Frequently Asked Questions
What Are Smoke Control Areas?
There are a number of areas within the UK in which the local authority restricts the burning of fuel in a stove or fireplace that emits smoke. These areas are called Smoke Control Zones. You are able to burn smokeless fuels such as anthracite on a multi-fuel stove, but not wood.
Smoke control areas tend to be in larger cities, however if you are unsure, you should contact your local authority, who can tell you if you are in a smoke control zone and will have details of permitted fuels and appliances. Alternatively you can Click here for a list of Smoke Control Areas.
There are a number of wood burning stoves and multi-fuel stoves that are permitted for burning wood within a smoke control area, due to their low emissions. These are stoves that have been approved by DEFRA (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) as suitable for burning wood in a smoke control zone.
Smoke Control Areas
Under the Clean Air Act local authorities may declare the whole or part of the district of the authority to be a smoke control area. It is an offence to emit smoke from a chimney of a building, from a furnace or from any fixed boiler if located in a designated smoke control area. It is also an offence to acquire an “unauthorised fuel” for use within a smoke control area unless it is used in an “exempt” appliance (“exempted” from the controls which generally apply in the smoke control area). The current maximum level of fine is £1,000 for each offence.
Authorised fuels are fuels which are authorised by Statutory Instruments (Regulations) made under the Clean Air Act 1993 or Clean Air (Northern Ireland) Order 1981. These include inherently smokeless fuels such as gas, electricity and anthracite together with specified brands of manufactured solid smokeless fuels. These fuels have passed tests to confirm that they are capable of burning in an open fireplace without producing smoke.
How Do I Choose A Woodburner?
With the continuously rising heating bills and the threatening climate change, a growing number of UK home owners are turning to alternative energy sources to cut their energy bills and carbon footprint. But since new technologies that utilise solar and thermal energy are unaffordable for most of the population, the majority of home owners decide for wood burning stoves. These are both eco-friendly and cost efficient but only if they are chosen carefully. In order to heat your home to the desired temperature during the winter, keep the costs of heating as low as possible and reduce the smoke to the minimum, we advise you to choose a wood burning stove according to the following factors:
Size (energy output). In order to heat your home properly and benefit financially from a wood burning stove, it is of utmost importance to choose the correct size or energy output. The surest way to get just the right amount of heat is to choose the size of the stove according to the size of the room which, however, does not necessarily mean that you need the biggest stove if you have a big space. It is highly important to be aware that all wood burning stoves give optimal energy output if loaded maximally. By reducing fuel load or the temperature in the fire-chamber, the stove may not reach its optimal heat output. Too small stove, on the other hand, may not provide enough heat during the coldest winter months. And by loading it beyond its capacity, you may cause permanent damage to the stove and reduce its lifespan. Besides considering the size of the room, you are also recommended to consider factors such as insulation and large window areas because you will need a stove with a higher energy output if you live in a poorly insulated house for instance.
Efficiency. There are many wood burning stoves to choose from but not all deliver what they promise. Besides failing to output the promised amount of heat, many also need large amounts of wood to produce a satisfactory warmth. You are therefore highly recommended to invest in an efficient stove. You will save money in the long term on wood fuel and feel just as warm as with a constantly “hungry” stove. In addition, an efficient wood burning stove produces a lot less smoke which is highly important if you live in Smoke Control Area. It is important to keep in mind, however, that the type of wood fuel you use matters as well when it comes to both efficiency of the stove and the amount of smoke it produces.
Aesthetics. Unlike central heating boilers which are usually installed in the basement or somewhere else out of sight, wood burning stoves are typically installed in living rooms. And their aesthetic appeal therefore matters a lot. But with so many designs and styles to choose from, finding a stove that will keep you pleasantly warm during the winter, help you reduce those heating bills and complement the overall beauty of your home should not be a problem.
What Is A Firewood Moisture Meter?
A moisture meter is perhaps the most important stove tool for helping you to ensure that you get the most out of your stove. Your firewood moisture meter can help you make sure that you are getting well seasoned wood. Please don’t get me wrong – there are many suppliers out there who know their business and when they say that their firewood is well seasoned then it is. You may well find that these suppliers are booked solid so try to get your orders in with them over the summer. Your moisture meter will help to confirm that their wood is indeed well seasoned and let you gauge exactly how well seasoned it is.
What Is The Best Wood For Burning?
Wood needs to be well seasoned before it is burnt in a stove, irrespective if you have a woodburning stove, (Woodburner), or a Multifuel Stove. Different woods take varying amounts of time to season but, as a general guide, before being used in a stove, wood should be cut to length, split and then stacked under cover (with the sides open to the air) for at least a year. It is then good practice to have it in the log basket, inside the house, for a few days before it is actually used in the woodburner.
If you have your wood delivered ‘ready to burn’, stress to your supplier that the wood must be well seasoned, as it is being burnt in a stove and, as a way of checking, most woods tend to get splits across the grain on the ends of the log when it is dry. You can use a firewood moisture meter to test how dry your firewood is.
Conifer wood tends to be rather resinous and is best used as kindling. Nothing, however, beats old skip wood / builders timber as kindling (remember not to burn treated or painted timber though).
If you do a fair bit of slow woodburning, it is good practice to burn a good, hot stove a couple of times a week to keep your chimney dry and prevent the build up of tar. It is important to use your woodburner regularly for to get the best results from your stove.
Do NOT be tempted to burn unseasoned wood in your woodburner.
What Is A HETAS Certificate of Compliance?
Customers using a HETAS Registered Installer will be given a HETAS Certificate of Compliance by the installer on the completion of installation work. This is of vital importance in demonstrating that the installation was carried out by a competent installer working for a HETAS registered business and complies with the relevant Building Regulations. The information on the certificate is used to record your installation, and in England & Wales it is used to notify your Local Authority Building Control Department (LABC) of the work that was undertaken. This ‘self certification’ by competent registered installers takes the place of a Local Authority Building Notice which could cost you a significant amount of money (sometimes up to £300). The HETAS installer is charged a small fee by HETAS for this service, but much less than the charges incurred if you seek a Building Notice via the Local Authority. The information is required to validate household insurance and will be required by Solicitors in any home selling process. Failure to notify the Local Authority (the process differs in Scotland), can be an offence resulting in enforcement action being taken against the Householders and/or the installer, this could cost anything up to £5000.
The Certificate of Compliance must be completed and signed only by the HETAS Registered Installer who undertook the work. The white copy of the fully completed and signed Certificate must be returned to HETAS Ltd at the address shown at the bottom of the Certificate within 7 days of the completion date of the works. HETAS will then process the information provided on the Certificate for submission to the relevant Local Authority within 30 days of the completion of the works as required by the Building Regulations (a legal requirement).
If the HETAS Ltd Certificate of Compliance is not provided, is not completed correctly or the Certificate is returned late then there will be no notification of the work to the Local Authority by HETAS. This would in fact mean that the law has not been complied with and can cause difficulties when selling a property and potentailly void a household insurance policy.
What Are The Dangers of Carbon Monoxide?
Carbon Monoxide (CO) is a highly poisonous gas produced by burning carbon based fuels such as gas, coal, oil and wood. It has no taste, colour or odour and victims of Carbon Monoxide poisoning are generally unaware that they are being poisoned until they become very ill and are subsequently diagnosed with it – if they are lucky.
With every solid fuel installation, we are also required by law to install a Carbon Monoxide alarm in the same room as the appliance – a) On the ceiling at least 300mm from any wall or, if it is located on a wall, as high up as possible (above any doors and windows) but not within 150mm of the ceiling; and b) between 1m and 3m horizontally of the appliance.