With households trying to spend less on energy, we compare a wood burning stove vs central heating to find out what’s cheaper for your energy bills.
This has led to an increase in demand for wood burning stoves, according to the Stove Industry Association. But how does a wood burning stove compare to central heating?
We compare the cost of a wood burning stove vs central heating to find out what’s cheaper for your home.
Meanwhile, if you’re looking for cheaper gas and electricity, we’ve full info on how to do an energy comparison to find the best deals.
Wood burning stove
How much does it cost to run a wood burning stove?
|Wood burning stove requirements||Cost|
|Running costs||10.37p per kWh|
|Wood burner costs||£700-£5000|
|Chimney sweeping||£50-£80 for a year|
In addition, according to the Stove Industry Alliance, the average cost for one cubic metre of kiln-dried wood logs is between £120-£140.
It also suggests that a wood burner will use about 3.5 cubic metres of wood in a typical heating season (October-April), costing you anywhere between £420-£490 annually, so you’ll need to factor that in too.
On top of this, the type of wood you use, the size of your stove, whether it heats water, the whole house or just a room also affects the price you pay for a wood-burning stove. Depending on how cold it gets, your cost could change.
Though these prices might seem very high, the Energy Saving Trust says that a wood-burning stove can cut a home’s heating bill by 10%. Plus, it’s more of a long-term investment that could potentially save you money in the long run.
Pros and cons of a wood burning stove
- It’s the closest thing to a traditional open fire that you can get. Plus, Energy Saving Trust says that a wood-burning stove can cut a home’s heating bill by 10%.
- You can choose from a variety of wood burners for your home. Some can connect to a thermal store and heat your hot water tank while some incorporate top ovens so that food can be cooked slowly above the burner.
- If you’re lucky enough to get off cuts of wood from a local wood yard you won’t pay anything for logs.
- If your area is hit by a power cut, owning a wood burner could be the ultimate back-up plan
- The initial expense of a wood burner can range from £500 to over £5,000 for fancier designs. Installation costs about £2,000 on average – and it can be more expensive if you need to add a fireplace or a flue.
- Even if you can afford to install a wood burning stove, many modern properties aren’t designed to accommodate one.
- There are safety risks and extra costs that come with open fires. You need to take up the added costs of a chimney sweep. Prices can vary between £50 and £80 in most parts of the UK and around £90 in London.
- You need space to store wood carefully so that logs get plenty of air, with a roof to keep them dry.
- A wood burning stove can’t heat your entire home, only the main room you’re installing one in. This is unless you get a boiler stove, which we explain below.
- Wood burning in homes produces more dangerous tiny particle pollution, called PM2.5 than all road traffic in the UK. It can damage health and cause early death.
- You can be fined by your Council if your chimney releases too much smoke or if you burn unauthorised fuel without an exempt appliance.
How to efficiently use a wood burning stove
To make the most of your wood burning stove, here are a few measures you can take:
- Maintain the right temperature: Having an extremely strong fire isn’t always the best choice for heating your home. Your ideal wood burning temperature should be between 260-460°C.
- Regulate air flow: To control the amount of heat coming out of your wood burner, you need to find the right middle ground level for your primary and secondary vents. Do this by using a stove pipe thermometer and adjusting the air/wood flow.
- Use the right fuel: Always use properly dried seasoned wood as produces less smoke and pollution and heats more efficiently.
- Heat your entire house efficiently: You don’t want just one room to be heated up by a wood burner. To make sure that it works in all rooms, you can install a boiler stove, stove fan or vents to circulate the heat around your entire house.
How much does it cost to run central heating?
Central heating systems are designed to keep you and your entire house warm, as compared to a particular room.
The most popular central heating system used in the UK is a gas boiler. It’s also one of the most economical ways to heat your home if used efficiently. But with costs already high and energy prices predicted to rise in 2024, bills can add up and get expensive.
Here’s an estimate of how much you can expect to pay for central heating – both gas and electricity. We’ve done an estimate depending on average boiler sizes, average temperature settings and if you use it every day for six hours.
If you have a higher-than-average temperature setting, you’ll be paying more (see average room temperature).
|Gas central heating boiler||Cost per hour||Cost of running every day for six hours||Monthly cost|
Keep in mind that these costs can vary depending on how large your home is, what size boiler you have, how much you use it and how cold it gets.
Pros and cons of central heating
- The biggest advantage of central heating is the comfort it provides. It is the only form of heating that will heat your entire home evenly and let you make full use of every room in your home. That all-round warmth from central heating is just not possible from other forms of heating
- Convenience. You can usually ‘set and forget’ an automated heating system or enjoy flexibility with app-based control systems
- Flexibility to install new components and heat sources like underfloor pipes as and when required,
- Generally very safe: Gas boilers are tested and strictly legislated to make sure they conform to safety standards.
- The initial cost of a central heating system can be expensive, especially in older homes. This includes the cost of the boiler, radiators, pipes and labour costs.
- When the heating is on, your entire house gets heated at the same time. This means that your operating costs can be higher, as the heating needs to circulate across the house. This will be worse if some leaks or holes are there, as it can reduce efficiency.
- Central heating can be quite energy-hungry, especially if they rely on gas or oil. This can increase your bills, particularly during colder months when you use it more.
- It can be difficult to control the temperature in particular rooms or areas, especially if you feel colder than other people who live with you.
- Central heating systems can take a while to heat up the entire house if they’ve not been on for a while.
How to efficiently use central heating
Here’s how you can get the most out of your central heating:
- Keep your curtains and doors shut: Closed curtains and doors help insulate your home and prevent any heat from escaping. Plus, it reduces the amount of space in your home that needs to be heated.
- Turn down your thermostat by a degree. The World Health Organisation says 18°C is enough for healthy adults, but many of us have it above that. So try to turn the heating down by a single degree and you could save up to £100 a year, according to the Energy Saving Trust.
- Reduce your combi boiler’s flow temperature. The flow temperature on most combi boilers is set well above the boiler’s optimum level. By reducing the flow temperature from 75°C to 60°C – a level that’s more efficient – you should be able to cut your gas usage by 8%, according to innovation charity Nesta.
- Control your room thermostat: This will prevent your heating system from using more power than necessary. Once your room reaches the temperature you have set it at, it will turn off. Also make sure that your thermostat isn’t blocked by any furniture or curtains so that it can sense the temperature accurately.
- Set your boiler thermostat: Make sure that the temperature of the water is set at the right temperature or else it may not warm your home enough.
- Invest in smart heating controls: You can tailor your heating and adjust your heating times to use minimal energy.
Learn more about economical ways to use central heating at home in our guide.
Wood burners vs central heating – which is cheaper?
Based on current prices, a wood burner doesn’t tend to work out to be cheaper than central heating on average. This is how:
It costs 10.37p per kWh to run a wood burning stove according to Hetas. In contrast, it costs about 7p per kWh to run an average central heating system under the current average price cap.
So central heating works out to be cheaper than wood burning by around 3.37p per kWh.
However, exactly what’s cheaper for you will depend on how much heat you need, the size of your home and how many people live in your household.
Plus, wood burning has some drawbacks. It won’t heat your property as efficiently as central heating. it causes serious health impacts and can result in a dangerous level of pollution in your home, which can cause heart and lung diseases.
The installation costs are also quite high, and while wood burning offers good aesthetics to your home, it is not worth it when you consider safety and health hazards.
That way, central heating is not only cheap and safe but also circulates heat better in your house rather than being confined to one room.
Have a look at our energy saving tips guide to save money at home this winter. If you want to see how much your household appliances add up to your energy bill, use our appliance cost calculator to see where you can cut back.
Check out our article on help with energy bills if you’re struggling to pay for gas and electricity.
More energy saving tips
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- How much does it cost to have a fan running?
- Is it better to heat a room with underfloor heating or an old-school radiator?
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