The financial case for installing a wood-burning stove

Many of us can recall those brutal days when, in the name of modernity, some home owners began chucking out their old fireplaces and removing awkward chimney breasts to create contemporary spaces with clean lines and flat walls. Even today, most new-build flats have no hint of a fireplace. After all, who’d want a smoky wood-burning stove of a bygone age when you can have under floor heating or slimline   radiators?

But times are changing. Soaring heating bills, environmentally sound and clean fuels, and the return of people wanting more character in their homes have all contributed to a revival of the traditional fireplace and surround. In fact, a feature fireplace can add up to 5 per cent to a home’s value. And at this time of year, the warm glow and crackle of logs burning in the hearth seem very appealing indeed. ‘More people are starting to realise that they can have a wood-burning stove, even in the city and in smoke-controlled areas,’ says David Adamson, of Direct Stoves and Fireplaces. Technology has advanced — many a wood-burning stove are now DEFRA approved, meaning you can burn wood and other smokeless fuels even in London terrace properties. ‘Not only that, by burning wood you are heating your home as carbon neutrally as possible — and, with a little investment, it will actually save you money long-term.’

Heating just the room that you are in is certainly more cost-effective than centrally heating an entire house. Using wood as your heat source costs 2.5p per kw/h compared with gas at 4 pence and electricity at 11 pence, say HETAS, the solid fuels industry body and HETAS has seen an unprecedented interest in a wood-burning stove, with more than 200,000 installed last year — up by more than 50 per cent in five years.

It’s something that Alexandra Marr from Crieff, near Perth, has noticed. ‘We have two open fireplaces, and having spent the summer filling our woodshed, and every weekend since refilling it, we soon realised that it goes through so much more wood compared to a wood-burner. ‘So now we have had two wood-burning stoves put into the fireplaces, to save energy and, hopefully, money.’

For those with modest means and a modern home, a wood-burning stove is  increasingly the heat source of choice.