Burn wood, not cash! Buying a wood burning stove
Trying to save money in these difficult economic times has led many people to go back to cost effective basics when it comes to heating homes. More and more folk have found switching from oil or gas to buying a wood burning fire set-up to be an efficient choice. Customers of mine in Tonbridge, Tunbridge Wells and Sevenoaks have found it more cost effective. People make these changes for numerous reasons, such as:-
- Wood burning fires can be cheaper to use in the long run.
- Heat from a well maintained wood stove quickly warms a room.
- Wood burning fireplaces create a classic look and give rooms a ‘snug’ feel.
- They do less damage to the environment than some other fuel sources.
Does the idea of warming your toes by a cozy fireplace appeal to you? Or are you still unsure about it? Please read on!
Buying your first wood burning stove can be daunting if you don’t know what you’re looking for. There are lots of factors which can be confusing if you aren’t armed with the right information. A customer of mine in Hildenborough put off buying a stove for two years because she didn’t like all the technicalities involved. Then I pointed her in the right direction and now she’s glad to have invested in a wood burning stove!
Let’s be clear – investing in a wood burner isn’t as big a task as it looks. Here are the main factors to consider:-
1. How much should I spend?
Prices range from anywhere between £200 to thousands of pounds. The more expensive stoves cost more due to the style rather than substance. This might be an important factor for you.
I don’t recommend buying stoves below £600. If you want something cost effective long-term and that gives a decent amount of heat, look at the range between £600 and £1,500. Stoves in that price barrier look good and are easy to run if well maintained.
I would urge anyone wanting a wood burning stove to explore all options, from local suppliers to large chain stores. The variety of stoves is endless but watch out! A customer in East Sussex bought the first stove which caught his fancy at a local popular hardware chain. The stove has given him endless trouble –never giving the right temperature, no matter how much wood was burnt. He has now replaced it with a cheaper but efficient stove. The lesson to learn here: if he had shopped around in the first place, he would have saved hundreds of pounds.
2. What kind of stove should I buy?
There are two main questions: (i) What features should it have? And (ii) How should it look? Let’s start with the practicalities.
Wood burning only or multi fuel?
If you want to burn wood only and no other material such as coal, then a dedicated wood burning stove is the best option. It will give off more heat compared to a multi fuel stove of the same value and be more environmentally friendly. If you want to burn anything else, opt for a multi fuel stove. Just make sure you maintain it properly and it is of good quality.
Now you have chosen the basic structure, let’s look at the optional features:-
A clean burning system is a supercharger for your fireplace. Your stove is built to take in more air and substances that would just drift up your chimney get burnt. That means you can expect to get more heat out of your fuel and less waste products.
The spectacle of flames roaring heartily from a fireplace is a comforting sight. People find it therapeutic. However glass at the front of the stove can get gummed up with fire waste. That’s why a stove purchase should include an airwash feature. This feature pulls in air along the glass, making it less likely for soot, tar and other by-products to stick and block the view of the flames.
Emissions from household fireplaces can be limited in ‘smoke control areas’. So it is vital to make sure your stove is an approved appliance. It is against the law to burn smoking fuels in an unapproved appliance. If your stove is not approved, you can only burn a few smokeless fuels. Check this out before you buy a stove. The costs of spending more on a stove you can legally use regularly are less than hefty fines!
Let’s look at style!
This is a very individual choice – each to his own! We all have different tastes. How there are some pointers you might want to consider:-
Cast iron stoves are more likely to crack than steel stoves. It could be worth investing in better quality material.
- What you see online might not match your expectations. Try and see stoves before you purchase. Quality varies massively from supplier to supplier.
- Curved glass can be attractive but any replacement needed can be very costly.
- Storage areas for wood underneath some stoves seem practical but most are much too small.
- Contemporary-looking stoves tend to be more expensive. Take a tape measure with you when shopping for stoves so you can see if a stove will fit the dimensions of your room before you purchase.
3. What size should I buy?
Buying a wood burning stove isn’t just about deciding you have enough space in your living room or other area. Remember the primary reason for a stove is to give off heat. So there are factors to consider when deciding how much energy you need from a stove. Insulation already in the home and the number of rooms needing heat are just two examples.
Heat from a fire is measured in kilowatts (KW). I suggest that a small house (bungalow or two-bed) needs a small fire giving between 4KW and 7KW. Larger homes need a 7KW to 12KW heat output from a bigger stove.
Tip: Keeping the door of your fireplace room shut will retain heat and be more cost effective!
4. How much does installing a wood stove cost?
Before buying a wood burning stove, get advice from James the Sweep to see if your home is suitable for the appliance. For example, you might be unaware of a disused chimney breast which could fit a flue for your fire.
Stove installations can cost between £200 and a few thousand pounds – with results varying widely between fitters. I can point you in the right direction of a reputable fitter if you live in Tonbridge; Tunbridge Wells; Seven Oaks; Hildenborough; Crowborough and Uckfield. Contact me for more information.
5. How much does it cost to run?
If you want to save money on overall heating costs, then a near-replacement of your fuel source such as gas may help. The more wood you use, the more money you spend. Nevertheless it will still be up to a few hundred pounds less than gas or oil.
6. Where can I buy a wood burning stove?
Pop down to one of the Adena Fires showrooms in Cranbrook or Tunbridge Wells and check out their large range of wood burning stoves and Cookers. www.adenafires.co.uk
Look at other pages on this website to get more out of your wood burning stove for less money.
Information about wood burning stoves: http://www.jamesthesweep.co.uk/Information-about-wood-burning-stoves.asp
Maximising wood burning eficiency: http://www.jamesthesweep.co.uk/Maximising-wood-burning-efficiency.asp
Choosing the right wood to burn: http://www.jamesthesweep.co.uk/Choosing-the-right-wood-to-burn.asp
Being environmentally friendly: http://www.jamesthesweep.co.uk/Being-Environmentally-friendly.asp
I hope you found this guide useful. If you have any comments, please get in touch with me via the contact form on this website.