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Real Life Case Studies

Ecodesign in Action, Harbour Lights, Cornwall
Featured on George Clarke's TV Show, Amazing Spaces
Key Points brought out in the case study:
  • Cosy heat in the living room.
  • Minimal smoke produced.
  • Remarkable clean burning.
  • Enhances family lifestyle.
Cosy yet efficient heating Remarkably

Clean Burning Sustainable building methods and resources. When Charlotte and Joey took on the project of renovating a disused public WC into a luxury holiday home, they knew they’d be adding a wood burner to warm the sea-side retreat, Harbour Lights, during the colder months.

Suitable building methods & resources

An important part of the renovation project had been to take a sustainable approach with building methods and use of resources. “We have re-used and recycled a lot of aspects of the property, including the driftwood banister which washed up on Charlestown beach and the ancient timber cladding adorning the walls of the lounge”.

Why did you want to have a wood burning stove?

Two reasons. We absolutely love wood burners; there is nothing more cosy and homely than a crackling fire. And we wanted the property to be as eco-friendly as possible.

Professional help

We didn’t realise how many different styles, sizes, shapes and colours there were on the market! We contacted a few local companies and decided to use Allen Valley The Fire Place for the purchase and installation, as they were so professional, knowledgeable and lovely to deal with.

Remarkably Clean Burning

“We were very keen to make the property as eco-friendly as possible, hence why the heating, lighting, and insulation are of the highest energy efficiency rating and wanted the stove to be no exception to this. We chose the Nordpeis S-31A not just on its looks, which perfectly suited Harbour lights , but also its remarkable clean burning. We knew that burning wood for fuel would be carbon neutral but we wanted to make sure the stove produced minimal smoke and was one of the most eco-friendly wood burners out there - in keeping with our environmentally friendly Cornish retreat.” Charlotte and Joey’s renovation project featured on George Clarke’s TV show, Amazing Spaces.

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Wood burning stove reduces cost of heating and enhances lifestyle
Key Points brought out in the case study:
  • No need for further heating in living/dining rooms
  • Chose multi fuel stove but settled on wood for environmental reasons.
  • Important to burn dry wood.
  • Oil usage significantly reduced.
  • Keeps rest of the house at comfortable warmth.
  • Heating not effected by winter power cuts.
No need for further heating in living/dining rooms

The Webb family live in a detached house in rural Wales, off the gas main. The house was built in April, 2003 with double glazing throughout, loft and cavity insulation. The central heating is acombi oil system. There is a lounge, open plan dining room and kitchen and four bedrooms. Michael Webb is retired and is at home most days looking after his two grandchildren before and after school. His wife Jayne works full time, Monday to Friday.

Keeps the rest of the house Comfortable

Before Michael Webb installed a stove he used an electric fire to supplement the central heating system. Now he uses the stove instead of the central heating system. His research into stoves told him that a stove could reduce his heating costs and provide comfortable warmth. The reality has proved his finding to be true.

Chose multi fuel stove but settled on wood for environmental reasons

Michael installed a multi-fuel stove in the lounge in October, 2013. The stove has an output of 5kw and an efficiency of 79%. Michael chose a multi-fuel stove so that he could burn a wide range of fuels but has settled on wood because it is environmentally friendly.

Important to burn dry wood

True to form Michael checked into the type of wood he should burn. He tried a range of kiln dried and seasoned softwood and hardwood. Softwood is cheaper but it burns quicker so cost wise they work out about the same, so he has discovered that hardwood makes more sense. He has settled on hardwood. Michael has also discovered that the key to a well burning stove is the moisture content of the wood. Michael has purchased a moisture meter and uses it to check the dryness of the logs before he uses or buys them. He finds it best to split a log before using the moisture meter. Michael has confirmed the moisture content of the wood that he has used as follows: Kiln dried wood 10-14%; seasoned 20-25% and locally sourced conifer 18-22%.

Oil usage significantly reduced – saving money

This year the Webbs have chosen to lay down freshly cut wood and allow it to dry before using. This is a cost effective way to buy logs so long as you are prepared to leave the logs to dry for at least one and preferably two seasons. Michael has purchased a simple open sided wood store and placed it along the side of his house. Logs will dry naturally when left open to the air. They just need protection from the rain.

The family has recorded their wood and other fuel usage between 16th November, 2013 and 20th February, 2014. The kiln dried has been mainly used during lighting and establishing the fire. Once established a mix of the seasoned wood has been used. The Webbs have been able to purchase kiln dried cut logs at £100 per m3 and seasoned cut logs £85 per m3.

During this period, the total cost of the wood used has been £461. On the days the stove was used it was generally lit for seven hours per day, between 4pm and 11pm. Oil usage is down from 500 litres to 240 litres. The saving using the stove has been £140.

The central heating has only been run for a few hours some mornings and very occasionally at other times. The wood burning stove keeps the lounge/dining room hot and most of the rest of the house warm. The lounge was never really comfortable before the stove was installed. The heat varies throughout the house but is certainly adequate in bedrooms. Leaving the lounge door open allows the warm air to circulate around the house.

Not effected by winter power cuts

One welcome benefit was that during the recent power failures the Webb’s had a warm house. The electric usage is also down because the central heating pump is not running to the same extent and the backup electric fire in lounge is no longer needed. The tumble dryer has not used at all. The Webbs dry clothes in lounge overnight, utilising the residual heat in room. In the year to July 2014, the Webbs have used 19% less electricity; £69.27 less than the same period last year.

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Energy Efficient Renovation includes Wood Burning Stove
Key Points brought out in the case study:
  • Recorded reduction in gas usage.
  • Temperature increase in living room.
  • More efficient use of heat in living area.
  • Heat transferred to other rooms.
  • Enhances family lifestyle.
Cost effective

The house is a traditional Malvern Stone detached Gentleman’s Residence built in 1880. The original Victorian part of the building has two feet thick solid walls, which effectively regulate the heat in the house in summer and winter. The extension now has super insulated cavity walls and 200mm deep insulation on the inside face of the walls. Attic spaces have been triple insulated and windows are double glazed. The aim is to have a house that has an energy rating of at least C.

The motivation behind the renovation was simple. The family decided that they could not afford the gas bill to heat the house at the desired level.

Recorded reduction in gas usage

The main form of heating in the house was gas. A new 92% efficient condensing boiler was installed Feb 2011. Prior to installing the stove the average daily winter gas usage was 18.66kw. A 74% multi fuel stove was installed in November, 2013. As the living room had an open fire, the family decided to replace it with a multi fuel stove because this meant that they could continue to burn the same fuel used in the open fire. When they learnt about the environmental benefits of wood they choose to switch to burning wood.

More efficient use of heat in the living area

Since installing the stove gas usage has dropped to 13.8kw. Factoring out the gas used for water heating this represents a 35% drop in space heating gas usage. This winter was warmer than last, but even with that taken into account the drop in gas usage is still significant. The average temperature in the winter months of 2014 was 3 degrees higher than 2013.

Simon took advantage of the discounted summer prices for kiln dried wood and purchased eight 1.2 cubic meter bags. In the time since the stove was installed up to the end of February six bags have been used, costing £562.

Temperature increase in living room

The most noticeable benefit of the wood burning stove has been the increase in temperature in the main living rooms. Since the stove was installed the thermostatically controlled radiators have only been used on cold mornings before the stove is lit.

The thermostats on the radiators in other rooms have been turned down to 16ºC when "on" in the evenings. The rest of the house does not need the radiators to come on when the stove is lit, unless it gets really cold. The temperature loggers show that the temperature in the downstairs living area has gone from an average 16ºC to a much more cosy 22ºC. To achieve this temperature using the gas boiler would have significantly increased the gas usage. Although the efficiency of the wood burning stove is lower than that of the condensing gas boiler, the energy is used more effectively. It is now concentrated in the main living room of the house, where the family likes to spend most of their time together. Simon likes to sit a little further from the stove than his wife. She enjoys the direct heat from the fire. In this way, the heat from the stove suits both their heat preferences.

Enhances family lifestyle

The plan is to install a second stove in other end of the house, along with a remote boiler thermostat. The family think that the warm air from both stoves will then permeate throughout the upstairs of the house, reducing further the need to activate the central heating.

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