September was hot, and October is set to be quite warm – for the first part of the month at least. But the colder weather will eventually arrive, at which point central heating and stoves around the UK will leap into action. But like with last year, there will be many who will struggle with the cost that comes with heating a home. While using a stove can be a great way to save money and heat your home in an environmentally friendly way wood still costs money.
The energy crisis, which has been in force pretty much since early 2022, has significantly changed the wood-burning stove market in the UK. Despite the all too common misinformation in the media, which fails to differentiate between open fires and high-efficiency wood-burning stoves, sales continue to increase as people start seeing the significant benefits of wood. In 2022, the SIA (Stove Industry Alliance) reported an increase in sales of wood-burning stoves of over 40% among its members. Fast forward a year, and this figure today is around 19% up. Not as good as last year but still proof more people are opting to burn wood.
With the cost of heating our homes accounting for the biggest chunk of home energy bills in winter, it’s no surprise people are looking for alternatives to supplement their gas or electric heating. Couple that with growing awareness of how stretched the grid is and, like last year, the increased possibility of more power cuts this winter, the option to use a highly efficient, low carbon wood-burning stove to heat your main living space makes good sense.
As demand for wood-burning stoves increased, not just in the UK but globally, there quickly became a potential shortage of firewood just after the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February 2022. Things are not much better today with some supply shortfalls still evident. However, even with the increase in firewood prices and supply issues, logs are still the cheapest form of domestic heating, costing households 73.5% less per kWh than electric heating and some 19% less than gas heating.
So it’s fair to say using logs can be a cheap alternative, costing homeowners 10.37p per kWh, which is 19% cheaper than gas, which stands at 12.81p per kWh and a huge 73.5% decrease in cost compared to electricity, which currently stands at 39.21p per kWh.
Helping your central heating
As logs are a cheaper energy source, a stove can certainly supplement your central heating. According to the Energy Saving Trust, you can save £80 a year for every 1 degree reduction in thermostat temperature. If you drop your heating from 21 degrees to 15 degrees that’s almost a £500 cost saving a year – but we don’t expect you to freeze. With the low cost of burning wood, you could turn your thermostat right down to 15 degrees and use a wood-burning stove to help maintain a comfortable room temperature. The rest of the house you’re not in will still have some degree of warmth, perhaps not enough to relax in during the evening, but warm enough when you go up to bed.
Can you grow your own firewood?
It’s certainly not realistic for all, but there are people who can and do grow their own firewood. Using the Coppice Rotation Method means you can actually produce a good amount of wood in a short period of time. Coppicing is a method of managing woodlands that focuses on the capacity of many species of trees to put out new shoots from their stump or roots when they are cut down.
In a coppiced wood, young tree stems are repeatedly cut down to almost ground level, leaving a stump. After a few years, new growth shows, making harvesting possible again. Pollarding is a similar process carried out at a higher level on the tree.
You don’t need acres of woodland, as you would imagine. As little as 10 x 15m space (half the size of an allotment) would provide around one tonne of firewood every five years. This means a very healthy supply of firewood each year, around 200kg, which is more than enough for most households over the winter months. This is a sustainable, environmentally friendly and free way to keep warm!