New rules for stoves and fuels

Wood burning stove in the home

Nothing compares to the warm and cosy ambiance provided by a stove in the home. It should be noted that there are currently no plans to ban stoves. However, the government’s Clean Air Strategy came into effect on 1st January 2022 and affects the sale of certain types of fuels and stoves.

Concerns over the pollutants produced by the use of stoves have led to new rules being introduced across Europe and the UK. All new stoves must be environmentally-friendly and energy efficient, and have been independently tested to meet the new standard.

To be compliant, a new stove must be of an approved Ecodesign Ready Stove. Ecodesign is a quality assurance standard by the Stove Industry Alliance (SIA) and Ecodesign stoves must adhere to strict criteria regarding emissions and efficiency.

Appliances that burn fuel, such as wood-burning stoves, gas cookers and gas boilers emit harmful substances including particulate matter, organic gaseous compounds, carbon monoxide and nitrogen oxides.

Ecodesign looks at the environmental aspects of the production process, by balancing ecological and economic requirements. It strives to make products with the lowest possible environmental impact throughout its life cycle. It means you can now only buy more efficient log burning stoves, and anyone buying a new stove must now ensure that it is complaint with the new regulations.

So, is domestic stove use really such an issue?

When fuels such as wet wood and house coal are burnt, the air pollution emitted can include small, harmful particles of air pollution called ‘fine particulate matter’ (PM2.5). These particulates can enter the body’s lungs and blood, causing health problems.

According to SIA, a new research report has found that:

“the previously accepted contribution of indoor domestic burning to the UK’s PM2.5 emissions has been dramatically overestimated, with almost half the emissions coming from outdoor burning. Among the key findings of The Contribution of Outdoor Burning to UK PM Emissions by Dr Josh Cottam and Dr Edward Mitchell is the following:

  • 46% (21,951 tonnes) of PM2.5 originate from outdoor burning.
  • Significant quantities of fuel were found to be burnt outdoors, many sources of which are unregulated and highly polluting, such as bonfires.
  • The largest single contributor to domestic outdoor burning emissions is green waste. This accounts for 90% of all outdoor burning emissions when combined with waste wood and rubbish.
  • The estimate for indoor wood fuel use is significantly lower than the estimate used in the NAEI.
  • Modern Ecodesign stoves contribute just 2.7% of PM2.5 emissions from the burning of wood logs.”

The overestimate of pollution caused by wood burners has been confirmed by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. Last year, the government said domestic wood burners created 38% of find particulate matter emissions; the figure has now been revised down to 17%.

The new standard will improve the efficiency of log burners across the UK, improve air quality and thereby be better for the environment, as well as the health of home owners.

At the moment, you don’t need to upgrade your old stove, but you might want to update it to a new one, especially if it is over 10 years old.