Since the cost of living crisis became such big news, log burner sales have increased by over 50%. Earlier in the year, the focus was on the rocketing prices of diesel and petrol. Now – especially as we head into the colder winter months – people are increasingly worried about their energy bills. Here at Kitchen Warehouse we have noticed that more people are having open-plan kitchens and living spaces. More homeowners are planning to use only the log burner to heat the space. The plan ito leave the heating off around the rest of the house.

But, if log burner sales are up by over 50%, it means that a lot more people will be burning a lot more stuff all over the country. A log burner in an open-plan kitchen and living space might sound fantastic – but what about the cost to the environment?

Log Burner Sales are high – but what are the other costs?

Log burner sales may well be up but at the same time it can’t go unnoticed that other figures related to log burner sales are very high too. Indeed, the headline figures are shocking. Firstly, it is estimated that the health-related social costs of log burner stoves is as much as 40 x that of a gas boiler over a single year.

Across the EU, wood burning in homes is responsible for £7.5bn of health-related damages. In the UK alone, that figure stands at £0.9bn a year. Studies conducted by the European Public Health Alliance estimated that home heating causes a total cost of £29bn a year – including illnesses, loss of days at work, and premature deaths.

Out of all of this, around 35% is caused by wood burning. This figure is stark, especially when you consider that wood burners are only responsible for around of 6% of domestic heat in the UK, and 9% in the EU.

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The cost to the environment

Nearly all experts agree about another thing too. Researchers say that the various cost estimates that have been put forward are on the conservative side. This is because it is not possible to include the impact of indoor air pollution from heating in these figures, due to a lack of data. There is a general consensus that when it comes to pollution, the focus is all too often about transport, and transport alone. Other sources of air pollution, such as from heating and cooking are often overlooked. There are some sources of energy, such as heat pumps and solar water heaters, that produce no air pollution at all. However, these sources are very rarely used – in contrast to the increased popularity of log burner sales.

And the risk to health is major too

It is clear and obvious that the burning of biomass and fossil fuels at home comes at great cost to the environment. However – perhaps surprisingly – many people appear to be less aware of the potential health risks. The long-term solution is to ensure that homes are powered by clean renewables. But as people struggle with high energy prices, quick and dirty solutions suddenly become more attractive.

Air pollution – a silent killer

Air pollution is the biggest environmental risk to health. It is estimated that, globally, it causes millions of premature deaths a year. As an example, in the EU, just one of the reported pollutants – PM2.5 (small particles under 2.5 microns in size) – is blamed for over 300,000 deaths a year. Global studies have also shown that air pollution can potentially damage every organ in the body.

Some of the other headlines associated with wood burning stoves are particularly alarming. Wood burning stoves in urban areas have been cited as the being responsible for almost half of all exposure to cancer-related chemicals.

Data has shown that wood burners actually emit more particle pollution than traffic. Particle pollution causes various toxins to enter the bloodstream. Exposure can have a significant impact to health as the toxins can be transported around the body, affecting the brain, heart, and other organs. Campaigners claim that the decrease in particle pollution from coal burning, industry, and transport have largely been offset by emission increases in two main areas: biomass burning by industry – and wood burning in domestic settings. Some campaigners see the issue as so important that they have called the rise in log burner sales a ‘public health catastrophe.’ They have even called for the sale and new installation of wood burning stoves to be banned.

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Log Burner Sales – More appealing than ever to homeowners

Authorities are mixed in their responses. The EU tightened their rules on air pollution limits earlier this year. The latest Ecodesign wood burning stoves are now mandatory for all new sales in the EU and the UK. However, a recent study found that even these Ecodesign models – the most environmentally-friendly on the market – emit 750 times more tiny particle pollution than a modern HGV.

Similarly, the UK government has recently set new air quality limits for 2040. This seems a great step forward, until you realise that that the proposed new limits would allow twice as much PM2.5 pollution as the upper limit of current recommendations set by the World Health Organisation.

The reality is, however, that despite all these concerns about air pollution and the potential effects on both health and the environment, for many homeowners, skyrocketing energy prices right now and in the future are a bigger concern. It’s only natural that people will look to alternative ways to keep warm – especially as we move into the coldest part of the year.

Homeowners are powerless against the threat of rising gas and electricity costs. Media talk about the potential risk of winter blackouts doesn’t help matters either. It stands to reason that people will look to protect themselves and ensure that they are not so reliant on gas and electricity, or left vulnerable to any further price increases.

Log Burner Sales – Providing energy independence

The energy independence that a wood-burning stove brings to the table is a big advantage. As long as you have your necessary wood supplies, you can decide how much to burn. Powercuts and blackouts are no longer something to worry too much about. And exorbitant energy bills are a thing of the past too.

Although the initial cost outlay of a wood-burning stove can be fairly high, the costs can be recouped very quickly – especially if the energy price cap rises and government support is reduced. Electric heating costs around three times as much as the cost of a wood-burning stove. Log burners are around 13% cheaper than the price of gas central heating for the average household.

How much does a wood burner cost to install?

If you are wondering whether to get a log burner installed in your home, the cost to your bank balance and to the environment should be considered. There is certainly no hard and fast price for installing a log burner in the home. Costs will depend on the quality and type of the stove you choose, and the type of property you live in. Prices for log burners range anywhere from £500 for a basic burner to in excess of £5,000 for the most upmarket and luxurious of designs.

Installation costs also vary and are dependent on factors such as the age of the property and whether it has a chimney. Installing a burner in a property with a pre-existing chimney typically costs around £1,000-£1,500. If a flue system is required because the property hasn’t got a chimney, costs will rise to £2,000-£2,500.

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Log Burner Sales – What are the running costs?

Once you have covered the initial outlay of installation, the cost of running a stove is cheaper than its gas and electric alternatives. The Energy Saving Trust estimates that wood burners can reduce a domestic heating bills by 10% – but as energy prices continue to rise, the savings that a log burner can bring you will increase too.

The Stove Industry Alliance has produced typical cost calculations. It estimates that a burner will use an average of 3.5 cubic metres of wood during the colder months from mid-October to mid-April. Normal use – evenings and weekends – would therefore make the average heating costs for this period at between £420-£490.

Because of rising fuel costs, wood burning becomes all the more cost-effective, Naturally there is now increased demand for wood fuel supplies. Concern continues to grow about the financial impact on families of the further energy price rises.

A wood burning stove comfortably heats the room in which it is situated. However, the great advantage is that it will also warm the whole home at the same time. This reduces the  reliance on gas, electricity and oil for heating. For many homeowners, a log burner offers a practical and  effective way to reduce home energy bills.

How eco-friendly are wood burners?

As we have seen earlier, the green merits of log burners have been called into question by many studies. However, the industry itself argues differently. It is definitely true to say that the energy efficiency of a wood burner depends on its age. The terms ‘Ecodesign’ and ‘Ecodesign Ready’ stove refers to burners that meet the European standards on particle emission and air pollution. New burners needed to be compliant by this year. Many manufacturers adopted the new requirements long ahead of the deadline.

According to the Stove Industry Alliance, the quality of wood that is burned can make a big difference. An Ecodesign burner using quality wood emits as much as 90% less PM2.5 than an open fire. In fact, it emits 80% less than a stove which is over ten years old.

The Stove Industry Alliance argues that there have beebn considerable improvements in technology over the last five years or so in the run-up to the Ecodesign regulations coming into force. This makes contemporary wood burning an efficient, renewable, and sustainable choice for domestic use. Similarly, over changes in legislation have forced people to burn cleaner alternatives. For example, house coal for domestic use, and the sale of wet wood have been banned.

Are the downsides of log burners worth it?

Experts have raised health concerns over particle pollution in the home. One study found that regular use – as little as four hours – causes the build-up of harmful particles to triple. Burning wet wood is particularly harmful.

However, as regulations change, log burner stoves have become much safer and more environmentally friendly.

And the economics don’t lie. Wood burners are a long-term investment. Once the initial set-up costs have been met, a wood burner stove begins to save you money almost straightaway. The money that can be saved in the medium to long term by reducing reliance on and vulnerability to rising energy tariffs is not to be sniffed at.

Experts have also claimed that wood burners can add value to your property too – by as much as 5%.

Wood burning stoves can be carbon neutral

As we’ve mentioned before, the green merits of wood burning stoves have certainly been called into question. There does appear to a degree of disagreement on the issue, however. One thing is sure, the demand for cleaner, renewable energy sources has never been greater.

Ecodesign stoves are seen as part of the solution. They have greatly reduced the air pollution caused by older stoves and open fires. Indeed, wood burning stoves can be carbon neutral. When appropriately seasoned wood is burnt efficiently, it can be a carbon neutral process. This is because the CO2 that is produced through burning is offset. CO2 is absorbed by the tree itself during its lifetime. Not only that, qood quality wood will also emit less CO2 when burned in a stove. It is more harmful to the environment if it is left to simply decay naturally. Many firewood suppliers are committed to replanting every tree that is cut down.

As society becomes more environmentally aware, the cleaner credentials of wood burning stoves will be seen as even more important.

Log burners can be efficient

Another increasingly important factor about a property’s value is how efficient it is. It’s no surprise that installing central heating, double glazing, or a new boiler all add value to your home. The common denominator here is that they all make your heating more efficient. A wood burning stove can provide similar advantages. A high quality Ecodesign stove can produce 80%+ in efficiency. This means that over 80% of the energy used is converted into actual heating for your home.

For more advice about new kitchens and home improvements, get in touch with the Kitchen Warehouse team.