Invest in the future

Arada Stoves’ Jon Butterworth explains why stoves are becoming greener than ever and what it means for you and your build

The European Union’s Ecodesign Directive Standards aren’t coming in to force until 2022, but the UK stove industry is upping its game to ensure it isn’t left behind. The industry is manufacturing a new era of stoves in response to the lowest emission standards ever set, and to ensure consumers install a stove which will give them greener living and longevity for the future.

A wood burning stove is a desirable, trendy and stylish option for heating the home, shown by the fact that around 200,000 appliances sold in the UK every year, fulfilling our instinctive love of a real fire in a safe and controllable way.

While the modern day stove dates back to as early as 1741, a recent study from anthropologist Christopher Lynn of the University of Alabama reminds us that our natural enjoyment of fire has been a part of our evolution. The study found that sight of a real fire not only decreased blood pressure and increased relaxation among participants, but also encouraged social activity. All these factors can be related back to ancient gatherings where fire was our greatest tool for survival, being essential for warmth.

Yet despite their popularity, there has been plenty of negative press suggesting that wood burners could be ‘silent killers’, contributing to deadly air pollution that has been linked to life threatening diseases alongside the likes of diesel engines – another concern high on the environmental agenda.

Smoke from wood burning stoves and fireplaces contains a mix of harmful gases and particulate matter (known as PM2.5) which when inhaled can cause respiratory illnesses and health issues. It’s claimed that replacing just one old inefficient stove with a new ‘low emission’ alternative could be the equivalent to taking up to five old diesel trucks off the road.

European labelling requirements for solid fuel space heaters (LSH), otherwise known as Lot 20, emerged in August 2015. Put simply, Lot 20 is a Europe-wide, clean air law setting minimum levels for energy efficiency and significantly reducing the maximum particulate levels and organic gases (smoke).

The EU’s new Ecodesign standards – due to officially come into force in 2022 – are set to introduce a number of changes through new legislation and tighter standards. New products must be at least 72.5 per cent efficient, whereas before this legislation, the minimum efficiency was much lower at 65 per cent. Furthermore, the introduction of maximum carbon monoxide and NOx levels will come into force alongside legislation to greatly reduce particulate emissions. These levels are far lower than those allowed in the current Metropolitan UK Smoke Control Areas and will cover the whole of the UK, introducing measures where there are currently none.

An additional challenge for all manufacturers will be compulsory product surveillance. This will include the on-going checking of manufacturing standards to ensure that our product development, manufacturing process and overall quality are compliant with the Ecodesign standards.

“Clean burning” can be an overused phrase used by some manufacturers. In fact, it is low particulate technology which will determine the future success of wood burning stoves. From January 2018, all stoves will need to be ‘eco-labelled’ – just like electrical appliances such as washing machines and televisions are currently.

Consumers will have a much clearer view of a product’s efficiency and output. This means no more hiding behind meaningless claims of efficiency by manufacturers or fabricated green credentials, with the consumer being given standardised, relevant information to base their purchasing decision upon.

Alongside the EU Clean Air Act, strict EPA certification for North America can also be met using the same low particulate design concepts. Those in support of this similar scheme claim that making a switch to a ‘new style appliance’ can cut heating expenses, reduce smoke and improve air quality. American Air Pollution standards are even more stringent than those set out by the EU 2022 standards.

What does this mean for the manufacturer?

All stoves manufactured after 2022 must meet the new EU criteria, but despite still being five years away, some stove manufacturers are already well on the way to lowering the particulate emissions of their products. Air quality is a key priority for the UK heating industry and so leading UK stove manufacturers have decided to release stoves that meet the new low emission limits ahead of the introduction of the tighter regulations. In order to be seen as market leaders, it is essential that companies are at the forefront of tackling the new challenges ahead, and are leading by example. Future-proofing their products will ensure the end consumer makes the best investments for heating their home.

Arada’s new Farringdon range is just one example of this. These stoves meet the challenge of being attractive and easy to control for consumers and also have very low particulate emissions.

What does this mean for the installer and the consumer?

It is essential that consumers are educated on the importance of investing in a new low emission heating appliance. While a stove may be manufactured to meet these new standards, its installation, usage and fuel will affect its performance.

Independent tests carried out by the Stove Industry Alliance have already shown that an Ecodesign-ready stove produces 90 per cent fewer emissions than an open fire and 83 per cent less than a stove from 10 years ago. This new era of stoves will set the standard for the UK stove industry, and by fitting one six years early, you are removing the need to retrofit in the future; ensuring that the home in which it is installed is at the height of environmentally friendly living.

In the upcoming months, be sure to look for particulate information, alongside CO levels and efficiency when choosing your heating appliance. New products featuring the latest clean burning technology will not only be a stylish option for the home but will also be an investment for the future – lowering heating costs and promoting greener living for many years to come.

Jon Butterworth is sales director at Arada Stoves