Once again major gas suppliers have announced hefty, above inflation gas price rises – and just as the weather is turning colder. The news is that British Gas will increase the cost of gas by 6% in November 2012. The is likely to add around £80 to the average bill and push the annual gas bill for an average home up to £1,300. So, are there alternatives to gas?
Wood Burning Stoves
Pictured: 4kW Cast Iron Woodburning Multifuel Stove V13S
There was a time when all homes in the UK were heated by wood or coal. In recent decades a relative reduction in gas prices and the desire for many people to live in modern homes without open fires meant that open fires went out of fashion.
However, modern wood burning stoves produce very little waste and you do not require a traditional brick chimney either. A simple flue pipe can carry away the modest amount of smoke. Wood burners can provide 24 hour heat to rooms in the winter, and while they are generally placed in living rooms, there is no reason why one cannot be added to a large kitchen or conservatory. Wood burners also provide a homely warmth that can only be achieved with a roaring open fire.
Cast Iron Wood Burners
There are many wood burners on the market and today they are rated by the amount of heat that they give off. When shopping for a wood burner be sure that it carries a genuine CE certificate issued in the UK. The follows stoves are all CE certified. They range from a small 4Kw stove (currently £199.99) up to a 10kW stove (currently £299.99).
Install a Chimney / Flue
You do not need a full brick chimney to have a woodburner, instead you just need a flue pipe to take away the smoke. Flue pipes for stoves will also add a significant cost initially, especially if you wish to have more than one stove.
Where to Buy Wood?
Of course, unless you have your own woodland you will have to purchase your wood. Ideally all wood should be sourced from a sustainable source, which means using coppice or pollarded wood sources, or fast growing wood from sustainably managed forests.
You can now order wood online (what can’t you order online?) from various websites. LogsDirect.co.uk deliver to Essex. They provide kiln dried hardwood which gives an excellent and burns slow with maximum efficiency. 1 cubic metre costs around £170, which includes VAT and delivery.
If you have the space to store more than 2 cubic metres costs £270. LogsDirect say that one crate should last one winter, however, if you move entirely to woodburning for heat then more will be needed. If you heat a couple of rooms downstairs and keep the bedrooms cooler (buy thicker duvets!) then it may be possible that heating with wood will be more economical.
There are several people on eBay.co.uk selling firewood logs, prices vary.
Wychwood Tree Surgeons deliver wood to London and Essex, 1 cubic metre is currently £65 and 2 cubic metres are £125. You can order through their website, www.firewood-seasonedlogs.co.uk.
Local Fire Wood Sellers:
- Brentwood Logs – 25, Vernon Crescent, Brentwood, Essex, CM13 2BH. Tel: 01277229709
- Enviro-Waugh – Darby Grange, Lynderswood Farm, London Road, Braintree, Essex, CM778QN. Tel: 01371851482 / 07771964058
- Four Seasons Fuel Ltd – Four Seasons Farm, Nr Billingshurst, West Sussex, Coneyhurst, West Sussex, England, RH14 9DG. Tel: 001403783379
- Pukka Wood Products – 305, London Road, Southend-on-Sea, Essex, SS0 7BX. Tel: 01702 430022
- R H Fuels – Birch Hall – Dale Hill, Kirby-Le-Soken, Frinton-On-Sea, Essex, CO013 0EL. Tel: 012558601374 / 07770613102
- Timbertec Tree & Garden Services – 5, Arun Close, Chelmsford, Essex, CM1 7QE. Tel: 01245257116
How About Solar Heating?
In recent years there have been promotions for solar energy. While you cannot generate enough electricity from roof top solar panels to heat your house you can heat up the hot water. This could make a saving in the long-term, however, the cost of installing solar panels will far exceed the savings made. Solar panels will only reduce annual heating costs by around £50-100.
The government does run an incentive scheme whereby surplus energy generated by solar panels can be sold back to the national grid. However, they recently reduced the amount that they pay per kilowatt from 40p down to 20p.
Also, solar panels do need an annual check-up and are generally only guaranteed to last 10 years. If your goal is to go green they are a good option, but they are not the solution to save money!