Everyone likes an open fire, but the efficiency of burning logs in a grate is very low. An open fire has to suck a lot of the (warm) air out of the room, and it is replaced by cold air from outside. An open fire is estimated to be only about 20-25 per cent efficient, but it can be much lower, even falling into negative efficiency, potentially making your room colder than before you started! But a modern wood-burning stove can run at over 80 per cent efficiency. So if you put your logs in a stove instead of on a fire you will benefit from at least three times the amount of heat. In addition, you may be able to use the top of the stove to boil a kettle or make toast, and some models even have ovens built in, so you can bake a cake while you're warming your home.
Wood is the original carbon-neutral fuel. True, it releases carbon dioxide when it's burnt, but the amount given off is the same as was stored by the tree when it was growing. And, if the tree were left to rot in the woods it would produce the same amount of carbon emissions as are released by burning it. Most firewood in this country comes from sustainable sources, so for every tree cut down another is planted, and the carbon released from the felled tree will be absorbed by another tree. And, with the aid of new technology, a wood-burning stove can be even greener. With the cleanburn or cleanheat system the gases created when the wood is burnt are circulated back into the stove and burnt off. This increases heat and reduces emissions.
Both in terms of smoke and the amount of ash produced for the owner to clean up, modern wood burners are very impressive. Even in daily use the stove should not need cleaning out more than every few weeks. In fact, a bed of ashes helps the wood to burn. And if the stove has self-cleaning airwash glass a clear view of flickering flames is guaranteed. As for the emissions, many stoves are now clean enough to be legally used in urban smoke-free zones.
There are many manufacturers, both here and abroad producing the comforting traditional-style wood burners that look fantastic in period properties. But if you fancy something a little more adventurous, the ultra modern freestanding stoves with big glass windows certainly make a statement. In traditional black iron, shining steel, or even a white ceramic finish, there is something to suit every décor.
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