A stove can be a beautiful focal point in your living room, creating a warm cosy atmosphere. However, wood, pellet and multi-fuel stoves have all come under fire for their carbon footprint. Modern eco-friendly stoves sold today are more energy-efficient and a lot kinder to the environment. Find out what can make a solid-fuel stove eco-friendly and the best models on the market.
What is an Eco-friendly Stove?
In the global move towards a carbon-neutral planet, many countries now require manufacturers of solid-fuel stoves to make their products eco-friendly. Although all stoves emit carbon dioxide, solid-fuel stoves generate more harmful gasses compared to gas or electric ones. As such, wood burners and multi-fuel stoves are now under tighter scrutiny by many health authorities around the world.
The great news is that modern solid-fuel stoves do a great job of significantly reducing a negative impact on the environment. Eco-friendly stoves typically benefit from the following features:
- Lower particulate matter emissions – Particulate matter can inflame your airways and raise your risk of lung and heart cancer if inhaled at high levels over time. Eco-friendly stoves produce between 50% and 75% fewer particulates than traditional ones.
- Lower CO2 Emissions – Carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas that traps heat in the earth’s atmosphere. It’s largely responsible for global warming. Modern solid-fuel stoves produce emissions of only 0.008 kg CO2 per kWh, compared to 0.198 kg from gas stoves, and 0.517 kg from electric stoves.
- Higher energy efficiency – Although older stoves simply burned the fuel introduced into the chamber, the redesigned modern stoves burn the exhaust gases as well. This boosts heat output, generating more heat per kilogram of fuel introduced. In turn, this releases fewer particulates into the atmosphere.
- Improved fuel standards and sustainability – Standards have improved with regards to how solid-fuel is sold and the conditions solid-fuels need to meet for sale. Wood logs, for example, have lower moisture levels compared to those sold in the past. Seasoned wood logs have a moisture content of 20% or less – a vast improvement compared to the 30% moisture level of those sold five years ago.
How Do I Know if My Stove is Eco-Friendly or NOT?
Legal regulations regarding stoves will differ depending on where you live. Some countries impose strict standards on stove manufacturers. Models that meet these standards have been developed to lower harmful emissions and enhance energy efficiency. These models are the ones widely regarded as eco-friendly stoves.
Ecodesign Ready Stoves
A new European-wide law which will be brought into effect from 2022 aims to lower emissions and improve air quality. Under the Ecodesign scheme, all stoves manufactured and sold in the EU must be “Ecodesign Ready”. These models consume less energy and emit fewer toxic gases, such as carbon monoxide and nitrogen oxides. They also reduce potentially harmful particulate emissions by more than 80% compared to older stoves.
In the United Kingdom, the Ecodesign scheme is being led by the Stove Industry Alliance (SIA). The SIA represents stove manufacturers and fuel producers. It has already encouraged many stove manufacturers in the UK to produce “SIA Ecodesign Ready” models ahead of 2022.
DEFRA Approved Stoves
UK homeowners must comply with the Clean Air Act which is currently in force. This legislation places restrictions on stove owners who live in smoke control areas, such as London, Manchester or Belfast. They are prohibited from emitting dark smoke from their chimney, meaning that they will only be allowed to burn smokeless fuel.
To avoid this offence – which carries a fine of £1,000 – stove owners living in a smoke control area need a DEFRA approved stove (also known as a DEFRA exempt stove). These models fit the UK government’s criteria for emission levels and the permitted amount of smoke they can produce.
DEFRA approved stoves make it harder for wood to smolder while preventing it from ever being completely starved of oxygen. So, as well as reducing emissions, DEFRA approved stoves will minimise sooty build-up in your chimney.
DEFRA is the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. It’s the government department in charge of environmental protection, agriculture, fisheries, food production and rural communities in the United Kingdom.
EPA Certified Stoves
In the United States, the US Clean Air Act requires that wood stoves be certified by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). They must meet a particulate emissions limit that doesn’t exceed 4.5 grams per hour. EPA certified stoves must also have a heating efficiency rating between 70% to 83%.
Cleanburn stoves were developed in Norway with the objective of creating an ultra eco-friendly stove. It’s not a legal requirement to have one, either in Norway or anywhere else in the world. However, Cleanburn stoves are widely recognised for their significant ecological value since they’re manufactured to the extremely high Norwegian Standard on emissions – one of the most stringent in the world.
A Cleanburn stove has a series of holes halfway up the rear of the burn chamber. These holes allow additional oxygen to ignite the volatile gases, resulting in more efficient burning and lower emissions. It also provides a cleaner burn, since fewer soot particles move up the chimney or flue and into the atmosphere.
Best Eco-friendly Stoves to Buy
Shopping for an eco-friendly stove is easy when you know what to look out for. It will depend largely on the type of solid-fuel stove you’re after – wood-burning, pellet or multi-fuel. Let’s take a look at each type to help you choose the best one for your home, while also being kind to the planet.
Top 3 Best Eco-Friendly Wood-burning Stoves
A wood-burning stove (or wood burner) is a heating appliance that can burn wood fuel, sawdust bricks, and any other wood-derived biomass fuel. They consist of a solid metal closed firebox, typically from steel or cast iron. The flue fills with hot combustion gases once the fuel is ignited.
Wood-burning stoves provide a sustainable heat source. Since wood logs are a natural by-product of the thinning process in forests, they’re virtually carbon neutral. As a result, the woodland is being increasingly recognised as a valuable resource for sustainable fuel.
Here’s our selection of eco-friendly wood-burning stoves available to buy:
1. Esse One Ecodesign Stove
The Esse One stove has a heat output of 5kw and is DEFRA exempt, allowing you to burn wood in any smoke control area of the UK. It boasts an improved 82% thermal efficiency compared to its previous model. It also features a primary, secondary and tertiary air supply.
This stove has an energy rating of A+ and is also Ecodesign Ready for 2022. Its energy efficiency is enhanced due to its steel body construction with a cast iron door.
Prices range from $620 to $623.
2. Aspect 14 Eco Stove
The Aspect 14 Eco wood-burning stove boasts a thermal efficiency level of 71%. It’s DEFRA approved and has a heat output range from 8 to 15 kW.
It’s worth noting that the Aspect 14 Eco is a Cleanburn stove, so it surpasses DEFRA’s standards by meeting the stricter Norwegian Standard. Its Triple Burn technology uses three streams of air to maximise combustion – air is drawn beneath, above and behind the fuel. This hot air improves ignition and burns wood more efficiently.
Prices range from $1,830 to $2,031.
3. Løvenholm Traditional Stove
The Løvenholm Traditional wood-burning stove has a high heat output with exceptionally low emissions. It’s Cleanburn’s best selling stove and one of the few models manufactured in Britain to pass the Norweigian Standard.
The Løvenholm Traditional has a heat output range from 3 to 5 kW and a thermal efficiency level of 75%. It’s DEFRA approved, so it can be used to burn wood in smoke control areas of the UK. Its Tripleburn Technology improves the ignition of the fuel due to a jet of air that’s directed into the heart of the fire.
Prices range from $982 to $1,284.
Top tips to keep your wood-burning stove eco-friendly:
Lack of maintenance and bad burning practice, coupled with poor quality fuel choice, leads to visible smoke. You can avoid this by following six simple steps:
- Burn dry, sustainable and seasoned firewood, ideally with a moisture content of 20% or less. We recommend kiln dried logs and heat logs which have a very low moisture level and are made from 100% recycled wood.
- Get your stove regularly serviced and maintained. This includes emptying ash pans (containers) beneath the wood grate.
- Keep an eye on parts that may need replacing to ensure the best burning environment.
- Refuel onto a hot ember bed as opposed to when flames are present. Also, avoid refueling with treated or painted wood, as this emits harmful fumes.
- Sweep your chimney at least once every six months to clear any build-up of creosote and soot. These could damage the chimney and spread fire to the surrounding structure, especially the roof.
- Install a carbon monoxide detector in your home. You should get one even if not required by law in your home country. This is because wood-burning stoves carry a higher risk of CO emissions than other stove types.
Top 3 Best Pellet Stoves Options For Eco-Friendly Lovers
Pellet stoves are designed to burn only small pellets made from wood waste that are about the size of rabbit food. Wood waste, naturally generated by the lumber industry, is made up of things that would usually be discarded to biodegrade on their own. This makes it a renewable biomass energy source.
Most pellet stoves are constructed using large heat-conductive steel or cast-iron pieces. As the pellets burn, the heat generated is distributed throughout the house with the help of a heat-powered wood fan.
Today’s modern pellet stoves can reach a very high-efficiency level. Wood Pellets burn slowly, so they emit very low amounts of smoke and chemical compounds compared to wood logs. Eco-friendly pellet stoves are those that use minimal pellets while maintaining high energy efficiency to heat an entire house or apartment.
Here are some of our top eco-friendly pellet stoves on the market:
1. Comfortbilt HP22 Pellet Stove
The Comfortbilt HP22 has an exceptionally high heating capacity of 14.65 kW. It’s certified by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) so it complies with all federal mandates on emissions in the United States. Its heat exchanger design produces maximum heat from pellets.
Five power settings allow up to 20 hours of continuous burning on the lowest setting. The Comfortbilt HP22 also comes with a programmable thermostat that allows for a constant temperature around your home.
Prices range from $1,999 to $2,500.
2. Pleasant Hearth Pellet Stove
The Pleasant Hearth pellet stove has a heat output of 14.65 kW. It’s EPA-certified and has a thermal efficiency level of 85%. It’s very eco-friendly as it boasts a low CO2 emissions level of just 0.69 g/hr.
This model’s large storage capacity means that it can be refilled with 120 lbs of pellets, giving it a burn-time ranging between 16 to 46 hours. It also comes with an outside air kit and convection blower to facilitate the distribution of warm air in your home.
Prices range from $1,500 to $1,550.
3. Castle 12327 Serenity Pellet Stove
The heat output of the Castle 12327 Serenity Wood Pellet Stove is 9.083 kW and it has a thermal efficiency level of 70%. Unlike most pellet burners, it comes with a smart controller, allowing you to change the heating level easily from a distance.
You can also set a timer to have it turned off based on your schedule. This eco-friendly feature means you won’t waste any fuel while your pellet stove is not being used. Its inbuilt fan also improves the regulation of heat temperatures throughout your home.
Prices range from $880 to $1,100.
Top tips to keep your pellet stove eco-friendly
Make your pellet stove more ecological by following these two easy steps:
- Clean your pellet stove at least once a week to remove any accumulation of creosote – the sticky, flammable substance that causes chimney fires.
- Buy premium-grade pellets instead of standard or low grade as they generate a higher energy performance. Premium-grade pellets also produce less than 1% cent ash, while low-grade ones can produce up to 6% cent ash.
Best Eco-Friendly Multi-fuel Stoves
A multi-fuel stove is one that can burn a range of solid fuels, such as wood, wood pellets, coal, and peat. These stoves are typically made of steel or cast iron.
An eco-friendly multi-fuel stove has a slotted grate. When wood is burned on this grate, its ash falls into the ash pan before it has time to re-burn. Not being able to re-burn the wood ash results in less efficient burning and more frequent cleaning. The steel casing of multi-fuel stoves allows heat to radiate into the room quickly, while its cast-iron doors hold on to the heat for longer.
Here’s our top pick of the eco-friendly multi-fuel stoves on sale in the shops:
1. Saltfire ST2 Multi-fuel Stove
The Saltfire ST2 uses sophisticated clean-burning technology that very few stoves possess. They’re even cleaner than the standard required under DEFRA. This means it can legally be used anywhere in the UK and the EU, including in the strictest of smoke control areas.
The Saltfire ST2 stove has an energy rating of A+ and a heat output of up to 5kW. Its thermal efficiency rating reaches a whopping 81.3%.
Prices range from $786 to €1,078.
2. Woodford Lowry Ecodesign Multi-fuel Stove
The Woodford Lowry model is Ecodesign Ready, so it meets all the requirements of the new European air quality standards which will come into force from 2022. This multi-fuel model is also DEFRA approved for burning wood in smoke control areas. IIn addition, it’s a Cleanburn stove, meaning that it satisfies the stricter Norwegian standard compared to DEFRA standards.
Its steel body and cast door optimise burning efficiency, giving it a thermal efficiency rating of 75% and heat output of 5kW.
Prices range from $653 to $655.
3. Løvenholm European SE Multi-fuel Stove
The Løvenholm European SE is a Cleanburn multi-fuel stove. It’s also DEFRA approved. This model has a heat output range of between 3 to 5 KW and a thermal efficiency level of 75%. The stove from Løvenholm boasts an A energy efficiency rating.
It’s manufactured with Tripleburn Technology so that more of the fuel is ignited, resulting in increased heat output and less smoke. This technology also ensures that heat is continually redirected into the room, minimising the escape of warm air.
Prices range from $1,325 to $1,560.
Top tips to keep your multi-fuel stove eco-friendly:
Here are two things to keep in mind to ensure your multi-fuel stove stays eco-friendly:
- Use smokeless fuels to avoid large quantities of smoke. Good brands of smokeless coals include Homefire, Ecoal50, and Taybrite. For smokeless wood, look out for the brands Kiln Dried Logs and Flamefast Instant Light.
- Burn smokeless coal and firewood together. This can be beneficial to your multi-fuel stove as the extra heat from the solid fuel drives off any moisture in your logs. This significantly reduces the build-up of tar and rust. A fire fuelled by both smokeless coal and firewood will also burn hotter for longer.
Wrap it up
Even if your home country doesn’t impose any strict manufacturing standards on stoves, it’s still a good idea to buy one that’s either Ecodesign Ready, DEFRA approved, EPA certified or a Cleanburn stove. These tend to be the most eco-friendly stoves on the market because they’re specifically manufactured to satisfy very high standards.
Eco-friendly stoves are not only kinder to the environment – they’re also more cost-effective than traditional ones. They burn fuel more efficiently to heat your home for longer. By replacing your old stove with a modern eco-friendly one, you’ll be making a positive difference to your health, your bills and the planet.