Pretty much bang on cue, as the burning seasons gets into full swing in the UK, a slew of negative headlines appear in the national press about woodburners and multi fuel stoves.
The sort of sensationalism we see actually worries many people, both those who have them already installed and those who are thinking about getting one soon.
It all tends to focus on the increasing amount of emissions in our towns and cities. They then link this to domestic burning – but miss out a massively important point.
The truth is that woodburners and stoves are not, by themselves, polluting. But the way some people use them are. And that’s simply down to a lack of education.
Most people who get a stove installed or ‘inherit’ an appliance when they move into a new property, rely on old wives’ tales about how to start a fire and look after it. Very few are sat down and given some very basic instructions on how to use their appliance.
Also, for generations now, we’ve got used to just turning a dial or flicking a switch and heating has come on. We’ve not had to think about it or use any skill to produce it. You can’t do that with a solid fuel appliance. Even if you have the most efficiently, environmentally-friendly stove in the world, and the best, highly-quality fuel, if you don’t know how to use your stove, then you will cause pollution.
That’s why I was proud, along with fellow sweeps, to launch the Burnright campaign. Its aim is simple – to help people understand how to use their appliances properly. The launch has been welcomed by the Government and DEFRA (the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs), which sees it as an important resource in the fight to lower emissions. By following a few simple steps, you can – in one fell swoop – cut emissions, reduce the risk of chimney fires and save money.
It can also be very environmentally friendly. Wood is a renewable energy source. If you cut a tree down in your locality, season it for the appropriate amount of time and then burn it an the right temperature, then it can be a completely carbon-neutral process (i.e. – the amount of carbon given off during combustion is the same amount as the volume absorbed by the tree during its lifetime).
Compare this to the most popular forms of domestic heating, gas and oil, which are both fossil, non-renewable fuels.
Thankfully, more is now being done to educate consumers on how to look after their appliance. As a sweep, I always pass on various hints and tips to my customers on how to get their best out of their fire.
There’s plenty of information elsewhere on this website and the Burnright site, so I won’t duplicate it. But the nub of it is that if you burn the correct fuel at the correct temperature, and get your chimney swept regularly (at least annually), then you are heading in very much the right direction.
So next time you see a negative story about woodburners or stoves, take it with a massive pinch of salt. Because when it comes to home being environmentally-friendly, it can actually be one of the best sources of heat available.
Mr Soot Chimney Sweep is a HETAS Approved Sweep, and member of the Guild of Master Chimney Sweeps, offering a professional and friendly chimney sweep and stove service in Wigan, Stockport, St Helens, Ormskirk, Chorley and surrounding areas. Book Mr Soot online or call 0800 0541154.