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How to improve your wood stove’s efficiency

24 Nov

A wood stove can be a perfect centrepiece for your home and it’s a great, energy-efficient way to heat your home and water.

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If you have a wood burning cooker, pellet stoves or wood burning boiler stoves, then you can ensure it runs smooth and clean with a few simple steps. Here are our top tips to improve the efficiency of your wood stove:

1. Get the chimney right
The chimney is a vital part of the overall wood burning stove. So make sure it is high enough, at least two feet taller than the roof, but keep the stove pipe to less than seven feet with no more than two elbows. If it’s longer or more convoluted than that then the smoke can cool too much before it gets to the chimney, which will affect the pressure it can produce.

2. Keep the chimney clean
A blocked or simply coked up chimney is one of the major reasons why a stove doesn’t work at its absolute best. Chimneys are designed for smooth airflow and a heavy layer of deposits on the inside wall will simply disrupt the air and ensure that your stove isn’t as efficient as it could be.

3. Think about positioning
If you want to heat the whole house and your water supply then ensure that your stove is close to the centre of the house for the most efficient heating. A stove works best in an open-plan house, too, and though it might be a step too far to remove interior walls to make the most of your heating system, it might be worth bearing in mind if you’re moving.

4. Use dry wood
Cheap wood may seem like a bargain, but it can be completely the opposite if it has a high moisture content that causes a lot of smoke and not enough fire. Aim for wood with a 15-20% moisture content and you’ll use less and get a better burn that keeps you warmer, faster, for longer. Expect one split log to last an hour, as a rough approximation.

Check your chimney; if everything is working well you should not see smoke. If it smokes for more than 20 minutes then there is likely a problem with the fuel or elsewhere in the system.

5. Use the ‘top down’ lighting method
Take several logs, kindling and create a layered cage around screwed-up newspaper or firelighters. This allows the heat to escape and creates a draft in the chimney that will help feed the fire. Keep the air control fully open at this point, and leave the door slightly ajar, then light the paper or lighters from the top and let the flame descend down and catch the kindling.

6. Wait, don’t just throw on logs
After 45 minutes to an hour, when you’re left with glowing embers, that’s the time to add more wood, after raking the embers to the front. Use just as much wood as you need, when you need it, for the most efficient fire. Regulate the air control once the new logs have caught fire to ensure the cleanest possible burn.

7. Make sure it’s cold outside, or warmer inside
You can’t control the weather, but a wood burning stove works better when there’s a larger temperature difference between the outside and inside as the draft is an essential part of the operation. If you run the stove on a hot day then the air inlets may shut down, which is not good for the chimney.

 
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