Journalism or sensationalism?
There has been a lot of bad press about wood burning stoves recently. Sadly, but as usual, this reflects the sort of shoddy and sensationalist journalism which we seem to have in the UK. Usually these “articles” are not what would be classified as proper investigative journalism which would of course entail researching all facts and alternatives and preparing a balanced piece of writing.
Good journalism has the power to change the world, politics and society. Shoddy and sensationalistic journalism only has a short term goal: money. Sell the news and sell advertising space on the back of this.
If any of those articles about pollution in general or wood burning stove in particular would have been based on actual independent and diligent research, you may have read that short of having a PassivHaus, any form of heating will have an effect on the enviroment.
Current options of having a warm home are: PassivHaus build (unattainable for the majority of mortals), gas (fossil fuel, non sustainable or renewable), electric (mainly sourced form non-renewable sources), Bio Mass heating (installation cost may be prohibitive as often is the space required for most people) which brings last but certainly not least to wood burning stoves.
Fossil fuel vs renewable fuel
Globally, the majority of air pollution is generated by the combustion of fossil fuel (coal, diesel fuel, gasoline, oil, and natural gas) for electricity production, heating, transportation, and industry. Worldwide, in 2011, fossil fuels represented 82% of the total primary energy supply. No form of heating that extracts energy from fossil fuels is environmentally sound.
It is clear that we need to look at renewable and sustainable ways of heating our home and FSC certified wood is one of those options. Using FSC wood in combination with a Ecodesign certified stove means that you are heating your home in the most ecological with an A rated appliance and renewable fuel.
Open fires vs wood burning stoves
The Guardian stated recently that 10% of UK homes have an open fire or a wood burning stove. This sort of stand alone statement is particularly disappointing from a newpaper like the Guardian. Just researching this a little further, the Guardian would have realised that you cannot group open fires together with wood burning stoves as you can see from the illustration below.
The problem with open fires are:
- as you cannot control the amount of air flow to an open fire, you end up using at least 5 x as many logs as you would with a stove.
- the majority of the heat goes up the chimney as it is an OPEN fire (and not into heating your house!)
- cold air comes down the chimney, particularly when the fire is out, almost like an open door. So if you are heating your home with central heating, you are losing the heat through your chimney.
In contrast to this, wood burning stoves:
- have air controls, allowing your to control the amoun of air which gets to the wood
- the heat generated from the radiating stove into your room, stays in your room as the chimney is closed with a steel closure plate only allowing the stove pipe to go through.
- The steel plate also stops cold air coming down the chimney, so containing the heat.
The major of London has actually welcomed the new improved Ecodesign stoves. Sadiq Khan stated:
“The Stove Industry Alliance (SIA) and Woodsure have launched their voluntary “Ecodesign Ready” and “Ready to Burn” labels to help consumers make the right choice in London and other smoke control areas.”
An open fire has an efficiency rating of “G”, whereas Ecodesign approved stoves have an efficiency rating of “A+”. How journalists can mention wood burning stoves and open fires in one sentence is beyond any reasonable mind.
Those few lucky ones who have the resources to build a PassivHaus or do add a Biomass Boiler to their home are few and far in between – the majority of the home owners need to move away from heat generated from fossil fuels. Fossil fuels are problematic and damaging to the environment from the point of extraction but are simply non renewable.
Wood burning stoves are one of the green solutions once all aspects have been taken into consideration, they are affordable to install and to maintain.