Open Fires and Secondary Heating Options

Electric heating

We do not recommend electric radiant or resistance heating as it is expensive to run and produces nearly twice as much carbon dioxide as oil heating.

Electricity used during the day is likely to be costing about 12p – 14p per kWh. For the same amount of heat, mains gas would cost about 4p, oil 6-7p and LPG would cost about 8p.

Other forms of heating should therefore be used where possible.

Bottled gas (Butane) heaters

Bottled gas (Butane) is an expensive form of heat – this will typically cost about 12 – 15p per kWh of heat, similar to the price of peak rate electricity. In addition, bottle gas heaters produce a lot of condensation and damp. Alternative forms of heat should be used if at all possible.

Open fires

Open fires generally waste up to 75% of their heat up the chimney. If they are not in use they should be blocked up (see section on Draught Proofing). If they are being used they are an expensive and inefficient source of heat.

We recommend that you install an alternative to your present secondary heating. This however is not fundable through the Green Deal or ECO.  Wood stoves can however be funded by PZIL for clients in Powys.

Replacing your open fire with a more efficient renewable alternative could save up to 60% of your current fuel for an open fire.


More Efficient Secondary Heating Options:-

Rely on your Central Heating

It would cost less to use radiators or other heat emitters connected to your central heating system than to use open fires. If the room with an open fire has a radiator in, the radiator should be used instead of the open fire and the chimney can then be sealed. If not, you could ask a local plumber to quote to add a radiator in this room as this would be a cost-effective investment (less than the cost of a stove, for example).

If you haven’t already got central heating, although this is a more expensive option, it would enable you to keep your house warmer and drier.  If you are planning to install central heating it is worth considering a biomass boiler, perhaps combined with solar thermal panels to heat hot water in summer.

Air source heat pumps (ASHPs) extract energy from outside air (even when air temperatures are as low as -20°C), and concentrate it to pump heat around the home. Large ASHPs can run a whole central heating system, including hot water,  whilst smaller ones can provide heating for just one room, they  perform better in more temperate conditions (i.e. not too cold). If you plan to buy an ASHP, choose a model with an inverter (these are quieter and more efficient), and do not be tempted to use them for air conditioning as doing so would increase your energy consumption. See

Please Note: If the electricity for heat pumps derives from fossil fuels you could actually increase your carbon emissions. For further details please contact our Energy Officers or see

Wood Burning Stove

Closed stoves are generally significantly more efficient than open fires, providing more heat at lower cost and minimising the draughts which open chimneys can cause.

There are several kinds of wood burning stove. The best models are between 80% and 90% efficient, meaning they lose only 10%-20% of their heat through the flue. As well as these kinds of stove you may need a new hearth, blocking plate and chimney liner. Installers of solid fuel appliances must be approved by HETAS (see or an equivalent ‘competent persons’ scheme.

For local suppliers contact the following:-

Michael Oliver (Clun)  01588-640910

Derwas (Welshpool) 01938   552246

‘Bunners’ in Montgomery (tel: 01686-668308),

Continental Fires in Church Stretton (

Clearview Stoves of Ludlow (

They may be able to recommend installers but you should ensure the installers are HETAS-approved.

If you need a smaller unit which fits into the existing fireplace, then a ‘second-best’ option is an inset or built-in stove. These are less efficient and lose more heat (typical 30-40% losses), but will still be more efficient than an open fire. One example is the Esse 300. See for example:- See also Stovax at or in Church Stretton.