Busting Firewood Myths & the Benefits of Wood Burning
With the new ban on coal and wet wood coming into play in 2023, Contura expert explains the importance of wood as an energy source from an efficiency and environmental perspective.
There are few things in life more comforting than the long, lazy flames and sound of a freshly lit wood fire crackling away, however there is some confusion surrounding the efficiency and sustainability of firewood as a fuel source.
Given Defra’s recent announcement banning sales of coal and wet wood for domestic fires and phasing out these fuel options by 2023 , wood burning stoves are once again under scrutiny, with questions arising on their efficiency and environmentally friendly credentials.
Contrary to popular opinion, firewood is a highly efficient and low-carbon fuel source. When used and maintained correctly, a wood burning stove is far more efficient than an open fireplace, uses less wood, is cheaper to run and leads to a better fuel economy.
Here, aptly named Phil Wood, UK Country Manager at Europe’s leading manufacturer of wood burning stoves, Contura, dispels some of the common inaccuracies surrounding the use of wood vs. fossil fuels and compares the benefits of wood burning stoves vs. traditional open fires.
Phil says: “Defra’s recent proposal to ban the sale of house coal and small quantities of wet wood in the UK can only be a step in the right direction when it comes to domestic fires. Ecodesign Ready wood burning stoves already meet strict requirements in relation to reducing fuel emissions and as such, are approved for use in smoke control areas.
“Wood burners are a viable option for homeowners looking to upgrade an existing fireplace or switch to wood as their main energy source. Installing a stove will heat a home more efficiently than an open fire and helps to save money on energy bills long-term.”
Read on for the full Q&A, which includes Phil’s tips for minimising fuel emissions when burning wood at home.
Is wood a low-carbon fuel?
“Unlike coal or natural gas, wood is a low-carbon fuel. This means that burning wood results in a relatively small net release of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, which is then re-absorbed when new trees grow. This effectively balances out the combustion of bioenergy.
“As such, when changing from smokeless or mineral fuels to burning wood, this also contributes to a reduction in carbon emissions.”
Is wood a renewable fuel?
“Whilst fossil fuels such as coal, crude oil and natural gas aren’t renewable, wood is. A renewable resource is defined as a natural resource which will replenish to replace the portion depleted by usage.
“Wood is renewable in that a tree cut for fuel will naturally be replaced by a younger tree that springs up in its place. However, it’s also important to consider the concept of sustainable forest management, both locally and worldwide. Most firewood is produced from thinning the forest to provide space, nutrition and light for thicker, more established trees to prosper. Localised coppicing also helps to ensure ‘low fuel miles’ as wood is transported to areas nearby, within a 30 to 100 mile radius, rather than sourced from forests abroad.
“Additionally, in recent years Contura has worked with Eden Reforestation Projects and planted over 58,000 trees in Madagascar over the last 19 months. This ongoing initiative serves to reassure our customers that an investment in a Contura wood-burning stove is also an investment in reforestation projects and is contributing to the wider sustainability of wood as a fuel source.”
Is wood more expensive than other energy sources?
“Burning wood is more cost effective than electricity for heating. Burning wood costs an average of 4p per kWH (kilowatt hour) vs. electricity prices, which are typically between 11p and 16p per kWh.
“Gas is charged at an average rate of 24p per day and is typically 3.8p per kWH. Although this is 0.2 pence cheaper than a wood burner, it’s worth bearing in mind that gas and electricity rates are set separately by providers and are subject to increases, whereas wood costs are not subject to these ad hoc rises.
“Purchasing a stove upfront is an investment, but in the long-run this will be more cost effective as a wood burner typically has low running costs.”
How efficient is burning wood?
“Just two logs per hour are required to keep a wood burner going, whilst eight logs are needed to burn for an hour in an open fire. You certainly get more for your money when burning logs on a wood burner.
“Similarly, a wood burning stove is 60% more efficient at heating the home as heat transfer is convected into the room, rather than being lost up the chimney as conventional open fireplaces do.”
“Many customers tell us that a single wood burner provides enough heat to warm their entire property, without the need for mains heating – this is particularly important in rural areas where mains fuels supply from gas aren’t always available. Similarly, oil is a very expensive way to heat a home, at around £2,500-£3,000 to fill the tank every year and thousands to install in the first place.”
How can I minimise my emissions?
“Investing in a modern, clean burning Ecodesign Ready stove can reduce emissions by up to 90%, compared to a traditional open fire. Consider replacing an open fireplace with a closed wood burning stove and choose a size of stove to suit the room size you want to heat.
“The stove should be cleaned out regularly, to remove excess ash, soot and debris, as this will ensure a more efficient burn. Every year get your stove serviced by a professional chimney sweep, as this will troubleshoot any issues and ensure the stove is working at its best year-round.”
Sourcing the best firewood
“Using firewood contributes to fuel independence as it can nearly always be sourced locally, within a 30-100-mile radius.
“Purchase the best seasoned, dry or kiln-dried wood you can afford from a recommended supplier and look out for the Woodsure ‘Ready to Burn’ label which guarantees a moisture content between 12% and 20%. This will also ensure maximum efficiency from your wood-burning stove.
“Never burn wet, treated (polished or varnished) or mixed wood products (commonly found on building sites), as these can damage the stove flue and produce a lot of smoke. Hardwood species such as ash, oak, beech or birch will burn the cleanest and longest with a bright flame.”
For more information on Contura, please visit http://www.contura.eu
Notes to editors:
Rooster PR will coordinate comment, interview and profile opportunities for Contura UK Country Manager, Phil Wood. The Contura PR team will also arrange visits to the nearest Contura Design Centre dealerships or the Contura showroom in Doncaster to see the product range.
For further press information, please contact:
Elsa Findlay | Jo Kendall | Julie Aguilera
T: +44 (0)20 3440 8930
E: [email protected]
Contura is Europe’s leading manufacturer of wood burning stoves, offering an extensive range of classic and contemporary wood burners; from traditional insert stoves suitable for existing fireplaces, to freestanding statement models made with innovative materials such as soapstone.
Starting at £1,095, Contura stoves are premium yet affordable. Award winning, timeless Swedish design means the products complement or enhance any style of home, whilst also offering outstanding performance, maximum efficiency, practicality and ease of use.
Designed and assembled at the factory located in Markaryd, Sweden, and manufactured to the highest standards, Contura stoves are highly energy efficient, offering powerful convection, superior combustion technology and clean burning systems. Currently, 95% of Contura stoves are DEFRA Clean Air Act exempt and thus approved for use in Smoke Control Areas.
Contura stoves can be purchased through a network of 165 independent retailers nationwide.
Contura is part of the NIBE group, a Swedish manufacturing company producing world class solutions in sustainable energy across Europe, North America, Asia and Australia.
Contura is a founding member of the Stove Industry Alliance (SIA) in the UK.
For more information please visit www.contura.eu