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Wood burning stoves in the news 2019: the truth

January 2019

Hi all,

In 2022 all wood burning stoves sold in Europe must be from a new generation of extremely clean-burning Ecodesign models. Particles (the pollution) will be reduced to a bare minimum and of a much smaller size and volume. Good news you might think and, for the stove industry working hard on these new models, there was excitement in the air.

But during the winter of 2018/19 the British Media got a hold of this, and added its own spin. Hence:

"Wood burning stoves to be banned" and a whole flurry of articles that also included buses, lorries, cars and even farting cows.

But wood burning stoves to be banned? Well, technically some will be. And so they should. Technology moves on and if it exists and we can make the world a better place then so we should. Models not passing the strict new regulations will not be able to be sold.

Let's not forget that almost everything causes some weight to be added to the "negative" side of the scale when it comes to the environment. Solar panels? Wind turbines? All need manufacturing and servicing and all have a carbon footprint. Car, rather than bicycle? Tyres need changing at some time. Not to mention plastics, airports and so on.

Coal and gas are not renewable resources. Electricity is not when it comes from a coal-powered power plant.

But wood is a renewable resource. A tree absorbs carbon when it is growing and emits it when burned or rots on the ground. Carbon neutral.

Back to those pesky "particulates". Six years ago, Igunn Riddervold of the Department of Public Health in Denmark conducted a study - exposing 20 volunteers with asthma, to concentrates of wood smoke 10 times higher than generated by a wood stove. The results? As reported by Dr James Le Fanu (Daily Telegraph 4 Feb 2019):

"No significant measurable effects were observed," apparently,  "in concordance with the findings of similar studies."

As Dr James says: "Throw another log on the fire".


Putting things into perspective (Harry Wallop Daily Telegraph Feb 2016:

Travelling by tube: I travelled six stops on the Victoria line and at no stage did the monitor fall below 125ug/m³
Woodburner (not EcoDesign Model): After an hour of mine burning brightly, the dial settled between 41ug/m³ and 43ug/m³ in my sitting room. 

A lot of what is in the media really is fake news. The government are not striving to ban stoves that use renewable resources (wood burning stoves) and have never said anything even remotely close. As usual the media "enjoy the story" and create headlines that shock.

The stove above is the Woodford 5 Widescreen: a next-generation SIA Ecodesign Approved 5kW model. EcoDesign arrives in 2022 and is promoted by the government as the next generation of clean wood stoves.

As 2022 approaches more and more press releases shall be released by the government (and presumably more rubbish from the media will be spouted).

Take a look at this next image. This is how hard the stove industry has worked to make wood burning stoves as clean burning as possible.

The government, very reasonably, want to reduce the following:

1. Old, inefficient open-fireplaces and old, inefficient wood-burning stoves.
2. The selling of damp wood.

They want customers to purchase the latest DEFRA (strict on emissions) and Ecodesign-Ready (even more stringent on emissions) stoves and want users to burn dry wood only.

Look out for these icons:


Whatever you purchase the government will not backdate rules. They are only interested in making sure the better stoves are the ones sold in the future. 

I spoke to Ben Webster, Environment Editor, The Times at length regarding Ecodesign (he quotes me in this article). I feel the title is emotive. The 100,000 he mentions as "dirty" "have not been tested" under the new Ecodesign scheme so how could one designate them as "dirty"? Also, what is the definition of dirty in this context? A whole range of excellent recently-designed models of stoves went through the tests last year, and all passed first time with no design changes. Were they dirty before they went through the tests and cleansed afterwards? Before the tests nobody would have known their level on the dirty scale. "Dirty" or "Clean" is not a definitive line. Passed or not passed is a definitive line but there might be one per cent difference in emissions between the two. "Thousands might still be buying dirty wood burners" I would say is more accurate.

Also - when discussing awareness of Ecodesign stoves with Ben my comment was in response to the past, in particularly 2017 and the first half of 2018. I did say that this awareness was changing fast and consumers have been much more aware this last winter.

40% of the stoves we sold last year were Ecodesign models and I expect that to be at least 70% in 2019.

Julian Patrick


Kind regards,

Julian Patrick

Managing Director, Stovefitter's

01492 535 852