The main things to consider when buying a stove are what you want it to do and where you want to use it. These basic questions will influence the fuel type and design of stove that is most suitable. There are a bewildering number of stoves out there and getting some good, honest advice at the outset will help you narrow down your choice.
There’s no substitute for a chat in person, and our friendly and knowledgeable team are always happy to talk about your options. However, we have put some information together to get you started and help you get to grips with your new stove purchase.
So, let’s look at the questions you should be asking…
What role will my stove have to perform?
Stoves come in all shapes and sizes, and the right one for you will depend on what you need it to do. Typical roles for stoves include:
- Providing a warm, comforting focal-point to your living space. It’s primeval – fire = warmth and safety. There is something captivating or even magical about a real fire. No-one ever came in from the cold and rubbed their hands together in front of a radiator!
- Heating a specific room or area independent to your central heating system. This often goes hand in hand with the above. There are times, in Autumn and Spring for example, when you don’t want to heat the whole house, but do need some warmth in an area where you will be sitting for the evening. Measure the space you want to heat – as a guide your stove will need to provide 1kW of heat for every 14 m3 of space, to achieve a comfortable 21 degrees.
- Heating your whole house and supplying your hot water requirements. The stove becomes the heart of the house – providing heating, hot water, cooking (and often boot warming, sock drying and pet sleeping areas!) The Rayburn / Aga is synonymous with the kitchen ‘range’, although other manufacturers make great alternatives.
- Heating / cooking in unusual spaces. This could be a boat, garden, yurt or even tent. All have their own individual requirements and need a stove that is designed specifically for the role intended.
What style stove do I want?
What you need your stove to do goes hand-in-hand with how you want it to look. Whether you live in a ‘chocolate box’ cottage or a modern loft apartment, there is a stove design that will fit in perfectly, And it’s not just about the size and shape – stoves are available in a variety of finishes and colours – from a traditional, cast iron wood burner to a contemporary brushed stainless steel stove (or even a duck egg blue Rayburn). And most stove designs are available in a variety of fuel type variants.
What fuel would I prefer?
There’s a variety of different fuel types available for use in stoves, ranging from wood to gas, oil to electric. We have a dedicated article on which fuel type to choose.
How environmentally friendly is my stove?
The environmental impact of your new stove can be divided into three categories – sustainability, energy efficiency and emissions.
At Harworth Heating we take our environmental responsibilities seriously and wholeheartedly recommend the burning of renewable fuels. Traditional fossil fuels are notoriously poor in terms of carbon emissions and, by definition, are not sustainable.
Wood on the other hand is one of the few truly renewable resources, particularly when derived from plantations and cultivated woodland. Sourcing wood locally not only reduces carbon footprint, but also brings economic benefits to the local community. Burning wood produces some of the lowest CO2 emissions and can even be considered carbon neutral – the CO2 produced by burning wood is offset by the amount of CO2 absorbed by a tree during its lifespan. Wood briquettes and wood pellets made from industry waste and reclaimed timber are a great alternative to conventional logs and can often out-perform them in terms of heat produced and burn times.
When buying a new stove it is important to consider how energy efficient it is. The better stoves on the market have efficiency ratings of 70%, the best in excess of 80%. These figures represent how much usable heat is delivered during the combustion process. Stoves are much more efficient than open fires, and in common with most industries, advances in technology produce continual improvements.
The other consideration is fuel costs. And unfortunately it’s not as simple as price per kilo. Some fuels may initially appear more expensive, however may burn longer and produce more heat per kilo. For expert advice get in touch and we’ll talk you through your options.
As previously mentioned, the Clean Air Acts of 1956 and 1968 introduced Smoke Control Areas in order to combat the growing issue of pollution caused by domestic and industrial emissions. These areas are predominantly centred around large towns and cities and local authorities will only allow heating appliances that demonstrate particularly clean combustion, or insist on the use of authorised smokeless fuels. To find out if you live in Smoke Control Area and for a list of authorised fuels visit the DEFRA website.
Over and above that, we have always been passionate about reducing emissions caused by heating or cooking using solid fuel stoves. Our MD, Terry Hibbard grew up in Sheffield in the 1950s (prior to the Clean Air Acts), a time when smoke from households and the resident steel industry often made it impossible to see across the city. As a result, Terry has always focussed on reducing smoke as a nuisance and is in the process of writing a guide to help boaters run their stoves better and reduce smoke on the canals.
To be honest, whether you live in a Smoke Control Area or not, we would recommend buying a stove with the best emissions performance you can. Reduced emissions and energy efficiency often go hand-in-hand, and will ensure that your new stove is as clean and economical to run as possible.
How much work am I prepared to do?
This question is often overlooked but should be considered. There’s no getting away from it – real fires require effort. Some people love the process of laying a fire. It appeals to their inner ‘caveman’ and there is certainly something very therapeutic and satisfying about it. For others, the theatrics of a real fire are secondary; they just want the warmth and effect without the effort. There is no right or wrong here. ‘Old school’ wood burner, real gas fire at the touch of a button, or even a ‘plug and glow’ electric stove, there’s something for everyone.
These questions should help you start to consider what sort of stove you want. But as we previously mentioned – there is no substitute for good, old-fashioned honest advice. Why not contact a member of our team and we will talk you through your options and find the stove that is perfect for you.