Stoves and electric fires are fundamentally very different in their overall design. However, in recent years, both have made huge advancements in design to make them both sustainable heating sources for a home.
In this article we look at both electric fires and stoves, for the simple reason that in some homes a wood burning stove is not an option, and electricity is the only power option – this can be especially true in new build housing developments.
Electric fires – One attractive feature of electric fires, is that they are very simple to use. Simply plug in, switch on and warm up. Many electric fires nowadays require a very low level of energy, meaning they are very cheap to use. Allowing you to heat your home for less, and being more environmentally friendly at the same time.
Unlike gas fires, electric fires do not need an annual inspection either. Electric fires can be fitted in such a variety of places in the home. Many such fires have a side heating design, allowing you to place a fire below a wall mounted TV or very close to the floor.
Another benefit of electric fires, is that there is no water involved, like with a traditional central heating/radiator set up. As a result there is no wasted heat through pipeworks, or the associated inconvenience and cost of pipe blockages. An electric fire is classed as 100% efficient. This is because 2kW of electricity is used to product 2kW of heat in a home.
Wood burning stoves are good – but they cant achieve this level of efficiency, although they are taking large strides in becoming more fuel efficient.
Wood burning stoves – In recent years, wood burning stoves have made advancements in efficiency, to make them cheaper to run, and more environmentally friendly. In comparison to a traditional open fire, a high efficiency, wood burning stove is around four times more efficient. An open fire is about 20% efficient, while a high efficiency stove is around 80% efficient. With an open fire, 80% of the heat produced is wasted – usually disappearing up the chimney. With a wood burning stove, this figure is only 20% – the other 80% goes directly on heating a home.
The result of advancements in wood burning stoves means less wood needs to be burnt for the same heat output, saving money and helping contribute to a cleaner, more sustainable way of heating a home.
Below are some tips to ensure maximum efficiency when burning wood:
- Ensure you only burn well-seasoned wood. Wood with excessive moisture will contribute towards chimney congestion, increase the risks of carbon monoxide poisoning, and chimney fires. Burning unseasoned wood will also product a poor, inefficient heat output.
- Ensure your chimney and stove is cleaned on a regular basis by a qualified chimney sweep.
- Burn the best wood you can afford. Below is a list of some of the best woods.
Ash – Ash is regarded as one of the very best woods for burning. Ash produces a steady flame and a good heat output. Unlike other wood, ash can be burnt when green, but like with most wood burns at it’s very best when it is dry.
Beech – Like ash, beech burns very well. However, it does not burn well when green due to it’s much higher moisture content when live.
Hawthorn – This type of wood has a slow burn rate, and a good heat output.
Rowan – Similar to hawthorn, rowan has a very good heat output that burns slowly. Rowan is also know as Mountain Ash.
Thorn – Thorn produces very little smoke, which makes it an ideal wood where excessive smoke could be an issue.
Yew – Slow burn and produces a great, intense heat. Burning yew also produces a pleasant scent, which makes it stand out a little more over other woods.