Maximise Wood Burning Stove Efficiency
As energy costs spiral we all need to do what we can to reduce our energy usage. Here are a few ways in which you can maximise the already green credentials of your wood burning stove.
* Insulate and draughtproof your home. Insulation, double glazing and door seals all reduce energy needs and decrease the amount of wood required to heat a house.
* Choose the correct size of stove. A stove that is too large for the space to be heated will have to be damped down too low. A slow burning, smouldering fire causes much more air pollution than a hot burning fire and is less efficient.
* Burn seasoned wood. This will increase the efficiency of the combustion process and will help you get more heat and less smoke. (Green wood contains up to 50% water.) If possible, have your firewood delivered at least a year ahead of when you need it so that the green wood can dry out or "season" before being used. Better yet, have it delivered two years ahead of when you need it to ensure its seasoned fully.
* Burn small, hot fires. These decrease the amount of creosote produced and create less pollution. Even though small, hot fires require more frequent loading and tending of the stove, and the improved efficiency and decreased air pollution are worth the effort. When you load your stove, be sure the flue dampers are open so that smoke doesn't get back into your house. Open the firebox door slowly to allow the fire to adjust to the increased air flow.
* Install a stove pipe thermometer. Frequent observation of pipe temperatures and adjustment of air flow to the fire will promote better combustion and result in fewer emissions. The most efficient and least polluting temperature range for a wood stove results in stove pipe temperatures of 300 to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. (Please check your stove installation manual as more stoves now require a stove body thermometer as the temperature in the flue is greatly reduced to that of the stove in newer efficient stoves)
* Remove excess ashes. Ashes can clog a stove's air intake vents and decrease the amount of oxygen and turbulence required for cleaner more efficient wood burning.
* Clean the stove pipe and chimney. Cleaning the stove pipe and chimney promotes a good, consistent draft for your stove and reduces the risk of a chimney fire. Do this a minimum of once a year or whenever the creosote builds up to 1/4 inch in thickness. For your warranty, and for your house insurance, this should be done by an approved chimney sweep.
* NEVER burn pressure treated wood, creosote treated timbers, plastic or garbage in your wood stove. When burned, these materials release toxic compounds and heavy metals that can threaten your health and the health of those downwind of you. Burning painted wood can also emit such pollutants to the air. Its unregulated heat will also likely damage your stove and is one of the most common causes of chimney fires.