Can you imagine anything more heart-warming on a cold winter’s night that sitting at home, with a glass of wine perhaps, beside a wood burning stove? Or should that be hearth-warming?
The fact is that mankind has been keeping snug and warm, burning solid fuel on open fires or in stoves since our earliest times.
And there’s something really satisfying about watching flames (especially in safety from behind the glass window of a wood burning stove). Something almost instinctive which says “you’re home, warm and safe beside the fire”.
Choosing the right stove
With the wide range of stoves available it is important to choose the stove that is right for you.
The starting point is whether you want to heat a single room or the whole house. There is a wide variety of styles to suit all tastes from the traditional to very contemporary. Matching the heat output of a stove with the room it is going to heat is very important and it is best to take advice on this. Most stove retailers are very knowledgeable and willing to give advice. Look for the CE mark when purchasing. It is now compulsory to have a CE mark. Both Ryan Stoves and Murphy Heating are excellent retailers stocking a variety of well-known brands to suit everyone’s tastes and requirements. They also have the expertise on hand to help you make that all important decision and take the guess work out of what’s a very important purchase.
It is vital to look for high quality when choosing your stove. All registered stove systems are listed on Sustainable Energy Ireland’s Home-heating Appliance Register of Performance (HARP) database or the HETAS Guide. You should consult these databases prior to selecting a stove. www.seai.ie and www.hetas.co.uk. Check to see whether the stove has been manufactured to Irish and European standards
- CE Mark – this means that they comply with the essential requirements of the European health, safety and environmental protection legislation.
- ISO certified – IS0 9000 Quality Standard and ISO 14001 Environmental standard – these are the Quality and Environmental standard set by NSAI (National Standards Authority of Ireland)
- Q Mark – EIQA certification confirms a manufacturer’s commitment to the highest standards of quality and excellence.
- BER Requirements – current building regulations as set out by the Department of Environment
The HETAS Guide is a handy way to check the pedigree of a stove but it is not mandatory to be in the guide and some of the best European manufacturers are not in it. Check the efficiency of the stove. The better stoves have efficiencies in excess of 70% and some more than 80%. The efficiency reflects the amount of heat being delivered into the room. Installing a stove is not a DIY job and a competent installer should be engaged if you want to get the full benefits from your stove.
As the name suggests, if a stove is described as a wood burner then it’s designed to burn wood (naturally) that’s been seasoned for at least two years in a dry area with good air circulation. This type of wood burns hotter and more efficiently than wood that’s new or wet and reduces the amount of creosote in your chimney lining.
What’s more, there are many key benefits to heating your home with a wood burning or solid fuel stove. For example, with a solid fuel or wood burning stove, you don’t have to worry when there’s a power cut as your appliance can be relied upon to be a constant heat source at any time.
It’s better for the environment too, simply because burning timber from managed or coppiced forests helps conserve fossil fuels and is very cost efficient. After all, wood is essentially a waste material if it is just left to rot.
In fact using a wood burning stove can offer a carbon neutral, wholly sustainable heat source – simply because trees (when they are growing) take in carbon dioxide which sooner or later must be released when they die and either rot where they fall or their wood is burnt.
Heat your home with a wood burning boiler stove
Make no mistake. Wood is plentiful, especially from one of today’s sustainable resources from managed or coppiced forests. Its price, when you have to buy it at all, is stable unlike some of the other limited resources in the world such as gas and oil.
But did you know that you can use a wood burning boiler stove for your hot water – and heat your entire home with a complete central heating system? Back boiler log burning stoves can even reduce your home’s CO2 emissions!
A wood burning stove can be linked up to your existing central heating system (run by oil or gas) to reduce your home heating bills, or it can even be combined with combi boilers, under floor heating or solar thermal panels to help make you extremely environmentally friendly.
Some boiler stoves look like a familiar and traditional wood burning stove, no bigger than the same stove without a boiler as the boiler is sited inside the stove, while others you may think resemble a standard gas or oil central heating boiler.
But they both do the same job, transferring heat from the boiler to your domestic hot water, via a storage tank, where it can be efficiently piped through to where it’s most needed.
Heat produced by wood burning boiler stoves is measured in btu’s. And as a useful rule of thumb, you should allow 9,000-10,000 btu’s to heat hot water in the average sized home and around 4,000 btu’s to heat each individual radiator in your home’s central heating system.
You should check the compatibility of your existing central heating system with a qualified installer before purchasing any boiler stove or heating stove.
In summary, there’s no question that wood is cheaper than other fuels. According to SEAI, the delivered energy cost per kWh is only 5.99c for wood in comparison with 7.6c for natural gas and 64.75c for electricity. If you have a wood supply available to you, this means little to no cost and even if you are purchasing wood, either logs or pellets, there are savings to be made here. A good stove typically costs from a few hundred euro to a few thousand supplied and installed, and you should always check with the supplier if the cost of the flue is included in the price. Their longevity is in the region of 5-30 years, but it really depends on how you use the stove. It’s also worth considering investing in a reputable brand because you’ll have the guarantee of being able to pick up spare parts if necessary.
One of the disadvantages of having a wood-burning stove is that you need somewhere to store the timber. In suburban areas, where garden size might be very small, this could prove problematic but if purchased on a weekly/monthly basis it shouldn’t cause too many problems. Another issue is that the demand for them has seen a lot of models coming on the market; people are seeing competitive prices and purchasing wood-burning stoves without first doing the research to see if that particular stove can be installed in their homes or what type of quality are they getting. Get the right advice from some of the reputable stove suppliers in this issue and enjoy your new purchase with peace of mind.