With cooler weather fast approaching, the aesthetis allure of life in a listed home may quickly become compromised as rooms that were comfortable throughout the summer are transformed into unwelcoming spaces that are chilled and damp: hardly an incentive to get out of bed in the mornings! Restrictions to changing exterior and interior features in a listed property can often make it very difficult to tackle the problem of heating - both its efficacy and efficiency. Resorting to electric heating appliances for a quick and simple solution to this problem is sensible but the addition of clunky storage heaters into your historic rooms will undoubtedly be purely practical and at the sacrifice of your home's interior sytle.
Luckily, there is a rise in the design integrity of electric stoves coming onto the market via manufactures who've invested not lnly in the look of their products but the technology which underpins them. The result is a much better choice of pleasing appliances that you won't feel obliged to apologise for, rather from which you will gain a useful heat source that blends into your home effortlessly.
Electric stoves frequently feather the same sturdy cast iron body as their traditional woodburner equivalents. Cast iron diffuses warmth making it the perfect materual for stoves and ensuring its long association with this product. It is also capable of being cast more thickly where required and into intricate patterns for a decorative finish.
Internally however, the nod to tradition gives way to the modern with innovative and cutting edge flame effect technology. The fuel effects are becoming increasingly realistic; some are hand painted and most depict wood logs complete with glowing ashes and embers. So called "Veriflame™' technology allows the flame effect to be varied from low to high and often includes a blue option for an altogether different feel. Shoudl you wish, the flame effect can frequently be employed without the heat output to give atmospheric visuals on warmer evenings.
In terms of heat, electric stoves tend to offer a range of temperature settings and emit up to 2kw which should be more than enough to provide warmth to a bedroom or the corner of a popular gathering point. In fact all you need is an electricity socket and a quick switch of a button on the remote control to 'fire' an electric stove up: the beauty of electric being that once it is switched on, it begins to make a difference straight away. This ability to quickly provide localised heat as well as the 99% efficiency rating means you will be able to make use of your electric stove when and where you most need it. Targeting the heat output is sensible and in light of rising energy bills, electric stoves used in this way are an attractive prospect that can take the edge of your utility bill as well as the nip in the air.
Whether inserted into an existing fireplace or located 'freestanding' in the room, an electric stove does not need a flue or installation of any kind: simply make your purchase, choose your spot, plug it in and enjoy the instantly created cosy atmosphere.
It is important to start thinking about getting your wood burning stoves ready and stocking up on wood for the coming months. Here is some tips on how to burn wood efficiently, and how to get the most out of your wood burner over the winter months.
Should I get Kiln dried or Seasoned Logs?
Firstly, it is important to prepare for the cold by sourcing wood that been properly seasoned. This is an important step, as the moisture content needs to be under 20% to ensure a clean, efficient burn. Clean burning will be obvious, as the firebox will be bright and clean, clean door glass and no build-up of black tars in the stove or chimney.
Kiln dried logs are much more convenient to obtain and can be used immediately. Freshly cut logs will need to be correctly stored and seasoned before use which can take up to 2 years.
Seasoned logs will be easier to light and provide maximum heat output.
How often do I need to clean my wood burner?
Once the logs have been brought, it's important to have your chimney swept and your stove serviced before you start burning any wood. The chimney should be cleaned by a professional chimney sweep and on average, may need sweeping once or twice per year depending on use. The stove should be cleaned and serviced as detailed in the user instructions, with any damaged parts replaced before re-lighting the stove. This work can be completed by ourselves using manufactures replacement parts.
Caring for your chimney and wood burning stove is an important process and must be become a habit to make sure you avoid damaging your chimney but also to make sure you get the most out of your wood burning stove.
How much wood do I need to use?
Once you've bought your logs, had the chimney swept and stove serviced, the next step is to get ready to light it. It is good to have more than one or two logs in a wood burner for a constant heat, but overloading it will have the opposite effect and the fire will not have enough air for clean combustion.
A fire should have a few cut, loosely stacked logs on it to make sure that there is a bigger surface area to burn. One large log will not burn well as the air will not circulate well for clean effective combustion.
Fire burning typically happens in three stages:
- The first stage is when the water is burned off - and this is why using dry logs is much better, as not only it burns cleaner with dry logs, but quicker this stage is over, the quicker the stove will be able to get hot
- Stages two and three are all about getting the fire up to a good temperature. Any gasses are driven off in stage two and when the 'charcoal burn' occurs in stage three you will be able to embers glowing
Do I need to think about air in the wood burner?
Once the correct amount of logs have been stacked onto the wood burner, it is important to make sure that there is enough air in the firebox to ignite and maintain a healthy fire. We would suggest that all of the air controls are open and you can leave the door slightly ajar as the fire establishes. The product user instructions will give more details about the efficient use of the controls.
Having the correct amount of air in the key areas of the firebox, combined with the correct loading, will ensure a clean burning and long lasting fire. Refuelling little and often is a good way to achieve this, and experience will enable you to find the best settings for your stove.
With many solid fuel stoves designed to be either dedicated wood burning stoves or multi fuel stoves, it is usesful to be aware of the distinction before you decide which would best suit your needs.
Many stoves on the market today are designed as dedicated wood burning or multi fuel appliances. Although there are similarities and logs may be burnt on multi fuel stoves, there are some important differences to the structure of each type of stove to ensure their efficiency and performance when burning their specified fuel type.
Wood burning is literally that - burning wood logs and nothing else. Wood burning stoves are specifically designed to create the optimum burning conditions for logs. Their fixed grate allows for the creation of a bed of ashes onto which new logs can be placed to burn. The ashes help the logs to combust evenly. Additionally, air is supplied over the logs to stimulate combustion and ensure a powerful heat output.
Most of our wood burning stoves are designed for maximum efficiency; most models are equipped with cleanburn technology, a sophisticated system to introduce pre-heated air into the firebox to combust any unburnt hydrocarbons. This creates even more heat for your room as well as the effective use of the fuel - this, in turn ensures your stove's firebox is kept clean. Many stoves also offer an Airwash function which in conjunction with Cleanburn helps to keep the glass in your stove door clear so you get a fantastic view of the swirling flames and glowing embers within the firebox.
Multi fuel stoves can burn a combination of materials including wood logs, peat/turf briquettes and coal and this enables you to select fuels that are the most cost effective and readily available in the vicinity of the home. As smokeless fuels burn better when raised, as air may be drawn in from underneath to facilitate combustion, most multi fuel stoves are designed with a riddling grate which allows ash to disperse (be riddled) into a built in ashpan. This ashpan can be quickly and easily emptied to ensure the flow of air under the fuel. They may also include a primary air inlet to further facilitate the movement of air beneath the grate. Some mutli fuel stoves also benefit from the advantages of Cleanburn and Airwash, additionally some stoves couple these functions with 'AMS' (Ash Management Solution) which allows you to clean the ashes from your stove via an external ashpan.
Although many stoves are designed as dedicated wood burners or multi fuel stoves, some also come with a special conversion kit to enable you to take advantage of both fuel types.
Burning logs in a wood burning stove will not only keep your home warm and comforting this winter, but can also help reduce carbon footprint.
However, when we talk about the environmental benefits of wood burning, we are referring to wood that has been home-grown or purchased from a sustainable source, and has a moisture content of 20% or less when burnt. To help you achieve this low moisture content, here is our advice on how to dry your logs.
Where do I dry my logs?
Drying your own logs can save money, but you will need the space and the time to dry them. Logs take 12-18 months to dry sufficiently, so planning ahead is key. Firstly, you will need space to stack and dry logs. Before stacking, logs should be split until they are 10cm in diameter or less - any thicker will slow the drying process.
A proper log store is vital; it should be covered at the top, but with open sides. Inside you will need bearers to raise your wood from the ground. It is highly advisable not to place your wood store against buildings; this can slow the drying process due to damp and even cause pest problems. Exposure to the elements is a good thing, plenty of sun and wind will dry logs faster.
How do I know when my logs are dry?
Wood needs to be dried for a minimum of 12-18 months, until it has a moisture content of 20% or less. The easiest method of determining the moisture content of your logs is to use a moisture meter. Another way of telling if your wood is fit to burn is to check it is dark in colour, lighter in weight and makes a hollow sound when two logs are beaten together. Any green colour underneath the bark signifies that the logs are not yet dry enough; this is also true if the bark is hard to peel.
Following these simple steps will ensure you of a cleaner and easier burn for your wood burning stove and allow you to enjoy the flames to their maximum potential.
Fuels, including wood burning and gas, are safe to burn if your stove or fire is installed, maintained and used correctly. If you don't regularly maintain your wood burner, for example, you are at risk from a Carbon Monoxide leak that is the result of incomplete burning of a fuel.
Carbon Monoxide is highly poisonous and has no taste, smell or colour and can be present in gas, oil, solid mineral fuel and wood burning products. If you do become exposed to CO (Carbon Monoxide) gas it can lead to permanent damage to your health and in a high dose can be fatal.
But, if you look out for the signs and take the following advice you will dramatically reduce the risk of exposure.
These are very easy to confuse with common illness, so be vigilant.
- Short of breath
- Stomach pains
- Chect pains
- Erratic behaviour
Fit an Audible CO Alarm
HETAS recommend that a CO alarm is installed in your house for both new and existing installations. Energy Innovation stock Carbon Monoxide Detectors which use the latest in electrochemical cell technology to ensure accuracy and reliability when protecting your family and home. It is also cleverly designed so that you can simply 'fit & forget'
- Battery is supplied pre-fitted and guaranteed for 6 years
- Easy to install with fixing pack included
- No maintenance required, no need to replace any parts or batteries
If you would like any more information about this please get in touch with us on 01422 344435