the SIA was pleased to be able to contribute to, recognises that all forms of domestic heating cause some pollution, and recommends that for those that choose to burn wood or solid fuel it is important to burn dry, Ready to Burn certified fuel in a modern Ecodesign and Defra exempted stove. By doing so the associated emissions can be reduced by a factor of 9 compared to an open fire.
The report states that air pollution emissions can be reduced by: “… using modern, less polluting stoves and burning wood that is dry”. It goes on to note that: “For air pollution emissions, there is substantial difference between the different open fire and stove designs, the age of the appliance and how well maintained it is, and the moisture content of the wood, for those who want to burn wood.”
Andy Hill, chair of the SIA, commented: “In this Report the CMO and his team have considered a wide range of contributors to air pollution from industry, transport, and transboundary sources, as well as domestic solid fuel heating. We are pleased that the report recognises the huge advances in stove appliance technology that have been driven by the Ecodesign regulations and that it calls for the Clean Air Act requirements for smoke control areas to be properly adhered to. The report also highlights potentially ground-breaking new technology in some industries, and, similarly, the stove industry continues to develop and invest in new technology to reduce emissions even further.”
The UK stove industry engaged early with the Ecodesign regulations, with stoves available for sale that met the Ecodesign emissions and efficiency criteria many years before the implementation date on 1st Jan 2022. In a drive to go even further, an independent certification scheme to allow consumers and legislators to easily identify the least emitting and most efficient stoves was launched in 2020. The clearSkies Mark Certification Scheme is administered by Kiwa Ltd, an accredited test laboratory, certification body and Government appointed Conformity Assessment Body.
Andy added: “Already as an industry we have been looking at improving the emissions and efficiency performance of wood burning stove beyond the requirements of Ecodesign. A clearSkies certified level 5 appliance offers almost a 30% reduction in emissions and higher efficiency than the minimum legal requirements set out within the Ecodesign Regulation. All clearSkies Level 3 and above appliances have also been verified as having Defra exemption for use in Smoke Control Areas.”
The report recognises that the reasons for burning solid fuel in the home are varied with Professor Whitty noting that these include “aesthetic as well as practical, ecological or economic reasons”. Andy Hill notes: “Burning sustainably sourced wood fuel is currently the most cost-effective low carbon heating available*. With increasing electricity and gas prices and more power outages being experienced during extreme weather events, consumers are choosing to be able to guarantee that they can heat their homes without relying on electricity or gas. The comfort that a modern wood burning stove brings to owners is significant and multi-faceted; it provides a familial focal point and primarily heats the space you need it to, you have the comfort of knowing that you can stay warm in the event of a power cut, and by burning sustainably sourced wood for heat you are displacing higher carbon intensive fuels such as oil, gas and electricity thus reducing your carbon footprint.”
SIA Top Tips
- Choose an Ecodesign compliant wood burning stove such as a clearSkies certified appliance. If you currently use an open fire or an older, very basic wood burning stove consider upgrading. A modern Ecodesign compliant wood burning stove, such as a clearSkies model, releases up to 90% less emissions than an open fire and can be up to 80% less than some older stoves. Your local SIA Retail Group member can help advise on the best stove for you and your family.
- If you live in a Smoke Control Area, your stove will also need to be Defra exempt. All clearSkies Level 3 and above models are certified as Defra exempt.
- Visit your local stove retailer for guidance on choosing the right size stove for your property and for a detailed installation quote. You can find your nearest SIA Retail Group member showroom here.
- Ensure your stove is fitted and maintained by an appropriately qualified competent person such as one who is HETAS or OFTEC
- Ensure you use quality wood fuel. Look for the Ready to Burn logo to ensure your wood logs are at or below 20% moisture content. Never used chemically treated wood or burn waste on your stove.
- Have your chimney swept at least once a year by a registered sweep. The Federation of British Chimney Sweeps has links to all the main sweep associations. Chimney sweeps are a valuable source of information for good practice and advice – and they are happy to engage and encourage you to “Speak to a Sweep”.
- Keep your stove in tip top condition by having it regularly serviced.