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What is the environmental impact of wood-burning stoves?

The quest to heat homes efficiently and get the best value for money has been exacerbated by the cost-of-living crisis, as homeowners across the UK seek to minimise their energy costs. While rebates for energy use have been in effect through the winter months, those seeking longer-term solutions have opted for wood burning stoves and other alternatives to gas options.

But with alternatives, there comes a need for research and understanding. Here we take a dive into the impact of wood-burning stoves and how you can use your newly installed stoves in the most environmentally friendly manner. 

  1. The impact of domestic burning

Recent reports in national media have claimed that 38% of outdoor particle pollution comes from domestic burning. However, by diving into the detail, the report from the Clean Air Strategy reveals that domestic burning also accounted for agricultural burning, commercial catering, bonfires, and BBQs.

It would be wrong to claim that stoves do not contribute to pollution, but the recent ‘Emissions of air pollutants in the UK’ statistical report from government suggests that domestic combustion actually contributed 27% of emissions in 2021. Industrial combustion of biomass accounted for 18% of emissions, while a portion of PM2.5 present in our air originates in other countries. 

  1. Choose energy efficient options

Investing in wood-burning stoves and using wood as a fuel is kinder to the environment than heating your home with gas or electricity. Being a renewable source of energy, wood is widely thought of as a carbon neutral fuel and is seen as a more sustainable heat source with low emissions.

With that said, you can invest in energy efficient solutions that will also reduce your impact on the environment. Wood Fuel Direct recommends choosing a Heating Equipment Testing and Approval Scheme (HETAS) ‘Cleaner Choice’ stove or boiler, as appliances listed demonstrate at least a 50% improvement on the current particulate limits for exemption. They also meet tighter limits proposed in The Environment Improvement Plan 2023, which was published by the government on 31 January 2023. If you live in a Smoke Control area make sure you choose a Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra) exempt appliance to comply with legislation.

  1. Use the right fuel

Utilising dry firewood rather than wet wood options is essential. Our range of products carry a 5% moisture level, far below the 20% levels required for the Ready to Burn legislation. This is better for the environment, as fewer particles are released when compared to more polluting fuels. It’s also more cost effective as a higher moisture content reduces the potential heat output.

Not only do our briquettes produce very little soot and ash residue, but they also contain no harsh chemicals, and are grown and manufactured in Britain, making them one of the best for burning in terms of environmental factors.

  1. Follow key installation guides and ensure regular maintenance

Choosing a HETAS Registered Installer will ensure you comply with the relevant Building Regulations and have an appliance that is suitable for your needs. By scheduling regular sweeping and servicing of your chimney/flue and stove, you can maintain the efficiency of the appliance and minimise your environmental impact. You can find a range of services on the HETAS website, including approved retailers, registered installers, approved sweeps, and servicing technicians.

HETAS, who operate the Woodsure scheme, said: “We are supporting the current approach from the government to ask the industry and consumers to continue investing in, and using, better fuels, cleaner appliances, regular maintenance, and clearer education. We continue to work with the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero, Defra, and the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) to help inform future legislation and guide decision-makers with our industry expertise.

“To improve air quality for generations to come, the focus needs to be on taking action now. With the government recognising the vital need for education about air quality and energy efficiency, our mission is clear: to help consumers make cleaner, safer choices when it comes to their solid fuel appliances. Consumers can find plenty of tips and guidance on the dedicated Advice Hubs on both the HETAS and Woodsure websites.”