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Research shows wood burners are more expensive for heating than gas boilers

A new study has found that household wood burners are a more expensive way to heat homes than gas boilers or heat pumps.

On Tuesday 14th November new research outlined that it is 15% more costly to use a wood burner to heat a house than a gas boiler, which shows that not only do these devices cause serious health and environmental dangers they are also too expensive to run.

burning firewood

The study, which was supported by Impact on Urban Health, found when a household uses a newly installed, Defra-approved wood burner for 20% of its heat, its yearly cost is between £2,204-£2,028. This works out as 24% more than a gas boiler.

In addition, the cost rises to 48% more expensive where a household uses a wood burner for 80% of its heat, costing between £2,433 – £2,614 per year.

‘This research dispels the myth that wood burning is a cheaper energy alternative whilst shining a light on the toxic effect it has on the air we breathe,’ said Rachel Pidgeon, from the charity Impact on Urban Health. ‘It’s vital that urban communities understand the connection between burning and the air pollution it creates.’

To put into perspective how dangerous wood burners are, a study that was conducted in 2022 by Professor Chris Whitty, the chief medical officer for England, found even ‘eco-design’ wood burning stoves produced 450 times more toxic air pollution than gas central heating.

Lucy Anderson, head of research at Global Action Plan, the organisation that helped carry out the research, said: ‘Pressures on household finances may be tempting more people towards burning wood because they believe it’s cheaper. But our new research demonstrates that wood burning is almost always more expensive than other formers of heating in the UK.’

Following the publication of this research and with winter vastly approaching, a series of organisations including Mums for Lungs, Global Action Plan and Impact on Urban Health are calling for better awareness of the economic, health and environmental costs of wood burning.

Jemima Hartshorn, founder, and director of Mums for Lungs said: ‘Every autumn and winter, people in towns and cities are exposed to extreme levels of toxic fumes from wood burning. This pollution affects us all, but children are particularly impacted by air pollution. It contributes to the UK’s incredibly high child asthma rates, for example.

‘It’s vital people ae aware of the strong connection between burning wood and the air pollution it causes, which has lasting, damaging effects on people’s lives.’

Image: Connor Jalbert

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chris
chris
7 months ago
Jason
Jason
7 months ago

Sooner they are banned the better. How on earth can this be allowed and in many cases even encouraged in 2023. I am surrounded by about a dozen of the things in a small town in the countryside and when they are started up my house reeks of burning and my air quality meter turns to “danger” forcing me to run air filters throughout my house. I am also forced to use electric heating because the gas boiler draws in what is supposed to be “clean fresh” outside air. It makes my nose, throat and eyes hurt and causes headaches, never mind the long term heath implications.Even going outside for walk in the evening is no longer possible because the smoke and smells cause coughing fits. Of course the local council and even my MP don’t give a toss.

chris
chris
7 months ago
Reply to  Jason

We know just what you mean, Jason. The stoves can be awful in a village too. Not just a problem in towns, bad as that is. Plays havoc with my asthma, and like you, our MP isn’t bothered. Our local council doens’t monitor the air quality, says there is no need. But how do they know? A very circular argument.

MikeB
MikeB
8 months ago

Dear Government please wake up and start to get a grip on the mass polution of the nation taking place each winter. Every year of delay invites thousands more installations of the trendy stoves. There needs to be an immediate ban on using Wood Burning stoves in all properties that have an alternative source of heat, such as electric or gas. In this century, and with a huge population all squeezed into towns and cities allowing wood burning to continue will become the next big health scandal. It will have a massive impact on health over the coming years, more severe than Smoking or Asbestos.It is also a pollution that neighbours are subjected to with no real recourse.
Please do not delay and allow the situation to deteriorate further. You know it’s pollution please act now.

chris
chris
7 months ago
Reply to  MikeB

Thanks, Mike, we couldn’t agree more. But does anyone in our Government read these articles? They must know. The air is tainted with wood smoke in the countryside too.But I suppose others will glibly say that’s “only natural”? Still gets down our lungs. We’ve noticed that some of the very dirty wood burners (stoves and bonfires alike) are, or were, heavy cigarette smokers. Presumably, they cannot smell the smoke themselves and they enjoy it? This is why we need legislation, to protect the rest of us. The NHS ought to display posters this winter. But are they listening?

chris
chris
8 months ago

Of course, those who scavenge for their (free) wood will say it IS cheaper than anything else …. so how can we convince them it is unhealthy?

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