We asked owners* of wood burning and multi-fuel stoves whether their stove had saved them money on their energy bills. While 43% said it had, 47% said it hadn’t. So how can you make sure you’re in the group who saves with a stove? Keep reading to find out.
Whether a stove could save you money depends on many different factors. This includes how energy-efficient your home is, how often you use the stove, how efficient the stove is and how much your current heating costs are.
You also need to factor in the initial cost of the stove and installation, which could run into thousands.
To help you work out whether a stove might save you money on your heating bills, considering the initial outlay, we’ve created a tool to give you a rough idea before you take the plunge.
To use our tool and find out if you can make a stove pay for itself, go to stove costs and savings.
Five ways to help you save money with a stove
Putting the cost of a stove to one side, there are things you can do to boost any saving you might be able to make on your heating bills:
1. Use free wood
Using free wood you’ve collected is the cheapest way to fuel your stove. You can use wood from your own garden or those of friends and family, from local woods or parks, or companies that are throwing it away.
Make sure you have the right to take it and don’t use any wood that’s been treated.
In a recent poll** we ran in our news story on the best types of fuel for a stove, out of 2,168 people:
- 39% said they use wood from their garden, drying it out first
- 25% said they collect wood from parks/woods, drying it out first.
Only 11% don’t dry the free wood they’ve collect out before putting it on their stove. Using wet wood is inefficient, as it takes energy to burn the water off first, so the heat output will be lower.
It can also cause more soot build-up in your stove and chimney, so you’ll need to get it swept more often to stop it being a fire risk. It also creates more pollutants.
To read all our expert advice on how to make the best of your stove, head to using a stove.
2. Learn how to use your stove efficiently
Whether you burn wood or coal, knowing how to start your fire and control it will help fuel burn more efficiently. This means your stove will emit more heat and use less fuel.
Depending on your stove and the fuel you’re using, there will be an element of experimentation to figure out what works best for you. But to give you a helping hand, watch our videos on how to light and control wood on a log burner and smokeless coal on a multi-fuel stove.
How to light a wood stove
How to light a multi-fuel stove
3. Turn your heating off
Obviously, if you get a stove, you’ll be able to turn your heating off in the room it’s in. However, it might be too chilly in the rest of your home if you simply turn off the heating throughout.
Set all the other radiator thermostats to low, so you don’t waste money heating the rest of your house. You could also consider getting zoned heating or using a smart thermostat.
Zoned heating means that you can set it so that only one section or part of the house is on at a time. So if, for example, you have your stove in the living room but will be in and out of the kitchen all evening, you’ll be able to turn your heating off in the living room and just have it on in the kitchen.
A smart thermostat means you can control your heating from your phone or tablet – as well as zone it, depending on the type you go for – turning it off or down elsewhere in your house while you’re snuggled in front of the fire.
Find out more about which smart thermostat is right for you – go to our smart thermostat comparison table.
4. Get the right stove for your home
There are two main types of stove – wood burning or multi-fuel. As you’d expect, wood stoves can only burn wood, while multi-fuel stoves can also burn coal.
If you’re only going to burn wood, we’d recommend getting a log burner, as opposed to a multi-fuel stove. That’s because wood and coal burn differently, and not all multi-fuel stoves are optimised to burn both fuels.
In our survey*, we also found that more people with a wood burning stove believe they saved on their energy bills than those with a multi-fuel stove – 46% as opposed to 39%.
The power output of the stove will also make a difference to any savings. If you get one that’s too powerful for the room it’s in, you’ll end up wasting energy by burning more than you need and opening windows to cool the room down.
The heat output of your stove depends not only on the size of the room it’s fitted in, but how energy efficient your home is – for example, does it have double glazing or insulation?
Check out our expert advice on how to buy a log burner or multi-fuel stove for more on what to consider, including our tool to help you calculate the wattage of stove you need.
5. Consider getting a stove with a back-boiler
If your central heating system is old, you might want to consider getting a stove with a biomass boiler – one that uses organic materials, such as wood and pellets. This means that with a boiler attached to it, the stove won’t just heat the room that it’s in, but your whole home.
With the increasing cost of gas, burning wood or other biomass material instead could save you money, especially if you use free wood. But you will need to factor in the initial costs – it could be as much as around £15,000.
For more information, see our guide on wood heating systems.
Don’t want a back boiler? Then make sure your boiler is one you can trust – we reveal the best boiler brands.
Cost of a stove
If you’re only getting a stove to save money on your energy bills, you’ll need to take the cost of the stove into consideration. On average, we found that people paid more than £1,800 for their stove and installation.
So if you do make any savings, it could take years to break even with the initial expenditure.
But for many people, it’s not all about the cost. When we asked people to say how they felt about buying a stove, the responses were overwhelmingly positive:
- 73% said it’s made their home warmer
- 66% said it’s a great focal point
- 64% said it looks lovely.
Only 15% said it was expensive to buy, and 16% said it was expensive to have installed.
*August 2017 survey of 237 Which? members who have a stove as well as central heating.
**Poll data collected on 22 January 2018.