There is something cosy about entering a room with a wood burner crackling away in the background. However, over the last few years they have received something of a bad press. with central heating seen as the norm for most houses, wood burners are associated with old properties that need bringing up to date or high-end properties where they are designed to look good. But actually, with changes to wood burners and the introduction of eco wood burners they have become a practical, alternative, virtually carbon neutral way to heat your home.
What Was the Concern?
Before the introduction of the eco wood burner, pollution was the concern. In rural areas where properties are further apart there was less of a concern, but in high density housing smoke-controlled areas were put in place to avoid everyone being able to send plumes of smoke up the chimney. It has been decided that by January 2022 every single stove sold in the UK must meet the eco-design and this has been carefully constructed to reduce any harmful emissions caused by gaseous compounds by up to 80% because they burn wood in a more efficient way.
The Clean Air Act was also updated to ensure that anyone who owns a wood burning stove must not emit a dark smoke from the chimney especially if they live in a smoke-controlled area. Dark smoke tends to come from damp wood or indeed burning substances that aren't wood. The problem with the emissions in built up areas like London for example is people breed in the emissions and can create cardiovascular disease and respiratory ailment. This means that owners of older style stoves will be required to replace them with eco designed wood burning stoves and most suppliers like ourselves no longer stuck anything if it does not meet this specification.
A Two-Part Concern
By forcing people to only install wood burners that meet their eco-friendly specifications, half of the problem is being addressed. The other part is down to education to ensure that the wood you burn is dry, and ideally seasoned giving a moisture content of less than 20%. Wood should not be painted or treated in any way as this can lead to the emission of harmful fumes as it burns. A modern Defra approved wood burner will cut the emissions or the concerning particles of the emissions by a figure of up to 90% when compared to an open fire.
Coal burning stoves are also a concern, because coal is not something that can burn cleanly due to the very nature. You will find a range of other smokeless fuels on offer but again you need to take care to understand what pollutants and emissions these might give off when they burn. Smoke list does not necessarily mean no emissions. If you use wood as your main fuel source and ensure that the moisture content remains below 20% you are actually not only contributing to a reduction of the dangerous emissions but actually improving the quality of the air.
A Responsible Source of Wood
Picking up fallen wood when you go about your daily life perhaps walking the dog seems attractive to many people but can actually add to the problem anything you pick up off the ground is going to be wet, and would need to be seasoned well before you burn it. The best way to use a wood burner to create yourself an eco-friendly carbon neutral experience is to find a supplier of well-seasoned wood close to your home. The particles emitted by wood burners are known as PM2.5 and PM10 and the aim with seasoned wood is to bring these particles down to a minimum. Kiln dried wood is one of your best options and it should have been dried for at least a year before it is sold. It is worth doing some research and finding companies that are genuine. Burning wood that is wet can also cause it to burn a lot slower and not actually create the heat you are looking for in a room.
It is actually possible for a qualified chimney engineer to determine what you have been burning and in the current climate it is likely that people refusing to comply with regulations will be investigated further. Your wood burner is not a waste disposal unit, you cannot throw your old post and paper in there. Paper is treated and can give off some very noxious fumes when burned. You also cannot dispose of things like wooden pallets as these tend to have been treated. Some companies are going to great lengths to ensure that your wood burner is delivered on a pallet that has not been treated and therefore can be used as your starting source of wood , but do not assume this is the case they will tell you if it is.
The bottom line is that if you are looking to have a wood burner installed over the next couple of years you should make sure that this is a different approved eco wood burner so stop anything else would be a waste of your money, as after 2022 you could be forced to have it replaced. You also need to find a good, reliable source of kiln dried wood and make sure that you can store it without letting it get wet again. Don't go into a project thinking that you can just find scrap wood lying around the countryside and use this as your primary source of fuel. New regulations always generate new levels of testing and vigilance from the authorities putting them in place so you will certainly be running a huge risk. That said a well installed eco-friendly wood burner that is supplied with kiln dried wood can be an excellent carbon neutral source of heating for your home and there is certainly something very appealing about curling up in front of a wood burning fire when the snow is coming down outside.