Wood burners: are they cheaper than central heating?

Before central heating, fire was the main method of keeping a home warm. But when radiators were introduced widely during the 1960s and 1970s, many stoves and stoves in older homes were either removed or fell into disrepair.

The last time the government restocked in 2015, it found that only 7.5 per cent of the UK population was burning wood to help keep warm, with just 2.3 per cent using it as their only source of heat.

But now all the evidence suggests that families who fear rising energy bills are turning back to wood-burning stoves to save money.

Urge: Brits are turning to wood-burning stoves in a bid to lower their energy bills

Urge: Brits are turning to wood-burning stoves in a bid to lower their energy bills

Dealers who install and clean wood stoves have been working hard to meet demand this year, according to clean fuels organization Hetas.

Hetas CEO Bruce Allen said the company has “seen unprecedented demand for solid fuel heating this winter.”

“Demand has reached such a point that some of our approved heating and chimney sweeps have to confirm bookings well into 2023 in order to keep up with the number of inquiries they receive,” he added.

The average energy bill is currently £2,500 per year for average usage, rising to £3,000 from April 2023 until April 2024.

We take a look at how much it costs to buy and install a wood stove, and how much money it can save on bills — plus wonder if it will keep you warm.

Are wood stoves cheaper than central heating?

The answer is, it depends. To really address the question, individuals need to evaluate the size of the stove they have, the central heating system, how warm they like it, and the cost of wood versus gas or electricity.

However, as a rough rule of thumb, it is always cheaper to buy and burn logs than to use gas central heating or electric heaters, provided you have a wood stove already installed.

Bruce Allen said seasoned logs are “the cheapest home heating fuel after kerosene, costing homeowners 10.37p per kWh versus 12.81p per kWh for mains gas and 39.21p per kWh for electric”.

log cost: a cubic meter of lumber is about 300 lots, it will cost you £120 to £200

log cost: a cubic meter of lumber is about 300 lots, it will cost you £120 to £200

But what wood stoves do is different from what central heating does. This is because central heating usually heats every room in the house, while a wood stove or open fire heats only one room.

However, some wood stove users claim they can heat multiple rooms with just one fire. It is possible to heat your entire home with a boiler that burns wood, solid fuels, or bioethanol, but these are not common.

But even a wood stove that heats only one room effectively can cut heating bills, because it means central heating doesn’t need to be turned on as frequently or as high.

Each 1C reduction in thermostat temperature could save £80 a year in heating costs, according to experts at the Energy Saving Trust.

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How much does a log burner cost?

If you do not have a log burner installed, a new one will cost from around £400 to £2,000, plus labor and installation costs which will be up to £2,000.

If your property does not have a chimney, you will need to install a “double wall chimney system” – a large pipe that acts as a chimney. This can cost in the region of £3,500, or possibly more.

The initial cost is high, but with average energy bills likely to remain above £1,000 per annum for the rest of the decade, having a fitted wood stove can still make sense as a long-term investment.

Concentrated heat: A wood stove will usually only heat one room - although some users say they can warm multiple rooms with a single fire

Concentrated heat: A wood stove will usually only heat one room – although some users say they can warm multiple rooms with a single fire

How much do records cost?

If you have access to free wood, logs will cost you absolutely nothing—but most log-burning families buy seasoned firewood from a professional.

Logs are sold by weight or by cubic size. A cubic meter of wood is about 300 lots, and costs about £120 to £200.

Depending on how often you use your wood stove you may need between 2 to 6 cubic meters of wood per year, so £240 to £1200 but most sellers will offer a discount for larger orders.

Is a wood stove prohibited in some areas?

On January 1 of this year, the government introduced new rules for new wood-burning stoves.

These rules mean that all new wood stoves must meet green environmental design standards on how much pollution they cause. However, ancient stoves are exempt from these rules.

cost of living

New stoves also have baseboards around the hearth – the heat-insulating area around the stove itself. These standards state that a wood stove must have a footprint of 30cm in front, at least 15cm on each side and that the entire hearth should be 84cm x 84cm in size and at least 1.2cm thick.

If your burner makes the burner hotter than 100°C, it should be 1 inch (2.5 cm) thick instead.

Since May of this year, firewood sold in quantities less than 2 cubic meters must have a moisture content of 20 percent or less.

This is a rule for the sellers, not the people who buy or burn the wood. But it is not recommended to burn firewood with a moisture content of more than 20 percent.

Not only is wet wood harder to burn, it also produces less heat and more pollution than drier wood.

There are also many “smoke control zones” where homes and businesses can only burn fuel that is smokeless or low-emission or use a stove that is green enough to meet government emissions rules.

For example, almost all of London is subject to these rules, as well as large areas of the post-industrial north.

Finally, when using a wood-burning stove or campfire, ensure your safety. Burn only wood or suitable fuel, clean your chimney once a year and purchase a carbon monoxide alarm.

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