When Heart was established, one of our aims was to promote the use of wood as a fuel for heating. Our company is run by avid wood fuel users, indeed we have been using more and more wood as electricity and gas prices have been increasing over the past few years. One of the issues people face when it comes to using wood as a fuel is accessibility and supply. The UK is behind other European countries in the availability of reliable regional suppliers of good quality firewood, but this situation is slowly improving.
Supply and demand
If more people take up using wood as a heating source then it will enable suppliers to further gear up to meet this demand and this in turn will have the benefit of creating jobs in supporting industries such as forestry management, wood fuel processing, farmland management and biomass engineering. It also has a positive effect on the environment since improved forestry management benefits wildlife habitats and it is widely accepted that using wood as a fuel source is carbon neutral or a low carbon fuel due to the carbon balance of growth and decay.
One concern that potential woodburner users have is “won’t I be producing pollution by burning wood” and “what about all that smoke”. Well it is true that you can produce a considerable amount of harmful gases by burning wood and a lot of smoke, but, if you use a high efficiency wood burner and good quality, seasoned wood then you can achieve a high heat output with low emissions (compared to burning poor quality wood or using an open fire). Indeed, modern wood burning stoves are designed to burn off a very high percentage of the hydrocarbons and smoke particles before the combustion gases leave the flue. This is what manufacturers refer to as cleanburn, clearview, afterburn, secondary ignition or advanced combustion. It basically means that the gases released during the initial combustion of wood are circulated in the wood burner, to be burnt off in a secondary burn. It is this process that allows wood burners to reach their high temperatures. Any smoke emitted from the flue is wasted energy.
Wood and your ‘burner’
If you are already a ‘wood burner’ and are having trouble getting the technique right, then firstly check your wood. It should be dry and well seasoned – ask your supplier how long they season for, also possibly try looking at using Heat Logs (compressed waste-wood logs) along with regular firewood. Then read our section on wood burning technique. It contains a useful guide on burning wood.
Your chimney should be swept at least once a year and more often if you use your woodburner regularly. Your woodburner should be serviced every other year and you should carry out basic cleaning of it regularly. We have carried out dozens of wood burner services where the air channels and flue connectors were so clogged with ash and bitumen that it was no wonder the stove was having trouble working efficiently. Finally, if you think your wood burner needs a service, get in touch for a no obligation quote or just some advice.