Survey highlights need for advice when buying a wood burning stoves

As Which? release findings showing 7% of homeowners in the UK were given no information when buying their wood burning stove, Bruce Allen, CEO of HETAS sheds light on why it is so important to ask the experts.

It is imperative consumers get expert advice and the right appliance for their home when considering buying a wood burning stove. We welcome this research from Which? which shows how great it can be to have a modern, clean and efficient stove; and also the dangers of solid fuel appliances when installed or used incorrectly. To make sure appliances work safely and efficiently, it’s key that installation and servicing is carried out by a properly trained and HETAS-registered competent person to enjoy all the benefits of a wood burning stove.

For homeowners thinking about installing a solid fuel or wood burner, Building Regulation standards must be met, and notification made to the local authority. The Which? results show, when buying their stove, over half of those questioned (53%) weren’t made aware of the need to conform to building regulations and 79% weren’t told they must inform building control.

The best way to ensure you meet the necessary requirements is to use a HETAS Registered Installer who has undertaken rigorous training and testing to ensure they meet the correct standards. As part of their service they will notify your local authority via HETAS on your behalf.

Stoves have become more sophisticated pieces of equipment, as manufacturers develop appliances with greater efficiency and substantially reduced emissions. In the last year, consumer calls to HETAS have doubled and many callers are asking what must be considered when choosing a stove. At HETAS, our Registered Installers and Approved Retailers advise customers how to operate their appliances effectively and safely.  Even consumers accustomed to solid fuel may need an update on the way that stoves best operate. Getting the right size stove is critical for comfort, efficiency and clean burning.

Many modern stoves have highly effective clean burn technology and are DEFRA exempt which means they are suitable for use in smoke control areas. Essentially, the best modern stoves can reduce emissions by 80% compared to older stoves and open fires.

Each month the HETAS website gets up to 60,000 unique visitors. We were proud to see the Which? research reveal HETAS as the most widely recognised specialist stove organisation, selected by 54% of those questioned. With the recent concerns about particulate emissions and air quality, it is more important than ever to show customers that modern solid fuel and wood-burning appliances are part of the air quality solution.

The Which? findings show a quarter of those questioned are not being given advice about how to use their stove safely and effectively at point of purchase, with a staggering 32% not being told the best fuel to use. Nearly half (43%) weren’t told which fuels to avoid – leaving them potentially using the most polluting fuels.

Having a new modern, clean burn appliance to replace any old open fires or old wood burning stove helps reduce environmental impact. However, even with the appliances, if you put wet wood into them, you risk damaging your appliance and causing smokier combustion. A stove is only as good as the wood it burns. Woodfuel with Woodsure’s Ready to Burn stamp of approval will reassure those who purchase logs with its logo that they are ready to burn, reducing environmental impact.  More than 80 companies including major retailers such as ASDA and B&Q are now signed up to the ‘Ready to Burn’ scheme and firewood and briquettes with the Woodsure ‘Ready to Burn’ logo is available from local stove stores through to large outlets, including Tesco, Sainsbury’s, B&Q and Wickes.

Only 50% of those questioned were made aware of the importance of keeping stoves checked and maintained. To keep emissions low and to ensure optimum efficiency, HETAS advises emptying out the ash, getting the chimney swept regularly and the appliance serviced routinely. Stoves should normally be swept twice a year, chimney sweeping organisations suggest after the winter burning period and again as the new season starts. Stoves used heavily, or burning poor quality and wet fuel, may require more regular sweeping.

Homeowners can find their nearest HETAS approval scheme for chimney sweeps here.


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