For many, the principal reason to install a wood burning cook stove is quite simply the unique look and feel of a real fire, without any of the usual effort, smell, mess or danger. Installing a wood burner is for a great many people first and foremost a lifestyle choice; it pushe
s all the right buttons and stirs up emotions associated with our basic human desire to feel warm and safe.
It also goes without saying that what looks good and feels good typically sells well too; there is quite a bit of anecdotal evidence from estate agents and homeowners that having a wood burning stove installed will help a house sell that much more easily. Note however that a wood burner is unlikely to make your house actually worth much more on the property market, but it can go some way to help you get a sale at your asking price that bit more quickly.
Recently there has been a rise in the number of people installing wood burning stoves and boilers because wood burners are not only highly efficient but much cheaper to run than regular gas, oil or electric heating systems; over three times cheaper in many cases, and even better in some situations. But consider the pros and cons carefully because wood burners are not the answer for all people, for a variety of reasons.
We are, of necessity, becoming more environmentally aware these days; if you tend a garden you will already have noticed changes in the climate and every energy utility bill is a reminder that how things have been up till now is not sustainable for the future. But unlike burning fossil fuel such as oil, gas or coal, burning wood forms part of a pretty much balanced carbon cycle.
The crucial difference between fossil fuels and wood biofuel from trees is that trees are living organisms – they absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and using sunlight convert it to cellulose fibres (i.e. wood). When managed as a renewable resource, trees planted to replace those used as bio fuel in wood burning stoves will over their own lifespan absorb exactly the same amount of carbon dioxide as is released by the burning process. This is potentially an endlessly renewable and sustainable cycle that emits negligible excess CO2 into the atmosphere. Fossil fuels by contrast are not remotely renewable or sustainable and represent a one way street where CO2 emissions are concerned.
Forget tree-hugging sentimentality and hand-knitted eco-credentials; there are compelling economic reasons to go green these days (as well as very sound environmental reasons too of course). Conventional fossil fuel is on the down slope as regards supply which can only increase the price over time. Additionally, ever tougher legislation and regulations means that installing a mix of renewable energy sources starts to make eminent financial sense. For new buildings the regulations are becoming so tight that many architects and builders automatically elect to install wood burning stoves and boilers simply because make it then becomes so much easier to comply with new building regulations on carbon footprints.
Numerous cutting edge wood burning systems really can do it all, with abilities for cooking, entire house space warming, boiling point water, and warmth stockpiling. These vary from wood burning stoves that have that traditional kitchen range look and a back boiler supplying hot water to radiators and the main hot water cylinder, to sleek, stylish, modern designs that also serve as a central feature in the main living space. Combine a wood burner system with solar thermal heating a much more sustainable future beckons – financially for you and environmentally for the planet.
When it comes right down to it, wood burning stoves have to rank among the most basic and ancient of human technologies, which probably accounts for the deep rooted affinity most people have for them.