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Office for Environmental Protection Annual Progress Report – SIA Statement

Stove Industry Association

The Stove Industry Association (SIA) has welcomed the publication of the Office for Environmental Protection Annual Progress Report and its scrutiny of the government’s progress towards legally binding environmental targets.

The report notes that “outdoor air quality in the UK has improved significantly over the past 50 years” which is greatly encouraging and has been brought about by a range of measures including sector regulation and technological advances.

However, the SIA also recognises the report’s findings that emissions from domestic combustion have increased over the last decade.

The technological advances in sustainable solid fuel stoves have been significant over the last decade so we must now look at progressing the replacement of open fires and older stove technology with modern, Ecodesign compliant stove models.

Environmental impact of emissions

These new stoves, which made up 100% of new appliance sales in 2023, represent a real opportunity for a significant reduction in PM emissions from domestic combustion, emitting up to 90% less PM than an open fire. In 2021, modern Ecodesign compliant stoves burning dry wood fuel accounted for less than 0.1% of total UK PM2.5 emissions; that’s 12 times less than cigarette smoking which, in 2021, created 0.92 kilo tonnes of PM2.5 emissions, and 18 times less than bonfire night which, in one single night of the year accounted for 1.5% of total UK PM2.5 emissions. (Source: NAEI)

Choosing to burn dry wood on a modern appliance also helps to significantly reduce carbon emissions, particularly when you correspondingly reduce or don’t use oil, gas or electricity for heating. Wood logs have the lowest carbon emissions factor of any domestic heating fuel at 0.01kg CO2e per kWh, 1/20th that of natural gas or electricity. (Source: gov.uk Greenhouse gas reporting: conversion figures 2023)

However, choosing the right appliance is only part of the picture. As the Report itself notes

“…technological approaches to tackle air pollution will not be sufficient by themselves. Education and communication are crucial to bring about required changed in behaviour. This could include, for example, promoting clean burning practices…”

Andy Hill, chair of the Stove Industry Association, commented: “The SIA and its members remain committed to raising awareness of the importance of responsible stove ownership and burning best practice, with information delivered via its website and social media channels.

This is alongside the significant technological advances in stove manufacture in line with the Ecodesign Regulation and beyond. These advances continue, with the ultimate ambition being zero emission stoves.”

SIA Top Tips For Environmental Protection:

  • Choose an Ecodesign compliant sustainable solid fuel stove such as a clearSkies certified appliance. If you currently use an open fire or an older, very basic stove, consider upgrading. A modern Ecodesign compliant sustainable solid fuel stove releases up to 90% less emissions than an open fire and can be up to 80% less than some older stoves. Your local SIA Retail Group member can help advise on the best stove for you and your family.
  • Replacing an open fire with a modern stove will also reduce the fuel needed by two thirds to release the same amount of heat.
  • If you live in a Smoke Control Area, your stove will also need to be Defra exempt. All clearSkies Level 3 and above models are certified as Defra exempt.
  • Visit your local stove retailer for guidance on choosing the right size stove for your property and for a detailed installation quote. You can find your nearest SIA Retail Group member showroom here.
  • Ensure your stove is fitted by an appropriately qualified competent person such as one who is HETAS or OFTEC registered.
  • Ensure you use quality fuel. Look for the Ready to Burn logo to ensure your wood logs are at or below 20% moisture content. Never used chemically treated wood or burn waste on your stove.
  • Ensure your stove is serviced and your chimney swept at least once a year – the SIA recommends NVQ qualified sweeps for the ongoing maintenance and servicing of your stove and chimney. The Federation of British Chimney Sweeps has links to all the main sweep associations. Chimney sweeps are a valuable source of information for good practice and advice.

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