Will a wood burning stove save me money?
Posted by Helena Ripley on 25 August 2015 at 12:30 pm
Most people don’t get a wood burning stove for the cost benefits. Although there might be some saving in terms of money and carbon emissions, stoves are mostly attractive because they are cosy and homely. The best way to save money with a stove is to source your fuel as cheaply as possible - you may find that a local tree surgeon can help you with this.
Making the most of your stove
Clever use of your stove could help you make significant savings on your central heating. Using the stove to heat the living room during the evening and then opening the doors to the rest of the house at night often provides enough heat to do without central heating in the autumn and spring. Using a stove in the winter will also help to decrease your central heating usage, especially if you use thermostatic radiator valves (TRVs) to heat other spaces selectively. The exact savings are difficult to calculate but reducing the use of your central heating (and replacing a fixed electric fire) can make a significant difference to your energy bill.
The price of fuel per kilowatt hour (kWh) indicates some of the potential savings. The cheapest type of commonly available bought wood (£50 for a ton of green wood) costs around 1.2p/ kWh (based on the calorific values of fuels from the Biomass Energy Centre). Kiln dried wood at a price of £150 for 300kg costs around 8.8p/ kWh. To put this in perspective, gas costs about 5p per kWh and average electricity costs are currently 15p per kWh. So if you are replacing a fixed gas or electric fire with a wood stove you might make some savings.
If you’re going to use kiln dried wood and have the chimney swept once a year you’re looking at spending less than £200 a year on the general running of your stove. As the average gas bill in the UK in 2014 was £752, being able to shift some of your spring and autumn heating to the stove could make a noticeable difference.
Estimates put forward by uSwitch and StoveMaestro about the extent of the savings you can expect to make by installing a wood burning stove range from £100 to £300 per year. The savings depend on the type of heating you currently use and the fuel you plan to burn. For more information about the different fuels available see the blog in this series on fuel.
Is it worth it?
The general consensus is that you will save a little money by installing a stove. Of course the savings that you make and the length of time it takes for the stove to pay for itself depends on the amount you spent on heating prior to getting the stove and the cost of installing and running the stove. Figures from uSwitch suggest a stove could have a payback time of about 15 years. If, on the other hand, you buy a second hand stove, install it yourself, and source free wood, a stove could pay for itself within just two to three years.
It is important to note that an efficient and safe stove will give you more long term savings than a cheap stove that does not burn wood well. Also there are potential risks with installing the stove yourself, so if you decide to go down that road make sure you fully understand what you are doing. All stove installations need a Building Compliance Certificate to show that they have been installed in compliance with Building Regulations.
A final note – the renewable heat incentive (RHI) is not available for stoves which are used as room heaters only so you will not be able to make an additional income through this.
If you are interested in visiting homes with wood burning stoves you might find one to visit during SuperHomes Open Day in September.
Photo credit: SuperHomes
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