Will wood burning stoves be banned in the UK?

In February 2020, the Government announced plans to phase out the sale of house coal and wet wood for use in wood burning stoves. This news has caused confusion and worry for many homeowners who currently enjoy using a stove in their home and also those currently looking considering purchasing a woodburner.

The good news is that the government isn't banning the sale of wood or multi-fuel burning stoves in the UK!

The facts of the latest announcement refer to the Government plans to phase out the sales of all bagged traditional house coal by February 2021 through retailers such as supermarkets and DIY stores and by February 2023 via approved coal merchants. Sales of wood with a high moisture content will also be banned from February 2021.

These new rules are welcomed by the stove industry and Heat Installers as both wet wood and house coal should not be used on a stove anyway as they will more than likely cause problems with the flue and could damage a stove. If a quality stove is fitted properly to HETAS regulations, it should provide many years of dependable service. In most instances, if we get called out to a homeowner who is experiencing issues with their stove, it is almost always due to the type of fuel they are burning.

Wet wood will create excessive soot build up in the flue and end up clogging it up so much that the fumes won't be able to be expelled up through the chimney and ultimately start entering the room. Wet logs produce high levels of smoke producing more than twice the amount of smoke emissions than from seasoned or dry wood and will never reach the same heat output compared to burning dry wood.

Burning wet wood is also inefficient as it demands a lot of heat to boil off the water before the appliance can give out the proper level of heat to the room. In turn, this creates excessive smoke which damages the chimney and blackens the appliance and contributes to air pollution.

Traditional house coal was used for open fires and will burn too hot for a stove and will often burn out internal components within the stove plus it's also very messy. Coal also has a delayed burn and releases thick, volatile smoke which fills up the chimney.

Ultimately, even the very best stoves are only as good as the fuel they burn. The latest EcoDesign Ready stoves that have passed the directive set to come into force in 2022 have much lower emissions compared to open fires and older stoves and it is imperative that you look after the stove (and the environment) by ensuring you burn the right fuel.

Dry wood that has been properly sourced and seasoned means it produces fewer particulates, more heat efficiency and less maintenance – chimneys are less likely to block and will remain easier to sweep. We recommend either seasoning your own wood or purchasing kiln dried wood which will have a moisture content of less than 20%.

If you want to burn wood immediately look for the 'Ready to Burn' logo as a guarantee of good quality dry wood.

If you're thinking of a multi-fuel stove, use approved smokeless fuels instead of coal. Smokeless fuels produce less carbon and smoke compared to house coal when burned and it  also provides more heat so it will cost less money to heat your home.

Regularly maintain and service your stove (annually) to ensure it will work better and will generate more heat from what you burn. Always operate your stove in line with the manufacturer’s guidance.

Get your chimney swept regularly (up to twice a year). During use, particulates build up in the chimney reducing the efficiency and increasing the risk of chimney fires.

So, to recap, wood burning stoves are not being banned and continue to be a superb way to heat your home. As long as you use the right fuel, you will enjoy many years of excellent performance and create that cosy atmosphere which only a real fire offers.