Will wood burning stoves become a property pariah?
The soaring cost of gas has made us all think twice about how frequently we turn on our central heating but no one wants to live in a cold home. In a bid to keep energy bills affordable, many homeowners have gone in search of alternative ways to keep warm.
In September 2022, the results of a survey conducted by Aviva found 1 in 10 homeowners planned to light fires or stoves more frequently to avoid using the central heating.
Therefore, it comes as no surprise that The Stove Industry Association reported that sales of wood burners in the second and third quarters of 2022 were up 40% and 66%, respectively. Demand, however, could ebb away as ministers and health officials take the polluting side effects of wood burners and stoves more seriously.
Legislation is already in place to try and rid the UK of the most polluting burners and to reduce the amount of pollution that’s released into the environment. To achieve this, all new wood burning stoves sold in the UK are required to comply with ECO2022 Ecodesign standards. Qualifying models have to meet minimum seasonal efficiency and maximum emission performance limits before they can be legally sold and installed.
In addition, some locations are already deemed ‘smoke control areas’ under the Clean Air Act. If a property falls within a smoke control area, the smoke from domestic open fires and wood burning stoves is restricted, and only authorised fuels are allowed to be burnt. If you’re unsure whether you live in a smoke control area, contact your local council’s environmental services department.
Despite these measures, the UK Government is now so alarmed about the rise of indoor pollution that it wants to impose greater penalties on people in smoke control areas who misuse log burners and stoves. Action is being taken after new data revealed particulate matter pollution from wood burning in homes has doubled over the past decade.
Ministers are now encouraging council officials to consider issuing on-the-spot civil penalties for those who break regulations. Fines could be as much as £300, and repeat offenders could face criminal prosecution, with penalties of up to £5,000 plus a further £2,500 for each day they break air pollution rules.
In London, the war against wood burners has taken a new turn – one that could provide a blueprint for the rest of the country to follow. The Mayor has set a new air quality limit that states all new developments in London must not contribute to net air pollution. The guidance effectively means wood burners are banned in new buildings and in homes where a refurbishment project is large enough to trigger a planning application. Homeowners in existing properties are still free to buy and install wood burners, however.
So, should homeowners be worried that a wood burning stove will devalue their home or put off buyers? As there isn’t a requirement to remove existing wood burners, there is no immediate impact on sales prospects. We do recommend that sellers have chimneys regularly swept, flues inspected and always buy dried wood or low-pollution solid fuels that are in accordance with any smoke control area regulations. If you have an existing property and want to install a wood burner, buy a new Ecodesign-compliant model instead of an older, second hand stove.
Homeowners planning to sell their property can contact us for further advice and local market updates.
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