Baby, it’s cold outside…So you think you want a wood burning stove? Here’s what you need to know.
When we moved into our house we already knew that one of the first things we were going to tackle was the fireplace. And by tackle, I mean get rid of the old one and replace it with something else. If I’m honest I hardly considered a wood burner because at that stage I didn’t think we needed a working heat source, given that I am married to a hot blooded man who objects to having the heating on in even the depths of winter.
At some point in it’s chequered past the original Victorian fireplace in our house had been ripped out and replaced with a gas burning ‘Hole in the Wall’ fire. It was completely open and full of faux coals which glowed when heated and were therefore utterly irresistible to a three-year-old boy. So it wasn’t very practical, it certainly didn’t look very attractive, and what we didn’t know was that it was trying to kill us all too! Just a few days after moving in we smelled gas, called the gas man who promptly put the house on lockdown because of dangerous levels of gas emissions…all in all it was a great start to our new home.
So we got that thing taken out of commission as soon as possible, I found a lovely old reconditioned fireplace on Ebay and had it fitted with a cheap reproduction surround. But here’s the thing…while the fire itself looks very nice, it’s just for show, it doesn’t actually function. And that cheap surround is one of my biggest renovation regrets so far. I wish we’d spent the extra money and got the marble one we wanted.
Add to this that recently quite a few of our friends have had wood burning stoves fitted, including 2LG’s Jordan and Russell (top image), and I’ve slowly but surely fallen for their charms. They are just so cosy! So when Arada approached me about writing a blogpost for them, I took this as a sign. It was the perfect opportunity to find out more, and determine whether this is an option for us in the future. And if it is, can I get it past the hot husband?
So here’s what I needed/you need to know…
Am I even allowed one, I heard they are going to be banned?
Don’t worry, the stoves aren’t going to be banned. Instead the government wants to educate consumers on how to buy the most efficient stove, and use it to minimise any pollution caused. So as of next year (2019) you will only be allowed to burn seasoned, or dry wood, on your stove. Wet wood, or coal, will no longer be allowed because it produces a lot more smoke. And more smoke means more pollution.
Are they eco-friendly?
It’s a commonly accepted fact that relatively high emissions come from old stoves and open fires. Lack of maintenance and bad burning practice leads to visible smoke, which in turn affects the air quality in both homes and the wider environment. From 2022, a new European-wide law comes into effect which is aimed at lowering these emissions and improving air quality. Luckily Arada is way ahead of the game by already ensuring its new products meet the requirements of the new legislation with it’s new Ecodesign Ready Farringdon stove. These stoves produce much lower emissions than an open fire or old style stoves. How do they do it? Well, it’s complicated, but it involves the recirculation of unburnt gases back into the burn chamber, allowing for a fuller combustion process, which in turn reduces nasty emissions like carbon monoxide and nitrogen oxide.
Where can I put it?
Wood burning stoves are pretty versatile and you can fit them in lots of places that you couldn’t put an open fire. But you need to get professional advice from an installer before you go getting carried away and finding the perfect spot for it. An existing fireplace is an obvious choice (in our house at least) but you do need to make sure you have the right sized flue and liner installed. All stoves must meet UK building regulations. So there are specifications around how the flue is fitted, the size of the hearth or the distance of the stove from combustibles. These can all affect the type of stove you can have, so make sure you speak to an installer before buying. If you live in a listed building, this may affect your options.
Which one do I need?
A key part of choosing the right stove for your home is getting the right size and heat output, which is measured in kilowatts (kW) and ranges from 3kW to over 15kW. If you get a stove that has too high an output for your home, you will end up overheating. The size you need is affected by the size of the room, the layout of the room, the size of the windows and whether you have double glazing, whether the room has insulation of any kind, such as wall or cavity insulation and the age of the property. As a rough guide, to make your room 21°C when it’s 1°C outside, you will need 1kW of heat output for every 14 cubic metres of space.
Will it cut down our energy bills?
It should keep your heating bills down, as long as you don’t have the rest of the house cranked up to melting point. Wood burners deliver a constant radiant heat and have the ability to regulate the heat they provide and how fast they burn their fuel.
What can I burn in it?
If you live in a smoke-controlled area (and the chances are you do) and you want to burn wood, you will have to get a stove which has been approved by Defra. If you don’t want to do that, then you will only be allowed to burn smokeless fuels such as anthracite on a multi-fuel stove. And if you ignore all of this and flout the rules you could be fined £1000.
If you do opt for a Defra approved stove, as of next year you can only burn seasoned, or dry, wood. This should have a moisture content of less than 20% to meet the new legislation requirements. Arada are currently giving a moisture meter away when you buy one of their Ecodesign Ready stoves so you can test it before you burn it. So you’ll have no excuses for wet wood.
But will it suit my house?
Stoves can make a design statement in themselves. Arada’s stoves come in 7 different colours. I have to say I favour the classic Midnight black stoves, but if Atlantic or Spice is more your thing, you only have to ask. In terms of the overall feel, how it looks will depend on where you position it. If you slot it into an existing fireplace it will maintain that traditional fireplace feel with a mantelpiece around it, whereas a standalone one will look more modern and industrial.
Am I going to be constantly cleaning it?
No. Wood burning stoves produce a lot less mess than open fires that’s for sure. But much like anything, they do need cleaning on a yearly basis to keep them working at their optimum ability. Factor in having the chimney swept at least once a year and get your stove regularly serviced.
Is my hot husband going to have to spend the whole time in his pants?
Possibly. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
Head to Arada Stoves to see the full range of styles and colours and let me know if you have any other questions that I haven’t answered here.
This is a paid partnership with Arada stoves but the idea for this feature, words and thoughts are all my own.