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Tackling false information spread by London Wood Burning Project

Whilst the industry is doing a huge amount to reduce particulate emissions and working closely with Defra, it is always frustrating when you see negative campaigns that spread misinformation, such as the current London Wood Burning Project.

Covering most of the London Boroughs, the campaign is funded by the Defra Air Quality Grant Scheme. The Campaign message being “Domestic wood burning, linked to increased risk of asthma and lung cancer – Wood burners. Careless, not cosy”.

The Stove Industry Association (SIA) has been doing a lot of work to tackle the misinformation being circulated by the London Wood Burning Project. They are also aware of another range of very negative posts and adverts from another anti-burning project, Clean Air Hub which is part of the organisation’s Global Action Plan.

Other SIA Members have published Blogs on the misinformation being circulated by the London Wood Burning Project to help set the record straight, you can read the arguments here: Certainly Wood, Charnwood and Charlton & Jenrick

Like Certainly Wood, Charnwood and Charlton & Jenrick are frustrated by the negative narrative unfairly manufactured around the wood-burning stove industry, “repeatedly use misleading claims and stats to scare the public” and keen to set the record straight. The issue is becoming an election debate with more misinformation headlining the Liberal Democrats debate 

The wood-burning stove community’s voice in this debate isn’t just about defending an industry; it’s about ensuring a fair and balanced path towards a cleaner and more energy-secure future. Targeting outdated appliances, promoting responsible practices, and encouraging sustainable forestry practices yielding far greater results for all. 

The SIA are emphatic that “A modern sustainable solid fuel stove used correctly is actually a very low emission, highly efficient, low carbon, and cost-effective way to heat the main living space in your home and provide radiated warmth throughout the rest of your property.” 

A recent article in the Telegraph tells us that despite the misinformation being circulated the rise in household energy bills that are staying stubbornly high while temperatures drop, the once-humble log burner has been flying off the shelves. More than a quarter of a million units were installed in British homes in the year to July 2023, as homeowners look for cheaper (and more rustic) alternatives to traditional heating systems. 

Andy Hill, chair of the Stove Industry Association (SIA), said burners have seen a “massive” rise in popularity, fuelled first by Covid and then the war in Ukraine. 

“Lots of people were spending their money on home improvements during the pandemic, and then the energy crisis made people look for ways to save money on their bills,” he explained. A supply of wood or other sustainable solid fuel means your heating is “bought and paid for” and households can gauge exactly how much fuel they are using to stay warm.

“People are also wanting grid-independence. They’re worried that, if the grid goes down, can they heat their homes?”

A modern sustainable solid fuel stove can also be beneficial for older properties as they are highly effective at providing space heating and reducing condensation, helping to alleviate mould and damp. A real fire can help promote feelings of warmth and security and provides a focal point for the whole family, in turn benefitting mental wellbeing.

Scaremongering tactics about “domestic combustion” as a whole are unhelpful. Modern Eco-design compliant stoves burning dry wood make up a tiny fraction of UK particulate matter emissions – less than 0.1%.

There are a whole host of human activities that generate PM emissions, and the UK stove industry is committed to ensuring that its appliances are as clean and efficient as possible. Using dry wood fuel is both sustainable and renewable; wood logs have the lowest carbon emissions factor of any domestic heating fuel at 0.01 kg CO2e per kWh. That’s 1/20th of the carbon emissions of natural gas or electricity and 1/29th that of oil.

There is a world of difference between an open fire and a modern stove designed for precision combustion and maximum efficiency. Switching from an open fire to a modern stove will reduce PM emissions by up to 90%. Burning dry wood (e.g. Ready to Burn certified) in an Eco-design compliant stove (e.g. clear skies certified) makes up just 0.09% of total UK PM2.5 emissions.

Take care when choosing your appliance and your fuel to ensure that you minimise emissions and maximise efficiency. Locally sourced wood fuel helps support small businesses and reduces the carbon footprint of fuel transport. It is a key component of the woodland management cycle and the economies attached to it. It also plays a key role in maintaining woodland diversity, health, and resilience. Unmanaged woodland is bad for wildlife. At present 42% of UK woodland is unmanaged.

At SFL, as part of the Sphering Group we are passionate about building on our 50 years of experience leading developments in the industry and producing the most efficient flues and chimneys for the most efficient stoves on the market. We too understand why people want to reduce PM2.5. As a committed company determined to play an active role towards the environment and society, Sphering, the Group has its own R&D centre: WeLab®. This facility has allowed the group to comply with the newest European standards (including the NZEB: nearly zero energy building) in terms of security and performance of appliances, but also to adopt a responsible innovation approach.

Want more information? Find out what the Stove Industry Alliance are saying over at: https://stoveindustryalliance.com/the-real-facts-about-wood-burning-stoves/

Images courtesy of Adobe Stock.

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