1:00 AM 10th February 2024
Making The Most Of Your Wood Burning Stove
Temperatures in the UK plunged to as low as -14oC this January. Throughout cold snaps, many of us are reliant on central heating, while 1.5 million households are using wood burners to keep warm this winter. But there’s more to a wood burner than simply starting the fire. Here, Stuart Fitzgerald, managing director at firewood supplier Firewood.co.uk
, explores the benefits of a wood burner and how to maximise its efficiency.
With oil and gas prices continuing to soar, the Stove Industry Alliance (SIA) has recognised that people are seeking an alternative source of energy to heat their homes.
According to figures from the SIA, wood burner sales were up by 67 per cent in the last quarter of 2022, compared to the previous year. With the cost of energy bills averaging as high as £1,328 in 2023, wood burners have provided a slightly more affordable alternative to central heating, but how do you make the most of your wood burning stove?
Not just any old wood
Prioritising the quality of the wood you burn is crucial to the efficiency of the fire and its impact on the environment. Soft wood, for example, may seem like the ideal choice, but it burns fast. This is because softwood lacks density at a cellular level, and as such, burns very quickly. Instead, hardwood has a higher density and therefore burns longer. Hardwood briquettes are a suitable choice for those looking for the right balance of economy, heat output and burn time.
Optimal burning wood must also have a moisture content of less than 20 per cent. Anything higher than this wastes energy burning off the excess moisture, releasing more smoke, and causing an inefficient burn. The best solution is to buy wood that’s already kiln dried and ready to burn, rather than sourcing wood and drying it yourself.
Wet wood must be kiln dried at controlled temperatures or seasoned until it reaches the right moisture content, and the length of time to season wood will vary and is dependent on many drying factors. In this case, firewood experts like Firewood.co.uk
, which provide high-quality kiln dried firewood and wood briquettes.
Loading your wood burner
It’s also important to think about how wood is stacked in the stove. A common mistake is to overload the burner thinking that the more wood, the more fire. But overloading actually restricts airflow and causes incomplete combustion. This produces more smoke and increases the likelihood of creosote build-up in the chimney, which is not only a fire risk, but also means less heat is produced.
Maintenance in mind
During the burning season you can help the efficiency of your wood burner by sticking to some simple maintenance routines. Firstly, keeping a tidy fireplace and regularly clearing debris from previous burns will make a big difference. However, it’s a good idea to leave a small bed of ash to light your new fire in. This is because the draw of air for a wood burning stove comes from above, not below. If you feel you’re racing through your log store, check if you have the bottom vent open and, or, no ash bed to set your fire on. If so, there is a good chance this is why your firewood is being burnt through quicker than normal a flash.
The interior of the wood burner should also be cleaned at least once a month, using a solution and scrubbing brush. However, be sure the interior dries completely before the next use, as moisture can impact the fire lighting process and cause an inefficient burn that emits more smoke. This monthly clean is also a good time to check for any structural damage or cracks in the glass front and speak to a professional about any repairs.
In terms of larger maintenance tasks it’s recommended that the chimney is swept at least once a year to limit creosote build-up, although frequent usage will require more cleaning.
As winter weather continues to bite, heating up homes is at the forefront of many minds. But the reliance on heat is unlikely to change until we reach Spring. If you’re considering a wood burner, the benefits are clear. But it’s only possible to achieve maximum efficiency if proper maintenance, usage and storage guideless are followed.