Whether you’re the proud owner of a shiny new stove, or you’ve got one that’s been sitting in the front room for decades, there are a few things that you need to know to really get the most out of that metal box in the fireplace.
Don’t burn water
This is the most fundamental thing to get right when you’re burning wood. It might be surprising, but green wood is around 50 per cent water no matter what a high efficiency wooda stove of yours. That means that for every kg of green wood you add to the fire, you’re effectively adding around 500ml of water. This means that you will need to make sure that your fuel has been dried properly. There are a few ways of checking wood burning stove insert, but the simplest are:
• Find green wood and dry it yourself – probably the cheapest option, if you’ve got the space to dry your logs properly, but do bear in mind that it will take a while. As a minimum, you’ll need to make sure that you’ve given your logs at least one summer to dry properly .
• Find a good supplier.This is an audit of whether the logs really are as dry as the supplier claims, which gives you some peace of mind that you’re not being ripped off.
• Buy kiln dried logs or briquettes. There can be sustainability issues with this sort of material, as energy has been added to dry the fuel before it reaches you, though some suppliers use wood-fired kilns. This is usually the most expensive but simplest way of fuelling a stove.
Manage the air
As far as your stove is concerned, air comes in two flavours. Primary air feeds the bed of the fire, and secondary air feeds the flames above it. Nearly all the energy from wood comes from burning gases released when it is heated – which means that secondary air is much more important than primary. The golden rules are:
• Never completely close the secondary air vent. It’s the easiest way to create soot and tar and completely coat the glass on the front of your stove with gunk.
• Don’t leave the stove door open, unless you have been specifically instructed to by the manual when lighting the fire. Modern wood burning stove actually promote the efficiency of heating, but if you frequently open it, you are crippling your stove’s efficiency and allowing all the lovely warm air in the room to shoot off straight up the chimney.
• Remember you’re always looking for a hot, fast burn, as this will be the cleanest, most efficient way of running the stove. A small hot fire is much more efficient than a large slow-burning one.