One of the best things about owning your home is having the freedom to make any changes you like. We all have different tastes, requirements, and priorities. We decorate our homes in different styles, sometimes going with the changing fashions, sometimes sticking to a timeless, ‘classic’ look.
These days, more people are seeking ways of reducing their ‘global footprint’ as concerns about the environment grow year by year. Some of us look for changes that will add value to our homes with a view to selling them further down the line. Others simply want to add sophistication and style, bringing a fresh, modern feel to their home. Nearly all of us want to save money on energy bills as they continually creep upwards.
It may come as a surprise to learn that there is a way to do all four at the same time, with a wood-burning stove. The range of styles is huge, from the nostalgic black cast-iron type to sleek, cylindrical units. Contemporary stoves are available in such colours as cream, white, steel, and grey. Whatever your taste, there’s sure to be a stove that will complete your home.
Why fit a wood burner?
Chimneys are still a familiar sight in many cities, towns, and villages across the country. Even in modern housing estates, they are often added as an attractive architectural feature. An open fire is a comforting thing, especially in the winter months. It brings a cozy, traditional atmosphere that makes Christmas seem more magical. The sad fact is that as you toast your toes by those flickering flames, most of the heat is lost via the chimney – up to 90% of it. Open fires are actually one of the least efficient methods of heating available.
A wood-burning stove will be – without a doubt – be more efficient. Modern stoves range from around 70 to 99% efficient, with an average efficiency of around 77 – 80%. And what’s more, if you do have an existing chimney, it will be sealed up, eliminating draughts.
Before having one installed, however, you will need to find out which type suits your needs.
Wet or Dry System?
Wood-burning stoves basically come in two different types; wet or dry. A dry system is the simplest type, only heating the room it’s in (though they are so efficient that the heat often spreads further!). Wood-burning stove wet systems, however, have an integral boiler which is attached to a hot water tank. This can be used to heat the rest of your home and provide hot water for all your other needs.
The benefits of a woodburning stove (wet systems)
For homeowners who are trying to live a more ‘green’ lifestyle, avoiding fossil fuels as far as possible, a wood-burning stove wet system could help to achieve these goals. Most can also be combined with solar panels to provide you with eco-friendly hot water and heating throughout the year. The number of radiators you choose is up to you, but bear in mind that the more there are, the more fuel will be required.
Wood-burning stove wet systems (also called Boiler Stoves) are ideal for sustainable new builds that are constructed to a high specification. The amount of heat required will be low, which, combined with the super efficiency of the stove, will mean that energy costs will be a fraction of those connected with gas or oil.
This is especially the case where people choose an ‘off-grid’ lifestyle, where access to a free supply of seasoned wood is likely to be available.
Points to consider
Although stoves can be a great feature, you have to be sure it is the right choice for your home. Here are some issues you might want to think over.
- Installation – fitting a ‘wet’ system stove involves more work than a ‘dry’ unit, as there are more components involved. Work will necessarily take longer. These two factors will increase the cost, which may impact the overall savings. But if reducing your environmental impact is your main concern then this is unlikely to deter you.
- Feeding the fire – if you will be relying on the boiler for hot water and heating during the colder seasons, then the stove will need regular ‘feeding’. If there is nobody home to do this then – obviously – the fuel will run out, along with your hot water and heat.
- Space – you will need to house a ‘thermal store’, which generally takes up more room than the average airing cupboard. A place to store the fuel (whether logs or pellets) will have to be set aside too.
Although there are people who have successfully fitted their own stove systems, it is always advisable to leave it to qualified professionals. Any leaks or gaps could allow carbon monoxide into your home – with deadly results. Always fit a carbon monoxide alarm, whoever installs your system. Also, with wood-burning stoves wet systems, there are the added hazards of boiling water. An incorrectly fitted boiler (perhaps with inadequate venting) will lead to a build-up of steam that could result in an explosion. Entire systems have overheated, making the header tank melt and collapse. A qualified, ‘competent person’ will install the system correctly, with added safety features so you can rest assured that all is well.
So, if you have the space and the inclination, you might consider having a ‘wet system’ wood-burning stove installed, either as part of a new build or to replace your existing energy supply. Though some people have been put off by the upheaval of installation (and maybe the costs involved) if you ask anyone who has been through the process they will, almost without exception, tell you it was worth it.
Not only will your energy bills be drastically reduced, but you’ll also be doing your bit for the environment and will have improved the look and feel of your home. When you consider these points alone, you can see why so many people are warming to the idea.
How can we help
With years experience of fitting and removing dry stove systems and wet stove systems we can advise and give you a free survey to get your job started in as safe a way as possible.
- Back boiler removal
- Wet system installations
- Dry system installations
- Buy a wood burning stove
- Wood burner stove installations