Traditional heating meets 21st century technology
Long before carbon reduction and air quality targets made daily headlines, wood burning stoves have been delivering renewable, sustainable, and affordable heat for families across the UK. Indeed, many of today’s wood burning stove owners will argue that they are the original environmentalists.
With an estimated two million stove and fireplace installations in the UK, representing a domestic investment of approximately £4 billion in people’s homes, wood burning stoves not only provide a warming backdrop to family life, but they also make a genuine contribution to economic growth.
It is therefore vital that we do not overlook this well-established and much favoured method of domestic heating as we rise to the challenge of new carbon reduction targets which are set to become enshrined in law later this year.
Renewable and sustainable
The wood burning stove industry takes the issues of air quality and carbon reduction very seriously. The Stove Industry Alliance (SIA) has been working closely with government departments such as Defra and BEIS to support its manufacturing members in ensuring that the latest wood burning stoves, unlike open fires and older stove models, incorporate improvements to significantly reduce emissions and improve efficiency whilst continuing to contribute to our sustainable low carbon future with the inherent low carbon benefits of using renewable wood fuel.
Ecodesign Regulations for solid fuel space heating appliances come into force on 1st January 2022 and set increased appliance efficiency targets (75% minimum) along with an 88% improvement on permitted CO emissions, plus strict emission limits for particulate matter (PM), organic gaseous compounds (OGC) and nitrogen oxides (NOx).
The stove industry responded early to these new Regulations with appliances bearing the SIA Ecodesign Ready label having been available since 2017.
A year ago, the stove industry went a step further with the launch of the clearSkies emissions and energy performance certification mark. Not only are all clearSkies certified appliances independently verified as meeting the requirements of Ecodesign, clearSkies Levels 4 & 5 are only granted to those appliances for which the test results show further reduced emissions and improved efficiency well beyond what is required by Ecodesign, as well as verified as being Defra exempted for use in smoke control areas. A level 5 clearSkies certified appliance will be at least a 30% improvement on the Ecodesign requirements.
A clearSkies certified stove features the very latest firebox technology that has been specifically designed for more complete combustion and employs secondary and tertiary air systems to burn off excess hydrocarbons, in conjunction with more efficient baffle and aeration systems. A clearSkies stove is more efficient by virtue of its design, but more importantly, it is significantly less polluting.
Independent tests show that a modern SIA Ecodesign Ready or clearSkies certified wood burning stove will produce up to 90% less emissions than an open fire and up to 80% less than many older, basic stove models.
The use of wood burning for domestic heating is intrinsically circular. Stove owners use a renewable and sustainable resource for fuel and the industry employs the use of materials such as glass, steel and cast iron in the production of appliances, all of which can be easily recycled.
While the notion of a circular economy is by no means a new concept, today we recognise it as vital to tackle challenges such as climate change and pollution. As the country invests in greater afforestation, sustainable forestry practices will increase the amount of locally produced wood fuel.
Wood burning is a tried, tested and trusted environmentally friendly heating solution, that has been brought right up to date to sit alongside and complement the growing range of innovative heating technologies that will drive the shift to lower and zero carbon homes.
Wood burning stoves remain popular as well as environmentally friendly as they provide a visibly relaxing and warming focal point to the home, which in turn also brings health benefits; de-stressing, relaxing and bringing families together.
Already a very low carbon solution, combined with their low emission, renewable and sustainable credentials, modern wood burning stoves offer a viable and scalable solution for the delivery of a sustainable heating strategy. Importantly, with the changing climate and increased stress on our energy and utility systems, they provide the security of being able to heat the home in the event of grid outages, while at the same time reducing our reliance on fossil fuels for domestic heating, making them a truly future proof choice.