Wood Stove Project
Lightfoot Energy Service piloted a project in Mid Wales to reduce carbon emissions and to try out new ways of working with householders to help them use their stoves as efficiently as possible. The project is all about providing advice and information so that you can make best use of your stove – using it more efficiently, best practice, firewood supply and storage, reducing use of fossil fuels such as coal – and, hopefully, therefore also saving you money.
The pilot project was supported by Environment Wales with funding from the Welsh Assembly Government which is focused on finding ways of living more sustainably. Woodfuel, especially firewood, is one of the cheapest forms of heating for the home and can be nearest we can get to sustainable energy. As long as woodlands are managed sustainably Woodfuel is a truly renewable source of energy and the fuel sourced locally.
The aim of the project was to raise awareness of best practice when using Woodfuel in a stove. The Project covered a range of issues and information and support. one hundred volunteers were recruited and participated in an online survey to obtain baseline dat on their issues and understanding of stove use. After this 22 people were visited to further assess their system, a range of advice was given on site and moisture testing of the fuel taken. Further advice and support was provided through weekly emails and a range of website resources on topics:
- Why use a wood burning stove?
- Help on choosing your stove and installing it
- Guidance on buying firewood and how to store it
- How to season wood correctly and its benefits
- How to use a moisture meter
- How to operate your stove to run it most efficiently for home heating
Our resource pages listed below also signposted links to local businesses and related sites:
- Where to buy a stove
- Stove Servicing and Chimneys
- Firewood suppliers
- Wood Store Suppliers
- Related Links – Publications, organisations, resources and courses (incl. Chainsaw)
A report of the pilot results is downloadable at Stage 2 Woodstoves Final Report which shows the findings and how the project influenced the 100 volunteers that took part. The project ran through the Winter 2012-13.
The pilot set out to address the behaviours that lead to people using coal or similar fossil fuels as an alternative to wood or other non-fossil fuels, and the perceptions that coal is a cheap option. Initial Scoping project – results can be downloaded here: Behaviour with wood stoves scoping report.
We have identified the behaviours and perceptions in a scoping exercise in Spring 2012 that lead to people burning fossil fuels on the stoves such as poor supply, storage issues and unable to keep the stove in for long periods e.g. overnight without it. We also know from the LEAF project that although it is helpful for people to keep the stoves in overnight as it provides a low background heat; there are real issues with the fact that this is when the stove is least efficient and gives off the most pollutants and emissions. We have also identified an impending issue arising from the increasing age and agility of stove owners. We know that many people use coal as an alternative when they run out of wood, are unwell or just not well-organised.
The LEAF project found that; although laboratory tests of efficiency of log stoves can produce results as high as 80%, evidence gathered from actual usage indicates that efficiencies in practice are much lower, typically between 25% and 50%. This is partly due to low quality wood being used (too wet and/or too large) and due the operating regime of the stove, i.e. burning slower and cooler than required for optimal efficiency.
Users expressed lack of confidence in purchasing fuel, because of uncertainty over quality, weight and moisture content.
An important conclusion is therefore that there is a considerable need for:-
1. Some way of offering users more instruction in how to operate their stoves in the most effective way.
2. Ways of giving users more confidence in purchasing fuel.