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In today’s fast-paced world, stress and anxiety have become commonplace. While there are many ways to combat these issues, you may be surprised to learn that a wood-burning stove can have a profoundly positive impact on your mental fitness and wellbeing.

In this blog, we’ll delve into the ways lighting a wood-burning stove can benefit mental fitness, including reducing stress and anxiety, promoting relaxation and mindfulness. With Mental Health Awareness Week approaching (15-21 May), there’s no better time to explore this simple yet highly effective technique.

How lighting a wood burning stove can support mental fitness   

A wood-burning stove is more than just a source of heat and can support mental fitness in multiple ways. The experience of making a fire, followed by the warmth and soothing crackling sounds it generates, creates a calming and meditative atmosphere that promotes relaxation and reduces stress. Focusing on the process of lighting and maintaining the fire can also help shift the mind away from negative thoughts and distractions.  

Wood burning can also provide a sense of purpose and connection to a timeless practice that has the potential to bring people together. Studies have shown how hearth and campfires can influence arterial blood pressure and defray the costs of the social brain through fireside relaxation. Here is a section from the study:  

‘Results indicated consistent blood pressure decreases in the fire-with-sound condition, particularly with a longer duration of stimulus, and enhancing effects of absorption and prosociality. Findings confirm that hearth and campfires induce relaxation as part of a multisensory, absorptive, and social experience.’ 

By incorporating wood burning into your self-care routine, you can enjoy a mindful and fulfilling experience that promotes mental fitness and overall wellbeing. 

The physical/mental fitness benefits of wood burning   

As well as providing a source of heat that is both sustainable and environmentally friendly, wood-burning can also benefit physical health. Chopping and carrying wood requires physical activity that can help improve cardiovascular health and build muscle strength.  

These benefits to physical fitness have a positive knock-on effect to one’s mental fitness: 

“There is a growing body of literature that recognizes the positive effects of exercise on mood states such as anxiety, stress and depression, through physiological and biochemical mechanisms…” 

https://www.maturitas.org/article/S0378-5122(17)30856-3/fulltext 

Additionally, the unique bone warming heat produced by your wood-stove promotes physical activity as it is a great way to ease any aches and pains of the day. For example, a long winter walk is far more tempting when you know you have a warm fire to cosy up to when you get home. 

 

Wood burning as a type of mindfulness   

Lighting a fire and tending to it requires a level of patience, focus, and attention to detail that can bring a real sense of calm and centeredness. 

As the flames flicker and the wood crackles, it’s easy to become absorbed in the sensory experience of the fire and let go of distracting thoughts or worries. This type of mindfulness practice can be particularly beneficial for those who struggle with anxiety or stress.  

 

How to get started  

With the fire lit, sit comfortably with eyes open or closed and try focusing on the sound of the crackling wood and the warmth of the flames. Allow yourself to be fully present in the moment and let go of any distracting thoughts as they arise and simply return your attention to the fire. 

Explore how to successfully light a fire pit.

 

Wood burning Increases bonding and improves relationships 

Gathering around the fire with family and friends provides a sense of warmth, comfort, and connection that is often missing in our fast-paced, technology-driven world.  

Invite friends or family to join you around the fire and enjoy the warmth and connection that it can provide. You’ll be surprised how much more the conversation flows when there is a fire crackling in the background! 

Here are some quotes from some Charnwood customers: 

“My grandchildren ask for the fire to be on when they are having a hot chocolate on a frosty day.” 

“Winter evenings with friends. Whenever we have visitors during the winter, we always make sure the stove is running as this usually ensures nobody will request the television be turned on, leading to an altogether much nicer atmosphere with people actually chatting and engaging much more, rather than staring at the screen.” 

“Chopping wood is a great way to relieve stress! Everyone congregates around the fire and the children like to help with the kindling etc. It just creates a special atmosphere.” 

“The stove is the catalyst for family bonding, which helps with relaxation & mood improvement. It helps to unwind after a days exertions at work.” 

“You can just gaze into the fire and be taken away from the stresses of work. It gives opportunity for the family to come together and talk. Talking just seems to come easier when siting around the stove.” 

Source: The Charnwood Wellbeing Survey 2021.

 

Increased energy security lowers stress 

A wood-burning stove also has some very practical ways of reducing common life stressors. With energy prices going up and supply issues still a real concern, a wood-burning stove provides a great way to mitigate both worries. 

Here are some more Charnwood customer quotes: 

 “We love our log burner. It makes us feel warm, safe and secure. It helps heat the whole house, which has proved an asset in power cuts. Nothing beats sitting in the living room with the warmth of the fire in the depths of winter.” 

“Lighting the stove after a walk by the sea during winter is a joyful experience. Has helped to alleviate the worry of power failures as we live in an area prone to electricity outage during bad weather. Just knowing that we have our lovely stove for independent heat and low light is fab.” 

“As an electric only house, we wanted a plan b during a power cut to heat the home” 

“Having a wood burner means I am less vulnerable in power cuts. I can still have heating, boil a kettle, cook food if I need to.” 

Read more about the wellbeing benefits of stoves here .

 

Don’t forget!

Ensure you use best wood-burning stove practices to save money, reduce emissions and to stay safe! Read more here 

Look out for the Woodsure Ready to Burn label which guarantees a moisture content of 20% or less. 

For a list of approved firewood sellers in your area click here. 

 

Why Choose Us?

At Charnwood Stoves, we believe in enhancing your home environment and your well-being. Our wood-burning stoves are meticulously crafted to provide warmth, comfort, and a sense of tranquillity. With a focus on mental fitness, our stoves offer more than just heat; they create a soothing ambiance that can help reduce stress and improve your mood. Our team prioritise sustainability and efficiency, ensuring our products are eco-friendly and cost-effective. Choose Charnwood for a reliable, high-quality stove that supports your mental health and enriches your living space. Experience the perfect blend of functionality, style, and well-being with Charnwood.

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With such high demand for wood-burning stoves, particularly in the colder months, now is an ideal time to prepare for next year. We highly recommend purchasing through an official Charnwood stockist where you can be assured of excellent after-care, and you will also qualify for our dealer-backed 10-year guarantee. 

Bonus: Podcasts that contribute to our mental fitness 

Mo Gawdat:  

https://www.mogawdat.com/podcast 

Andrew Huberman: 

https://hubermanlab.com/welcome-to-the-huberman-lab-podcast/ 

Diary of a CEO: 

https://stevenbartlett.com/the-diary-of-a-ceo-podcast/ 

Rich Roll: 

https://www.richroll.com/all-episodes/ 

 

Disclaimer: The content in this blog is not a replacement for professional medical advice. Please always contact your GP for help with any mental health issues. 

 

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The government’s Environmental Improvement Plan 2023 outlines its strategy for the continued improvement of regulations for burning fuel at home. It will tighten limits on new stoves in Smoke Control Areas (not banning), expand solid fuel legislation to fuels burnt outside and implement measures to encourage the replacement of older appliances with modern wood-burning stoves.

These are regulations we support and believe will make a real difference. Despite this balanced government plan, there continues to be a fair bit in the news about wood burning stoves with some sensationalist headlines, untruths and misrepresented information.

Understandably these scare-stories can cause concern, so with this blog we will show you how to heat your home with a wood-burning stove without having to worry about PM 2.5 emissions.

 

Benefits of Using Wood-Burning Stoves

Wood-burning stoves offer a carbon-neutral and cost-effective way to heat your home without relying on electricity or other fuel sources. They provide energy independence and can be used in conjunction with renewables, helping make these technologies more viable.

They are an ideal source of emergency heating and can even be used to cook food – in fact a Charnwood Cooking Plate can transform your stove giving you even more cooking options. Wood-burning stoves also last for decades, providing an affordable source of heat for low-income households as well as significant well-being benefits.

Read everything you need to know about wood burning stove cooking!

 

Understanding PM 2.5 Emissions

PM 2.5 is fine particulate matter with a diameter of just 2.5 microns, which is approximately 30 times smaller than the width of a human hair. These microscopic particles or droplets present in the air can be damaging to health when inhaled in sufficient quantity and come from a wide range of natural and human-made sources.

The good news, however, is that PM 2.5 emissions have been steadily decreasing over the years despite record stove sales (please see the short video above). This is data taken directly from DEFRA and is a scientific and unbiased representation of the air quality in the UK. Whilst there is more we can all do, the evidence is clearly positive.

When you consider that a candle, cleaning spray or even making toast can produce levels of PM 2.5 in the home far in excess of a wood stove, it does put things in perspective. However, whilst it’s impossible to remove PM 2.5 completely from our lives, there are ways to minimise your wood-burning stove’s contribution both inside and outside the home.

 

Choosing the right Wood-Burning Stove

The first step to minimising PM 2.5 starts with choosing a wood-burning stove that is the appropriate size for the space and is certified to the highest possible efficiency standards.

Whilst all Ecodesign rated stoves provide improved efficiency, some are undoubtably better than others. In fact, ClearSkies 5 rated Charnwood stoves are up to 48% more efficient than standard Ecodesign. This reduces emissions by up to 90% compared with an open fire and by up to 80% compared with older, basic stove models.

This is an exceptionally clean burn which unlocks all the benefits of wood-burning while keeping emissions to a bare minimum!

Explore our broad range of wood-burning stoves available.

 

Minimizing PM 2.5 Emissions from Wood-Burning Stoves

Once you have the right wood-stove installed, the next part of the equation is using the best wood burning practices – we all have our part to play. Trusted Chief Medical Advisor Chris Whitty in his latest report acknowledges this saying, “For air pollution emissions, there is substantial difference between the different open fire and stove designs, the age of the appliance and how well maintained it is, and the moisture content of the wood, for those who want to burn wood.”

Read more about best-wood stove practices to save you money and reduce emissions!

 

Using the right wood

Achieving the perfect cosy fire requires choosing the right wood. Charnwood stoves are designed to run on seasoned or kiln-dried wood with a moisture content of less than 20%, which results in a cleaner and more efficient burn. This keeps harmful emissions to a minimum and significantly improves efficiency while protecting your stove and chimney – saving you money!

Seasoned wood is wood that has been cut and usually allowed to dry for at least 6-12 months. You can roughly estimate if wood is seasoned by its lighter weight when compared to wet wood and telltale cracks in the end grain. However, to be sure, we strongly recommend using a moisture meter to accurately check the moisture content.

Alternatively, you can purchase kiln-dried wood from an approved firewood seller. Click here to search in your area.

Also explore our best firewood to burn chart in the UK.

 

Maintenance Tips for Wood-Burning Stoves

To ensure optimal performance and efficiency, regular inspection and maintenance of wood-burning stoves is essential. This includes cleaning the stove and its components, inspecting for signs of wear and tear, and examining the flue and chimney for any blockages or other issues. Here are some of the key proactive steps to take, so you can enjoy the warmth and ambiance of your wood-burning stove for years to come while keeping PM 2.5 emissions to a bare minimum.

 

Use a stove pipe thermometer

A Stove or Flue pipe thermometer is an essential piece of equipment that allows you to accurately monitor your stove’s temperature. This helps burn wood efficiently, protecting your stove and chimney, while reducing emissions and maximising heat output.

As one Charnwood customer from the 2022 stove accessory survey said, “It makes it so much easier to see if my fire is working at optimum temperature and if I need to adjust the amount of wood/air flow.”

Additionally, we recommend keeping your stove glass clean so you can monitor your fire and gauge its intensity. As you become more experienced, you’ll be able to anticipate the necessary interventions for maximum efficiency.

 

Check the seals on your stove

Ensuring the seals of your stove are secure is essential to maintaining its efficiency and keeping any smoke out of your home. Visually inspect the gasket (rope seal) around the stove door; if it is not snug against the door, replace it. Additionally, check the seal around the chimney to prevent any leakage. Taking a few minutes to check your wood-burning stove seals will help you stay safe and warm all winter long.

If you’re unsure how to check the seals, refer to your stove owner’s manual or contact a qualified technician.

 

Don’t overfill the stove – allow for air circulation

When using a wood-burning stove, it is important not to overfill the firebox. Filling the firebox no more than halfway ensures that the fire has enough oxygen to burn evenly and efficiently. A tightly packed firebox can cause the wood to smoulder instead of burning, which can lead to creosote buildup. Creosote is a highly flammable substance and can be the cause of dangerous chimney fires. For a safer and more efficient burn, make sure to leave enough space in the firebox for air to circulate.

 

Clean out ash and soot from inside the stove regularly

Regularly cleaning out the ash and soot that builds up in your wood-burning stove is key to its performance and appearance. Clogged airflow caused by a buildup of ash and soot can cause the fire to struggle and reduces efficiency.

How often you clean will depend on how often the stove is used, but generally, it is best to do a thorough cleaning once every couple of weeks during the colder months.

We highly recommend using an ash carrier to make the process much easier and mess-free!

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It is important to remember that all energy sources, including renewables, require compromise and tradeoffs to receive the benefits they provide. The key is to maximise the benefits while reducing the negatives. Wood-burning stoves are playing a pivotal role in helping families get through the energy and cost of living crises. However, we agree it is important to understand PM 2.5 emissions and to take steps to minimize them. By following the tips outlined in this article, you can heat your home with wood-burning stoves without excessive worry about PM 2.5 emissions.

 

Why Choose Us?

At Charnwood Stoves, we pride ourselves on delivering top-quality, environmentally friendly heating solutions. With over 50 years of experience, our wood-burning stoves combine exceptional craftsmanship with innovative technology to ensure maximum efficiency and minimal emissions. Our team are committed to sustainability, offering products that are both beautiful and responsible. Our dedicated customer service team is always ready to assist, ensuring you find the perfect stove to fit your needs. Choose Charnwood for reliable, stylish, and eco-conscious heating solutions that stand the test of time.

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I spent the weekend clearing and chopping a large Eucalyptus which had blown down in storms a few weeks ago. It was a magnificent tree and one which we were sad to see come down. Its beauty, however, went beyond its imposing stature. As logs were cut and split ready for stacking and seasoning to provide heat at a much later date, the beauty of creation’s ability to store energy was demonstrated in its fullness. Energy storage has always been a human challenge, but this tree had done it perfectly. Earlier that day I had been at Parkrun and the subject of wood burning had been raised in light of the Scottish government’s reported ‘ban’ on installing wood burners in new builds (which has caused problems for the Scottish Government): “It is just crazy, where is the common sense in that” a local businessman said to me. Indeed, as I looked at the logs I had just cut, I agreed – where is the common sense of not using this stored energy for heat? It is local, widely available, and it is nature’s gift. When we look out of our window we may see a number of energy sources – maybe some sun, sometimes the effects of wind, but almost always trees.  

Despite the clear benefits of using wood as a fuel source, there has been much anti-wood-burning talk recently, not least in Scotland. So, are we losing our common sense? Are we disregarding nature? At Charnwood, environmental responsibility has always been a core value and driver of our business as we try and make a difference in what we do. We want to listen, we want to engage with the voices that are contrary to our views, indeed that is the way we learn. There is a proverb from the bible which says:  

“Instruct the wise and they will be wiser still; teach the righteous and they will add to their learning.” (Proverbs 9) 

We initially held back from engaging with the anti-wood burning lobby on social media. However, we eventually felt compelled to start pushing back on some of the misleading and untrue claims made by the Wood Burning London and Global Action Plan campaigns. As we started to engage more, we realised that there were a lot of different viewpoints, some of which we hadn’t considered fully before. In light of this, we wrote:  

‘Shared Goals, Cleaner Air: Reimagining the Wood Burning Debate with Healthy Dialogue & Believing the Best in Each Other’ 

In this, we argued we needed to start believing the best in each other in order that we work together for positive solutions. In truth, this has been really hard. We have always sought to be polite – to engage well and be constructive. However, perhaps unsurprisingly, this is rarely reciprocated. In hindsight, maybe we should have paid more attention to the first part of the proverb: 

“Whoever corrects a mocker invites insults; whoever rebukes the wicked incurs abuse. Do not rebuke mockers or they will hate you; rebuke the wise and they will love you” 

We were certainly mocked, insulted, abused and hated! We are apparently representatives of the ‘Stink Industry’, our customers are ‘stokers’ and we have been given a new brand name ‘CharrredWood’. We were called liars, condescending and not genuine…. The claims went on, abuse was thrown our way and when we did invite more meaningful debate away from X we were accused of having bad motives and wanting to discredit people. When there seemed to be genuine concerns and we offered to engage in detail away from social media to find solutions, in most cases, those with the issues refused the offer of help and even called us creepy for offering! Our motives and funding were questioned, and we were accused of acting in bad faith. Some users have even learnt how to use AI images to produce grotesque anti-wood-burning memes. It was tempting to want to reply aggressively, but we tried to resist.  

We know there are strong voices on both sides, and social media can breed one-sided arguments while amplifying negativity. But the intensity of the anti-wood burning sentiment online from certain groups was still a little unexpected. Engaging felt a bit like venturing into a lion’s den – or maybe a nest of angry wasps – we got our fair share of stings! Our words were sometimes twisted, and our motives misconstrued. 

Here is one example of a social media post that highlights some of the challenges to the debate. An unwillingness to recognise the very real differences between different stoves and other forms of woodburning is not constructive. Obviously ‘good’ is subjective, but we think it is a justified adjective when you consider a modern stove, burned correctly, is up to 80% more efficient than an old stove and 90% more than an open fire. Additionally, emissions from modern wood stoves, when used correctly, are negligible. Burning dry wood (e.g. Ready to Burn certified) in an Ecodesign-compliant stove (e.g. clearSkies certified) makes up just 0.09% of total UK PM2.5 emissions. Source: NAEI (1). 

Also, scaremongering tactics regarding an increased cancer risk to stove owners misrepresent the facts and is very unhelpful to all. This report undertaken by Dr Amanda Lea-Langton, (2) senior lecturer in Bioenergy Engineering at the University of Manchester found:   

-No scientific evidence for adverse health impacts from exposure to the indoor air typically associated with modern, enclosed wood-burning stoves 

-Use of modern wood-burning stoves may help to improve air quality inside the home due to the natural draught created during wood stove operation that pulls air from the room into the appliance and from outside. (Even the findings from the London Wood-Burning Project (3), who are anti-woodburning, back this up: “Use of the clearSkies Level 5 stove demonstrated some benefits for indoor air quality. Indoor PM2.5 did not increase when adding fuel to the stove once lit… At times there was actually a decrease in indoor concentrations of PM2.5 when adding fuel.”) 

-Other sources of particulate matter in the home, such as cooking, can release much higher levels of PM compared to modern, enclosed wood-burning stoves, and could therefore have greater health risk potential 

Despite the hostility online, the experience did provide some value. We do recognise people’s concerns and understand some of the frustration. What was very apparent is that many of the most vehement anti-wood-burners have had very bad neighbourhood experiences of wood-burning. Pictures of smoky chimneys are too frequent, and, in all honesty, we would be complaining just as much if we had to live next to some of the chimneys in question. Undoubtably, there is a very real and present problem with the way that some people are burning their wood fuel which is something we rarely hear as most of the people we interact with at Charnwood HQ love their stoves. They find it has improved their health and well-being, keeps them warm and provides energy security – but we acknowledge that our experience on X has revealed there are others who have been very negatively affected by bad burning. 

So where does this leave us – what do we do? We are passionate about wood-burning heating, to us and to many it seems like common sense. It makes use of a local, natural and renewable fuel source that encourages the planting and managing of forests and woodland which is important for improving biodiversity (4). We make Charnwood stoves here on the Isle of Wight, we employ local people and one of our company objectives is to make a positive difference to the local community. Sustainability is a core driver in our business, and we continue to seek ways to minimise our environmental impact. We are confident of the many benefits of wood-burning, however, we are not oblivious to the downsides and burning anything can produce bad particles.  Although the improvements in burning technology have overall reduced wood smoke emissions significantly (1), if you have a neighbour who is burning badly, this is of little comfort.   

However, we do need to be realistic about energy solutions and apply common sense to each situation. There will not be a one-size-fits-all solution. Heat pumps are the solution being pushed by governments at the moment, but the uptake has been really poor. Where around one million gas boilers are fitted every year there were only around 60000 heat pumps sold last year (5). Despite the best efforts of governments, consumers have been reluctant to install them and many who have, are left disappointed. I was talking to a local heating engineer a couple of weeks ago and he was telling me how he now has customers asking him to remove their heat pumps and instead install a gas solution. In Germany, part of the success of the AFD has been its opposition to heat pumps (6). Although heat pumps can work very well, they have limitations and when policymakers ignore these genuine concerns and try to push a one-size-fits-all solution, we can see it backfire. But in the same way that we need to be careful about over-pushing one solution, we also need to be careful about restricting other solutions because of their perceived negatives. Should we ban electric cars and battery storage because the metals used often come from mines using child labour? (7). Should we ban solar panels because most are produced in China using Uygur forced labour and some of the chemicals used are toxic (8)? And should we ban all solid fuel burning because of the problems of emissions in some cases? All of these are valid questions which are likely to make us feel uncomfortable, and our lived experiences will determine our responses. But instead of banning things and reducing our energy security and flexibility, should we not mitigate the negatives so we can take advantage of the positives? 

All energy sources have upsides and downsides – are they low carbon? Are they emission-free at the point of generation? Are they emission-free at the point of use? Is the energy source sustainable? What about the manufacturing impact of the equipment? What about the recyclability of the equipment? In the UK we often congratulate ourselves on being well on our way to having sustainable energy, however as Sir Dieter Helm, Professor of Economic Policy at the University of Oxford points out much of this has been because we have deindustrialised (9). For example, closing the steelworks at Port Talbot won’t mean that we consume less steel. It will just mean that the environmental and carbon impact of the steel we use gets moved to another country often with less human and environmental protections than our own. The same could be said for importing wood pellets from North America to power the Drax power stations – we still use and generate the carbon here, even if it is offset where the trees are grown. We need to use the ‘common sense’ test, and both of these examples fail miserably. 

Now more than ever, with so much instability in the world, we need a pragmatic and diverse energy mix that is resilient to future demands. We believe burning wood on modern wood-burning stoves is an overall small, but important part of this. By using logs from locally managed forests, and burning properly with locally made, long-lasting equipment which can be easily recycled at the end of its life, wood-burning stoves are one common sense solution for many situations. At Charnwood, we are investing in new technology which mitigates the negatives of wood-burning emissions. We have just launched the Skye E700 which uses electronic control to constantly monitor the fire and make automatic adjustments to ensure wood is always burnt cleanly and efficiently. The results are remarkable and build on the already large steps forward we have made in clean burning technology. What is more, wood burning compliments heat pumps very well. Whereas heat pumps struggle in cold weather, combining a heat pump with a stove works well and could increase heat pump uptake if encouraged. Indeed, in Norway, if a heat pump is installed a provision must be made for a flue to take a stove. 

So, let’s use our common sense as we think about heating. We are continuing to invest in new technology which will allow us to burn wood more cleanly and efficiently. We know it is sustainable and a brilliant solution for many situations that have suitable wood fuel available. As an industry, we need to continue making improvements in our appliances to ensure overall air quality improves, but we also need to work together with other stakeholders to ensure that local instances of bad burning are eradicated. This might mean tougher penalties, improved education and it may include a stove swap-out programme to replace old appliances with cleaner ones. It may also mean other things, but to do this we need positive and constructive engagement. Will we get criticism? Of course, we will, and we will expect it – just take a look at the comments below when we post this article on social media! Sustainability, the environment and air quality are important issues, so we welcome constructive debate and criticism, we want to see real improvements so this time we just might not respond to the mockers. Instead, our efforts will focus on innovation and development to overcome the challenges of wood-burning while further amplifying its many benefits. 

 

References: 

(1) https://naei.beis.gov.uk/data/data-selector-results?q=189517 

(2) https://stoveindustryalliance.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/22-04-11-Indoor-air-final-V5-AL.pdf 

(3) https://www.imperial.ac.uk/media/imperial-college/medicine/sph/environmental-research-group/London-Wood-Burning-Project-Report_final.pdf 

(4) https://www.smallwoods.org.uk/en/advice-and-information/the-economics-of/ 

(5) https://www.heatpumps.org.uk/statistics/ 

(6) https://www.politico.eu/article/robert-lambrou-alternative-for-germany-heat-pump-election-climate-change 

(7) https://www.independent.co.uk/climate-change/news/phone-electric-vehicle-congo-cobalt-mine-b2277665.html? 

(8) https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-china-57124636 

(9) https://alastaircampbell.org/2024/04/69-the-brutal-truth-about-net-zero-and-how-to-vanquish-climate-populists-with-dieter-helm/ 

charnwoodstoves

We at Charnwood appreciate the work Mums for Lungs does in advocating for clean air. We share their concern for healthy homes and the environment. However, some recent information they released on wood burning does not reflect the latest available data which shows significantly reduced emissions from advancements in wood-stove technology and responsible fuel practices. Let’s explore some key points raised in their leaflet: 

Air Quality Concerns: 

MfL Wood burning is a leading cause of PM2.5. Emissions of PM2.5 from domestic wood burning increased by 56% between 2012 and 2022, to represent 22% of overall PM2.5 emissions in 2022. This is more than all UK road transport exhausts (18%).” 

The term ‘domestic wood-burning’ continues to mislead.  The public understandably associates this catch all term most readily with wood-burning stoves – despite it being a combination of emissions including open fires, outdoor bonfires and old stoves. The actual contribution of modern wood-burning stoves is estimated by the UK government’s official figures at just 1-2%! (1)   

And when good fuel practices are undertaken this reduces even further. (2) 

As reported by the SIA “Last year…PM2.5 emissions from Ecodesign stoves burning dry wood fuel accounted for less than 0.1% of the UK total.” 

 MfL “There is no such thing as clean burning. The newest Ecodesign, Defra compliant stove emits six times more PM2.5 per hour than a Euro VI heavy goods vehicle.” 

This stat has repeatedly been shown to be flawed and has caused much unnecessary concern.   

Closer inspection reveals the data used to create this stat excludes brake and engine wear and in fact, just one Euro 6 HGV produces 13 times more PM2.5 emissions than an Ecodesign wood-burning stove over a week’s real-world use. Furthermore, emissions from HGVs are emitted at ground level (nearer head height) while wood smoke is dispersed more safely, higher up via a chimney flue.   

The SIA say, “ The claims are based on simplistic calculations using permitted rates of emission and do not consider either real world use or non-exhaust emissions. Furthermore, these permitted emissions rates rely on vastly differing measurement protocols and techniques. It should also be noted that there are several unreferenced assumptions, and the report does not appear to have been independently peer reviewed.” (3) 

It is fair to say that a 90% reduction in emissions, which is what modern wood-burning stoves offer, is clean burning. With 70% of wood burning in London taking place on open fires, modern stoves could reduce those emissions by 90% and that would certainly clean up the air dramatically! 

Furthermore, it is important and pragmatic to say that the reality is there is no pure way to keep warm. Every heating solution, from gas and electric to wind, solar, heat pumps and nuclear involves tradeoffs and compromises. The key is to optomise these solutions and use them intelligently together to provide us with greater energy security and wellbeing. Read about wood-burning stoves co-heating future here. 

Costs: 

MfL “Wood burning is costly…” 

Prices of all types of fuel constantly fluctuate and are dependant on many factors including availability and how much you buy. Wood is consistently one of the cheapest fuel sources available and as recently as 18 months ago was widely considered the cheapest fuel source! (4) What is constant is that wood is the only fuel source that you can collect yourself for FREE and is not subject to spiking due to global crises in the way that gas and electricity is. It also provides energy independence and security from outages caused by various factors from storms to supply issues.  

Environmental Impact: 

MfL  “Wood burning is not a climate friendly way of heating a home. Burning wood releases more greenhouse gases than gas, oil or coal for the same amount of heat.” 

Wood is a renewable fuel source compared with fossil fuels that take millions of years to produce. Additionally, acquiring the remaining fossil fuel supply requires increasingly destructive methods such as fracking and deep-sea oil drilling. Wood fuel, on the other hand, can be sourced locally and in harmony with the environment.   

Sustainably harvested wood fuel can absolutely be considered climate-friendly because trees absorb carbon dioxide as they grow, offsetting the emissions released when burned. However, we acknowledge that responsible forest management and efficient burning practices are crucial to ensure true sustainability.  

MfL  “Leaving trees to grow and mature creates forests which capture more carbon and sustain a richer variety of species” 

Managing woodland is vital for healthy forests and increasing biodiversity. Coppicing is an ancient woodland management technique dating back to the stone age used to ensure regular supply of timber and firewood and improve forest health. It involves felling trees at their base to create a ‘stool’ where new shoots will grow. Coppicing today is often used as a way of improving the health and biodiversity of a woodland area by opening it up to the sunlight and allowing a wider range of plants to flourish. 

The National Trust say “Today, we use it at many of the places we care for to create a range of habitats for plants and wildlife – dramatically increasing the diversity of species that thrive in these areas.” (5) 

According to the Woodland Trust’s 2021 report (6), the UK’s woodland cover has more than doubled in the last 100 years, reaching 13.1% of the total land area and forest coverage is set to continue increasing which provides a host of benefits, including:  

Carbon Sequestration: Wood absorbs carbon dioxide from the atmosphere as it grows. When wood is burned responsibly, a closed-loop carbon cycle can be created with the carbon dioxide released being reabsorbed by new trees.  

Biodiversity Enhancement: Woodlands are the habitat for a diverse range of wildlife, including many insects and birds. When done sustainably, harvesting wood encourages new growth and benefits biodiversity.  

Local Jobs: Wood fuel production and distribution creates jobs and supports economies in rural areas. This is crucial for maintaining the vibrancy of local communities who in turn invest in looking after their woodland areas. 

____________ 

We understand concerns about PM2.5 and we want to continue playing a key role in improving air quality. Modern wood-burning stoves are NOT the problem and the latest data shows that they can in fact massively improve air quality. 

We would encourage everyone to come together to focus on the real issues that can make a genuine difference. Let’s encourage people to reduce bonfires, switch from open fires to modern wood-burning stoves, and burn wood responsibly and efficiently. This would make a huge difference while protecting our energy security.  

Remember there is no 100% clean technology. Every heating source has its positives and negatives. Modern wood-burning maximises the many positives while drastically reducing the negatives. 

For those open to working together to ensure the cleanest possible air for everyone, please read our blog: Shared Goals, Cleaner Air: Reimagining The Wood Burning Debate With Healthy Dialogue & Believing The Best In Each Other 

 

References: 

(1) https://stoveindustryalliance.com/domestic-indoor-wood-burning-emissions-significantly-lower-than-previously-thought/ 

(2) https://www.charnwood.com/news/sia-report-wood-burning-emissions-decrease-despite-record-year-for-stove-sales/ 

(3) https://stoveindustryalliance.com/sia-responds-to-wood-burning-stove-and-hgv-emission-comparison/ 

(4) https://stoveindustryalliance.com/wood-fuel-now-the-cheapest-domestic-heating-fuel/ 

(5) https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/discover/nature/trees-plants/what-is-coppicing 

(6) https://www.woodlandtrust.org.uk/media/51705/state-of-the-uks-woods-and-trees-2021-thewoodlandtrust.pdf 

charnwoodstoves

On May 1st new government regulations came into force that restricts the types of fuel you can burn at home. We welcome DEFRA’s announcement, that going forward, only fuels that reduce air pollution can be burned in stoves and open fires in the domestic setting. That means coal and wet wood are no longer allowed to be used. Charnwood fully support this change and have long been producing exceptionally high-performance stoves already designed to run on approved wood-burning stove fuel.

 

The Best Wood-Burning Stove Fuel Options

Seasoned wood

This is wood that has been stored and allowed to dry until the moisture content has reduced to 20% or less. Freshly cut or ‘green wood’ holds around 60% water which causes far more smoke to be produced. It is for this reason we have long stressed the importance of using seasoned wood because it produces a significantly cleaner burn – reducing emissions by up to 50%. Additionally, improved efficiency equals cheaper running costs, while a cleaner fuel means your stove and chimney will require less maintenance. It’s win-win.

How to season wood in 4 Steps

1/ Split wood into logs in a size to suit your stove no larger than 15cm (6”) in diameter.
2/ Stack the wood in a place that gets plenty of sun and allows the wind and air to circulate. To avoid injury from falling logs, never stack above head height.
3/ Cover the stack to protect it from rain and snow. Make sure to cover the top and if you cover the sides as well, make sure the air can get in and that moisture is not getting trapped.
4/ Store the wood for 18-24 months, until the moisture content is below 20%. Test this with a moisture metre.

Different species of wood have varying qualities that effect their wood burning capability. We have compiled a useful chart with more information.

Explore more on seasoning wood correctly.

Kiln dried wood

Another fuel that is DEFRA approved is kiln dried wood that is cut, split, and then dried in large ovens. This speeds up the drying process and means that there is always readily available fuel for your stove if your supply is short. Look out for the Woodsure Ready to Burn label which guarantees a moisture content of 20% or less.

Also explore our best firewood to burn chart in the UK.

 

Ecodesign Ready

 

While choosing the right wood to burn is important, having an efficient stove is also key. Most of the stoves we sell are Ecodesign Ready and our Island Stove is one of the very cleanest on the market.

Charnwood are proud to have stoves certified in the inaugural ClearSkies listing, an independent emissions and energy performance certification mark for stoves. Many Charnwood products carry a level 5 certification (the highest available rating) which guarantees performance levels exceed the minimum Ecodesign criteria by a sizable 30%. This is only awarded to stoves that significantly reduce particle emissions while ensuring high efficiencies and a superior flame picture.

 

Why Choose Us?

At Charnwood Stoves, we’re committed to providing you with the finest quality wood-burning stove fuel that not only meets strict standards of approval but also exceeds your expectations. Here’s why you should choose us:

1/ Superior Quality: Our wood-burning stove fuels are meticulously selected and tested to ensure optimum performance and efficiency, giving you peace of mind in your heating choices.

2/ Eco-Friendly Solutions: We prioritise sustainability by offering fuels that are environmentally friendly, reducing your carbon footprint while providing cosy warmth for your home.

3/ Trusted Reputation: With years of experience and a reputation for excellence, Charnwood is a name you can trust for reliable heating solutions that enhance your living space.

4/ Expert Guidance: Our knowledgeable team is dedicated to providing expert advice and assistance, ensuring you find the perfect fuel for your specific stove requirements.

Choose Charnwood Stoves for unmatched quality, sustainability, and expertise in wood burning stove fuels.

 

________________

We hope you embrace these new regulations and continue to enjoy the wonderful wood-burning experience with the knowledge that you are helping reduce pollution levels. Additionally, due to the carbon-neutral benefits of wood-burning, you are helping to significantly reduce CO2 levels and contributing to the fight against global warming.

Find out more about Ecodesign ready stoves here.

charnwoodstoves

We have been eagerly anticipating the updated figures for PM 2.5 emissions from ‘domestic burning’ as we knew this should go a long way to settling the debate that has been raging on socials and in the wider media this winter. The reason all eyes are on this data is because it reflects a period of emissions that coincided with record stove sales. Therefore, if anti-wood-burning campaigners were right then a significant increase in PM2.5 should, logically, be observed. However, as reported by the SIA, Defra have finally released their figures and it is official: PM2.5 from domestic burning has DECREASED despite record wood-burning stove sales over the same period.

The release of the latest air pollution data by Defra shows an 18% reduction in PM2.5 emissions nationally between 2012 and 2022.

Particulate emissions from “domestic combustion” fell between 2021 and 2022 with a 3.9% reduction in PM10 and a 4% reduction in PM2.5 from “domestic combustion”. The latest data also shows that PM2.5 emissions from the domestic use of wood fuel specifically fell by 2.7%.

Chair of the SIA, Andy Hill, commented:

“SIA members reported annual sales of over 200k units in 2022, a 40% increase on 2021. This increase was driven by several factors including spiralling energy prices and increasing consumer apprehension regarding grid reliability. What is clear from the latest data is that, despite an increase in stove sales, domestic emissions have come down. This points clearly and conclusively to the improvement in air quality that can be achieved by replacing open fires and older stove models with modern, Ecodesign design compliant stoves such as clearSkies certified appliances.”

“The SIA looks forward to being able to apportion the numbers more accurately once the NAEI publishes the detailed source and activity name data that drives the top-level figures released by Defra. Last year this clearly showed that PM2.5 emissions from Ecodesign stoves burning dry wood fuel accounted for less than 0.1% of the UK total.”

_________

We are delighted this data finally confirms what we have been trying to communicate about the benefits offered by modern wood burning stoves. But rest assured, it is our full intention to go even further in reducing emissions. Through further investment and technological advances and extending our hand to those across the aisle to collaborate.

In one of our most recent blogs, we called upon those seeking to ban wood-burning to open constructive dialogue so that we can potentially work together to make even greater progress reducing emissions. The data is conclusive, and it’s time to come together and focus on the pragmatic changes that will move the needle further in the right direction.

Please read more here: Shared Goals, Cleaner Air: Reimagining The Wood Burning Debate With Healthy Dialogue & Believing The Best In Each Other

charnwoodstoves

Over the last few weeks there has been a lot of talk on wood burning centered around ‘No Burn Night’. 

As a stove manufacturer we certainly have a vested interest and have been pushing back on claims which we have felt to be unfair, misleading or untrue. Much of this debate has spilt over onto social media where it has often been less than savoury! Of course, we all know that social media is never the best place to have these in-depth discussions. 

Often in debates we tend to try and demonise our opposition, we try to (mis)represent their arguments on our terms, often to discredit their motives, and aim to crush them and be the victors of the argument. We saw this during the Brexit debate, on both sides, – issues were simplified, positions were demonised, mistruths were told, and it is probably fair to say from whatever perspective you come from, that the results have been a bit of a disaster. When it comes to the debate on air quality it is too important to allow this to happen. So, what if we take a different approach? What if we tried to believe the best in each other and the motivations behind what we are all trying to achieve?! 

There is a risk here – surely if we try and understand the other side, give them the benefit of the doubt even, won’t they take advantage and undermine our position further? Surely, the first rule of negotiation is to go in hard and then maybe meet in the middle. Well maybe, but what if we try to do things differently? Indeed, the prize is surely one worth having as this debate centers around an important issue: the environment and more specifically air quality. Something that we all believe is vitally important. 

What are the arguments on both sides?  

One of the first Charnwood stoves replacing a more polluting open fire 

In writing this, we are aware that we approach this from a position of vested interest, so let’s start with us. We manufacture, amongst other things, wood burning stoves and have done so for around 50 years. We employ around 180 people here on the Isle of Wight and export to around 20 countries. We are a family business and work with other small, often family-run businesses up and down the country who sell and install our stoves. We started making stoves because there was an oil crisis and at the end of the 1970s, Dutch Elm disease had killed many trees. This wood was often burnt on open fires, which was neither efficient or clean. That inspired the founders to start making stoves to burn the wood better. Over the years we have found ways to dramatically improve performance, so we get more heat and less smoke from the wood we burn. 

But why burn wood at all?  

Well, wood is a plentiful natural and renewable resource that reduces our reliance on fossil fuels. It has been used for heating and other things for millennia. Forest management is also vitally important – well-managed woodland is good for biodiversity and is lost if it is not managed well. We also see forest fires tragically result from not managing forests, such as those in California. 

Energy has, throughout history, been the key to power – the British empire was built on coal. Then came oil and we saw the rise of America, Russia and the Middle East. As we move into a low carbon economy, we see access to rare earth metals that make batteries as critical, and it is China who have taken the lead in this race. Those who control access to energy hold power. But wood is different and it’s plentiful which means it cannot be controlled by any large player. 

In this image a modern ultra-efficient Charnwood Island Stove has replaced an open fire

So, clearly, we think wood has many advantages. “Of course you do”, you might say! But we are also aware that to heat from wood it needs to be burnt, and burning things creates smoke. In the UK, traditionally it has been open fires which have been the primary method of heating, and it has always been our argument that burning on a stove is far better – more efficient and with significantly less emissions (3). Over the years we have continued to invest in equipment to keep improving even further.  

SO, what is the problem with wood? 

If we look at those that don’t like wood burning we hear a very different story. It is perhaps unfair of us to try and explain the opposite position, but notwithstanding our obvious bias, we will try and Steel Man their position: Wood when burnt produces, amongst other things PM2.5 – these are small particles that are not good for us and when breathed it can cause health problems. These health problems are hotly debated as the body will deal with a certain amount of PM2.5 (and different types) but it is claimed that it can cause respiratory disease, and even dementia. In fact, all types of burning will produce these particles to greater and lesser extents. The term PM2.5 describes the size of the particle rather than the composition, and its composition depends on what is being burnt. More research is needed to understand the relative toxicity of the different types of particles. If we take the position that there is no safe level of PM2.5 then logically it must follow that we should not burn things – and wood is included in this. 

What do anti-wood burners think of pro wood burners   

Again, this is difficult to answer and there are many views. But it is probably fair to say that they think we are an industry with vested interests whose desire to make money overrides the damage we do to the environment and air quality. Of course on a local and personal level if you are living next to someone who is creating a lot of smoke by burning wood badly, maybe on an open fire, old appliance, using bad wood or even unregulated burning outside it is really not pleasant and rightly this should be stopped.

What do pro-wood burning people think of anti-wood burners 

It is easier for us to answer this one! We often feel misrepresented and frustrated by the lack of distinction between different types of wood burning. Wood burnt on a stove will generally be much cleaner than that of wood burnt on an open fire or outdoor appliance. It is essential to differentiate between various forms of wood-burning. Chief Medical Advisor Chris Whitty in his report acknowledges this saying, “For air pollution emissions, there is substantial difference between the different open fire and stove designs, the age of the appliance and how well maintained it is, and the moisture content of the wood, for those who want to burn wood.”(2) 

We can often also feel aggrieved because for us (and some other stove companies) the reason we got into making stoves was to improve air quality and the environment. So, we feel as if we are being shoved out of our own party! We want to improve air quality by better burning, and we feel through misrepresentation we are frustrated in this mission. We strongly believe that we are at risk of seeing air quality worsen by not getting people to burn better.   

Ecodesign-compliant stoves are up to 90% more efficient than an open fire and in London 70% of wood burning still occurs on open fires. (1) If people were widely encouraged to switch to one of the many modern and efficient wood-burning stoves available, it would massively reduce urban PM 2.5 emissions. In fact, the latest wood-burning figures released by Defra appear to show this taking place across the country as reported by the SIA:  

“What is clear from the latest data is that, despite an increase in stove sales, domestic emissions have come down. This points clearly and conclusively to the improvement in air quality that can be achieved by replacing open fires and older stove models with modern, Ecodesign design compliant stoves such as clearSkies certified appliances.” (4)   

Finally, it must be said that on some fringes of our community, there is also a feeling that we are up against bigger powers (in much the same way that those who don’t like wood burning feel we have large commercial interests). We are in fact quite a small industry made up of a lot of small and medium-sized companies. There is often a feeling that the anti woodburning lobby is being funded by big players (perhaps fossil fuel companies) who have a vested interest in having control over energy. There is also a subset who feels that governments don’t like wood burning because they cannot tax it! 

Believe the best 

So, there is distrust on both sides – and although there may be good reason for some of it, we share the same motivation: we both want to improve air quality and the environment. Of course, we are taking different approaches towards this. Some want to ban burning, while in our company we want to improve it. But we mustn’t forget, during these debates, that our goal is the same – cleaner air!   

Can we work together?  

If we share the same goal can we help each other? Is the pragmatic approach mutually exclusive to the idealistic one? Is the idealistic path really threatened by the pragmatic one? Can we work together? 

Could we think of it as more of a relay race where the goal is clean air? To get there we all need to work together to get the biggest improvements first and then keep improving. For our industry it means using technology to keep improving stoves, it means working constructively with legislators to implement meaningful and challenging standards which are enforceable and actually make a difference. We need to be really honest about where this is not happening and be prepared to take tough decisions. For those whose goal is to see all burning banned it might mean first putting their efforts into stopping the worst kind of burning – unregulated indoor and outdoor burning. Difficult conversations need to be had; goodwill needs to be shown on both sides, we may not agree on everything but we share the same goal and we can support each other in those things we do agree on. The prize is worth it, so let’s choose to believe the best in each other and together make a difference!

______________ 

Further reading that explains in more detail why we strongly feel a collaborative approach is required: 

https://www.charnwood.com/news/wood-burning-stoves-co-heating-future-a-nuanced-look-at-pm-25-emissions/ 

https://www.charnwood.com/news/wellbeing-benefits-log-burners/ 

https://www.charnwood.com/news/harnessing-the-power-of-wood-fuel-a-sustainable-approach-to-home-heating/ 

 

References: 

(1)https://www.clearskiesmark.org/about-us/certification-system-explained/ 

(2)https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/1124738/chief-medical-officers-annual-report-air-pollution-dec-2022.pdf 

(3)https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/summary-results-of-the-domestic-wood-use-survey 

(4) https://stoveindustryalliance.com/wood-burning-emissions-decrease-in-record-year-for-stove-sales/ 

charnwoodstoves

Whilst the notion that a colder winter follows a hot summer isn’t necessarily supported by science, it’s smart to hope for the best but prepare for the worst. With temperature records recently broken and weather impossible to predict, who is going to bet against it being a particularly chilly winter?!

With talk of gas and electricity prices rising significantly from October, it is understandable to feel somewhat alarmed. Rather than just feeling a sense of helplessness, we will discuss some tips for how stove owners can be proactive and soften the effects of the cost-of-living crisis. After all, the trusty wood-burner helped many homeowners through the oil crisis of the 1970s, and we’ll show you why it can still be relied upon more than ever in 2022.

Read on to get some stove owner tips (for all budgets) to help prepare for the winter energy crisis.

 

Get winter ready now!

Whether you’ve owned a stove for several years or are still considering buying one, it makes sense to start your preparations now. During the summer months, demand for stoves and spare parts, as well as stove installers and chimney cleaning services, reduces slightly and can make the process easier and sometimes a little cheaper.

 

Wood-stove owner tips to prepare for winter:

 

Clean your chimney and service your stove

We recommend an annual service for your chimney and stove. This ensures optimum performance and safety, meaning you are burning wood efficiently/cost effectively and avoid potential (expensive) problems down the line. We recommend speaking with your local dealer or installer about organising an annual service.

Explore how to clean your wood-burning stove!

 

Buy a great value & highly efficient stove

The Charnwood Country 4 Blu is fantastic value and a great long-term investment suitable for most homes. While the Country 4 is the smallest model in the Country collection, it still incorporates the ingenious features of the larger stoves and is exceptionally fuel efficient.

The Country 4 takes a decent sized log length of 332mm (13”) and has a rated output of 5kW and can be installed in certain situations without the need for external air – this is ideal for most sizable family rooms.

 

Fix up your existing stove

If you can’t afford a new stove, then the spares site could be just the solution to give your existing stove a new lease of life! We still recommend everyone upgrade to one of our new ultra-efficient stoves as soon as possible, but for those who are currently struggling financially, we hope the spares shop can help tide you over.

 

Heat Shields

Protect your home and benefit from redirecting your stove’s heat back into the heart of the room, further improving efficiency. Vlaze, our sister company, offer the original and best heat shields on the market. Check out our broad range of heatshields!

Source your wood early

Demand for wood has skyrocketed recently and this may have knock-on effects. It is prudent to source your wood from a local supplier now, so that you are winter ready and avoid any potential price rises as we approach the colder months.

 

Reduce your fuel bill – free sources of wood for your log burner!

1. Fallen trees

After a storm, fallen trees and branches become available which, with permission, you can collect, dry out/season, and use for firewood.

2. Industrial off-cuts

Woodworkers, sawmills, and joiners near to your home are worth contacting to find out if they ever have any off-cuts of untreated wood that they need to get rid of.

3. Freecycle

People often advertise free wood on sites like Gumtree and Freecycle for those who are happy to collect it.

Wherever you source your wood from, it must be untreated and free from paint, finishes or other potentially harmful substances. Also, check wood with a moisture meter and do not burn it unless it has a moisture content of less than 20%. This reduces harmful emissions and will increase the lifespan of your stove. For a list of the best types of firewood check out our Firewood chart.

Explore more on how wood is a sustainable fuel.

Save energy by cooking and heating at the same time

As well as heating your home you can save energy by cooking on your stove at the same time!

For some recipes, our blog has some great ideas…

Four things to cook on a stove top

If you want to take your stove cooking to the next level, keep your eyes peeled for our autumn stove release. The Charnwood Haven is a brand-new compact wood-burning cooker to celebrate Charnwood’s 50 years in business.

It has the functional charm of a rustic range cooker, but with all our clean burn technology included. It provides a 6kw output and comes equipped with a well-sized oven and large hot plate enabling you to cook with a wide array of pots, pans, and trivets. The integrated thermometer allows for greater temperature control and cooking accuracy. We are all excited by this one!

Also explore how to prepare your wood-burning stove for winter.

 

Fuel/Energy independence = Positive wellbeing!

Another significant reason to get a wood-burning stove is to protect yourself from fuel supply disruptions. Whether it is the result of a localised storm or wider national disruption, it is extremely reassuring to know that you can warm your home and cook food for the family with your trusty stove!

Here are some customer responses to our Wellbeing Survey in relation to owning a stove:

“We love our log burner. It makes us feel warm, safe and secure. It helps heat the whole house, which has proved an asset in power cuts. Nothing beats sitting in the living room with the warmth of the fire in the depths of winter.”

“Lighting the stove after a walk by the sea during winter is a joyful experience. Has helped to alleviate the worry of power failures as we live in an area prone to electricity outage during bad weather. Just knowing that we have our lovely stove for independent heat and low light is fab.”

“Back up for central heating given no of power outages,”

“As an electric only house, we wanted a plan b during a power cut to heat the home”

“more efficient than previous coal fire and, in extremis, if gas supply fails or is too expensive, will provide warmth.”

“Having a wood burner means I am less vulnerable in power cuts. I can still have heating, boil a kettle, cook food if I need to.”

The peace of mind our customers get from knowing, whatever the weather or economic or political climate, they can access fuel locally to heat their home is huge.

Explore other wellbeing benefits of owning a log burner!

__________________

We believe our products can contribute positively towards combating the environmental and cost of living challenges we face. Therefore, we are passionate about sharing ideas to be proactive and turn anxiety and uncertainty into confidence and optimism. We hope you will consider sharing this article with someone you think might benefit from reading it.

 

Why Choose Us?

Charnwood Stoves stands out as your trusted partner during the winter energy crisis. Our wood stoves are meticulously crafted to offer optimal efficiency and warmth, ensuring you stay comfortable while minimising energy consumption. With a commitment to sustainability, our team prioritise eco-friendly solutions that help combat climate change.

Choose Charnwood for reliable performance, innovative design, and a dedication to reducing your carbon footprint. Join us in creating a greener, more sustainable future without compromising on comfort or quality.

charnwoodstoves

The next in a series of essays by Charmain Ponnuthurai explores the importance of real fire in a modern world.

Sometimes we don’t, as the classic saying goes, see the wood for the trees. The argument against wood fires has reached this territory, and there is the danger that any understanding becomes lost in a forest of soundbites and clickbait headlines. Each side of the argument of course has biases towards their own interests, and there are, of course, holes in both. However, with the question of peoples’ wellbeing at stake, it is in everyone’s interests to ensure that we are considering all angles and understanding how serious the holes are.

We understand more than ever that physical and mental health do not stand in isolation from each other: instead they feed into one another in a symbiotic relationship. According to Cell Biologist Dr Bruce Lipton, our subconscious is the most potentially harmful component to our overall health, as without an understanding of our subconscious needs and desires, we cannot change our outside circumstances to match. The most harmful action towards our cells, according to Dr Lipton, is our ability to de-program the learnt behaviours from ages one to seven that determine how we react to 95% of dealing with daily life. This stagnation means we are not in touch with ourselves and fail to follow the much simple advice by all spiritual teachings, ‘of being in the moment’.

Technology has irrevocably changed the lives of all of us: we have a constant bombardment of information and data thrown at us, a stream that doesn’t even pause as we walk down the street, or take a journey on a train. We are constantly locked into our phones. This has resulted in an increased sense of anxiety both just when we speak to each other but from the data itself. Endless stimulation is a hard drug to unwind from. The majority of us spend our days behind a screen, on a phone and or talking on zoom calls, rather than meeting each other face to face, compounding the sense of anxiety we all at times share. One of the best ways to relax, then, is to find ways to be still and understand what is determining our actions, through daily rituals such as cooking. As we found in the Charnwood survey, which sampled over 1,200 people, many found solace in their woodburning stoves. The majority of participants in the survey said the most important use of their stove was the sense of wellbeing it brought them. The naturalness and sense of calm of seeing the element of fire and watching the flickering of a flame is something we can all relate to, whether that be from candlelight or a campfire.

It is important, however, to consider how we may use our stoves in the most healthy and environmentally efficient way. We must first consider the difference between efficient stoves and other forms of indoor fire. In the World Health Organisation report on Household Air Pollution it specifically lists that open fires and inefficient stoves, “generates harmful household air pollutionClick here to read more

At Charnwood, our central and ongoing commitment is to efficiency and the environment, to allow you to experience the maximum positive wellbeing effects, without compromising your physical health, or risking damage to your natural surroundings. We ensure efficiency by a constant refinement of the wood-burning process and technology, incorporated within our Eco Design. The key feature is our Quattroflow® Air Management System. You can read more about this here.

Our stoves are designed to run on seasoned or kiln-dried wood. It is very important that the logs you burn have a moisture content of less than 20%.

Hardwoods such as ash, birch, beech or oak are renowned for burning hot, clean and for longer periods. Softwoods such as fir, pine and sycamore can be used but will burn faster with moderate heat output. Freshly cut logs generally contain over 60% water and should be dried for 18-24 months before the wood is ready to burn.

Split wood into logs to a size to suit your stove’s firebox. Split some smaller pieces to use as kindling. Stack the wood in a place that gets plenty of sun and wind.

A pile of wood may rot before it has time to season, so make sure the logs are stacked in a way that allows air to circulate. Ideally, keep the stack off the ground and away from the house. Never stack logs above head height to prevent injury from falling logs. Cover the stack to protect it from rain and snow. You can cover just the top, or the sides as well – just make sure the air can get in and that moisture isn’t getting trapped. Store the wood for 18-24 months or until the moisture content is below 20%. It’s a good idea to bring wood inside two or three days before you intend to burn it to make sure it’s properly dried out and ready to use.

Kiln Dried Wood is another widely available alternative. The wood is cut, split and dried in large ovens, which speeds up the seasoning process. Look out for the Woodsure Ready to Burn label which guarantees a moisture content of 20% or less.

The broader medical understanding we now have of the importance of the link between the body and mind for overall well being reminds us that in order to manage the stress of modern daily life, we need simple rituals that take us back to nature and ourselves. Lighting a fire is one simple beginning, Chef & co-founder of Acme Fire Cult says, “without fire we would never have evolved from having fur”. As long as you follow our tips to ensure your fire is as environmentally and human health friendly as possible, it is sure to work wonders for your physical and mental health.
 

Lighting your fire

Follow our four simple steps when making your fire. By running your stove in

this way you will achieve maximum efficiency with minimum emissions.

● Place 2-3 smaller logs on the stove bed. On top of this build a Jenga

stack of 6-8 kindling sticks and place a natural fire lighter inside

● Close the door but leave it slightly ajar. This helps to heat the chimney

flue for a clean burn. Once the fire is burning well close the door and

reduce the air control.

● Fully open the air control for maximum air intake and a quick and easy

ignition. Light the fire lighter.

● Every time a log is added, open the air control again until the fire is

burning well and then return the air control to normal. Re-fuel little

and often.

Maintain your stove

The winter months are when your Charnwood stove will see the most use.

Regular maintenance will ensure your stove burns safely and efficiently while

giving you many years of service.

Clean the glass – If soot accumulates on the stove glass we offer an

effective Atmosfire dry wiper for cleaning. For any stubborn stains you

can use a stove glass cleaner or ceramic hob cleaner but avoid using

any abrasive cleaning products.

Clean the surface – When it comes to cleaning the exterior surface of

your stove and the surrounding area, you can’t go far wrong with a

soft brush and a damp, lint free cloth. It is important you only clean

your stove when it is unlit and cool to the touch.

Empty Ash Pan – When burning wood it is helpful and effective to

start your fire on a bed of wood ash but avoid letting the ash build up

too much. When your Charnwood stove is not in use empty out the

ash pan and firebox completely.

Inspect door seals – Take the opportunity to regularly check the rope

seals on the doors and around the flue to ensure your fire box is air

tight and the doors close firmly. A well sealed stove will burn much

more efficiently and effectively.

Sweep Frequently -It’s important to keep your flue clear of

blockages and soot and we recommend you have your chimney swept

at least once a year. Your Charnwood stove is fitted with a dropdown

throat plate allowing you to sweep through the appliance with

minimum mess.

Read more about the argument surrounding wood fires and why there is more to the story

” Therefore see whether the light that is in you isn’t darkness. If therefore your whole body is full of light, having no part dark, it will be wholly full of light, as when the lamp with its bright shining gives you light.”

Luke 11:34–36

charnwoodstoves

The SIA have written a fantastic blog to address the anti-woodburner’s misleading, ambiguous and, in some cases, untrue media campaign. It was released in time for Clean Air Night to give consumers a chance to get both sides of the story. Here we will share the key information as we want to amplify their important voice in this ongoing debate.
 

The claims made here by the London Wood Burning Project (above left) and cleanairhub.org.uk (above right) rely on the grouping of all methods of burning wood (including garden bonfires & firepits) at home. However, the data from the National Atmospheric Emissions Inventory (NAEI) shows us that burning dry wood on an Ecodesign compliant stove accounted for less than 0.1% of total UK PM2.5 emissions in 2021.

Modern stoves offer a range of benefits and you can get both sides of the story and learn more about that here.

Just like the posts above, the term ‘wood burning’ in this post (below) is deliberately ambiguous and takes no account of the type of appliance or quality of the wood fuel.
 

There is reliable evidence that using dry wood and other sustainable solid fuels can help consumers reduce their home heating bills. A recent study by Gemserve for Homefire found that households with gas central heating that adopt zonal heating using dry wood fuel could save up to 7% on their annual heating bill and up to 11% using smokeless solid fuel in the same way.

The same study also found that using renewable, sustainably sourced wood fuel instead of fossil fuel gas results in typical carbon savings of over half a tonne of CO2e / year.

You can read more about this study here
 

The claim (above) that a wood burning stove is six times more polluting than an HGV is hugely misleading.

The claim is based on a report by the European Environmental Bureau published in 2022 that looks at the amount of emissions given off by generating a GJ of heat in a stove compared to the emissions releases generating a GJ of power in an HGV.

The claims made by the study rely on a simplistic calculation using permitted rates of emission. The study also fails to factor in the non-exhaust emissions of the HGV.

What we end up with is an apples and oranges comparison that fails to consider the impact of real-world use. According to a 2020 Defra report, on average stove users light their stoves for between 3.7 and 4.5 hours a day during the winter months. An HGV can be driven by the same driver for up to 9 hours per day, and the vehicle potentially operates 24/7 up to 365 days a year.

This means that over the course of 1 week’s real-world use a Euro 6 HGV actually produces 13 times more PM2.5 (271g) than an Ecodesign stove (20.16g). You can read more on this comparison here.
 

This claim (above) by campaign group Mums for Lungs is ambiguous and relies on the reader not seeking any further information on the data.

The data from the National Atmospheric Emissions Inventory (NAEI) which breaks down UK PM2.5 emissions by activity and source, shows us that in 2021 cigarette smoking accounted for 12 times more PM2.5 in the UK than burning dry wood on an Ecodesign compliant stove did.

Some of the adverts by the cleanairhub.org.uk, part of Global Action Plan, in support of Clean Air Night even contain false claims (see below).
 

This is one example. Contrary to the information given in this post, wood logs have the lowest carbon emission factor of any domestic heating fuel at 0.01kg CO2e per kWh. That’s 1/20th the carbon emissions of natural gas or electricity, and 1/29th that of oil.

Burning dry wood is a modern, Ecodesign compliant stove is a low carbon way to heat you home and can play a key role in helping the UK to meet its net zero objectives.

You can find out more about the benefits of choosing modern stoves here.
 

This statement (above) is false. Woodland management is needed to ensure healthy forests and the ecosystems they support.

Wood fuel is a key component of the woodland management cycle and the economies attached to it. Using wood as fuel also plays a vital role in maintaining woodland diversity, health, and resilience. Locally sourced wood fuel helps support small businesses and reduces the carbon footprint of fuel transport.

You can learn more about the importance of woodland management here
 

This is another misleading statement (above) and one which is actually disproved by the findings of a recent Imperial College study which found that a “clearSkies Level 5 stove demonstrated some benefits for indoor air quality” and that “the biggest increases in PM2.5 concentrations indoors did not relate to indoor wood or solid-fuel burning but instead were a result of cooking…”.

A literature review by commissioned by the SIA and carried out by the University of Manchester found no scientific evidence for adverse health impacts from exposure to the indoor air typically associated with modern, enclosed wood burning stoves.

You can read more about this here

And lastly for something positive. We could not agree more with this post and there are significant reductions (up to 90%) possible in the emissions created by domestic burning by switching from open fires and older stoves to modern, Ecodesign compliant stoves.
 

The SIA encourages all solid fuel stove users to educate themselves on the importance of:

Using the right appliance – if you use an open fire or an older stove it is time to upgrade. A modern Ecodesign compliant stove releases up to 90% less emissions than an open fire and up to 80% less than many older stoves.

Ensuring your stove is fitted by an appropriately qualified competent person e.g. HETAS or OFTEC registered.

Always use good quality fuel. Look for the Ready to Burn logo and never use chemically treated wood or burn waste on your stove.

Get your stove serviced and your chimney swept at least once a year. We recommend NVQ qualified sweeps for this.

You can download this page as a PDF here.

These blogs by SIA members are also well worth a read:

Charnwood Stoves

Certainly Wood

Charlton & Jenrick