Wintertime means keeping warm and there’s nothing better than the warm glow of the fire on a cold night. But when it comes to keeping cozy and warm, not all fireplaces are created equal.
If you’re trying to decide whether or not to install a woodburner in your home, here are a few considerations to think about before you make a purchase.
An open fireplace may look the part, but they are inefficient when compared to modern woodburners. In many parts of the country, an open fire will not conform to council regulation around emissions output.
A modern woodburner returns around 55% - 70% efficiency, which means it transfers 55% - 70% of its heat out to its surroundings. An open fireplace, however, returns around 20%.
While an open fire may have great aesthetic appeal when it comes to performance it’s worth paying the extra money for a good quality woodburner.
Modern woodburners and Energy Star® qualified heat pumps provide the most efficient heating solutions for your home.
While a woodburner may not be as convenient as flicking on a switch, they do offer some benefits over a heat pump.
Heat pumps run on electricity so, during winter, the chances are you’ll see a hike in power bills. Some heat pumps don’t work effectively in very cold climates, and, of course, won’t work at all if there is a power cut. In order to get the best performance out of a heat pump, check that it’s an Energy Star® qualified model.
Modern woodburners produce very little pollution, as they are slow combustion burners. Using dry wood and burning it cleanly (with little smoke) will mean you’re getting the best out of your woodburner.
Woodburners use a renewable source of energy as fuel and are recommended by EECA Energywise as a carbon-neutral heating system.
A few things to consider...
Particulate emissions are emitted when the fire is burning fuel. The lower the emissions, the lower the health hazard. You can check a woodburner’s emissions on its compliance plate or with the re-seller. As a general rule, you want to get a woodburner with emissions below 1.5g/kg, as this will comply with National Environmental Standards (NES).
Current rules state that if your land area is less than 2 hectares, woodburner must comply with the NES. Specific rules around woodburners vary throughout the country, so always check with Local Council first. Some stricter areas specify as low as 0.5 or 0.7g/kg for woodburners. Get a building consent and always use a certified installer.
The performance of your woodburner depends on the performance of your house. If you have a well-insulated house, then the fire will be able to do the most efficient job.
Even the very best woodburner won’t heat an entire house on its own. If you want to reach other rooms in the house, look at installing a heat transfer system to move warm air.
You can determine the output you’ll need from your woodburner by visiting the EECA Energywise heater size calculator.
Woodburners are slow combustion burners. Heat is regulated by controlling the amount of oxygen to the fire. Heat comes from radiant heat from the box and flue as well as escaping from vents in the box. Most experts agree that woodburners are the best choice for heating large open spaces (like a living area).
The key to getting the most out of your woodburner is burning the wood correctly. If you’ve had an old-style woodburner in the past, take the time to learn how to use your new modern woodburner.
Always use dry, seasoned firewood and burn cleanly (with less smoke). And check you’ve got somewhere to store firewood before you decide to purchase a woodburner.
Keep flues and chimneys regularly cleaned (at least once a year) and remove ash regularly.
Here is a selection of woodburners that all meet the NES of low emission woodburners.
1) The PyroClassic Woodburner
As featured in the NZHomes article Threepwood Oregon Home, the Pyroclassic is a NZ made woodburner. It is very energy efficient and has only 0.3g/kg emissions. It comes in a variety of colours to match your colour scheme. Retail price $3289.
2) The Woodsman Flare
We love the modern look of the Woodsman flare, which has a huge 17.1kw heat output, 0.97g/kg emissions and is also NZ made. The Flare comes in three different colours and retails for around $2199.
3) The Warmington studio fire
Ideal for smaller houses, the Warmington studio fire is another solid NZ made woodburner with a clean emissions rating of 0.95g/kg. The Warmington woodburner retails from $2863.
4) The Bionic fire
The Bionic fire is an Ultra Low Emissions Burner which has been tested under the stricter Canterbury Method 1 (as opposed to 4012/4013 like the other fires). It has a fully automatic mechanic down draft burner, under 0.5g/kg emission, and a resource consent for the Clean Air Zone 1 in Christchurch, Rangiora and Kaiapoi. This high performance woodburner retails for $7870.
Selecting a modern and efficient woodburner will help make your new home more energy efficient. Read up on other ideas for improving energy efficiency in the home.
View the Build me. directory to search for other woodburners available in NZ, or find a certified fireplace installer (coming soon).