Wood burning stoves: what you need to know
Stove Costs and Savings
By Liz Ransome-Croker
Article 4 of 7
Stove Costs and Savings
Use our stove-costs guide and tool to help work out whether the savings you could make on your heating balance out the cost of buying and installing a stove.
If you're thinking about buying a stove, you're probably wondering whether it's a good way to help cut your heating bills. But with stoves costing anywhere between £400 and more than £2,000, and that’s not even accounting for the cost of installation, could you really save money?
When we asked 237 stove owners*, who also have central heating, whether their stove has saved them money on their energy bills, 43% believe it has. However, 47% didn't think it had made any difference.
When it comes to the initial outlay, on average the stove owners we spoke to spent £1,897 on their stove and installation:
- 29% spent between £1,000 and £1,999
- 13% spent much more - between £2,000 and £2,999
- 13% got a stove cheaply, spending between just £500 to £999.
To help you work out whether you could really save, we talk you through the costs of buying, installing and running a stove and explain why and how the costs vary.
We've also worked with our scientists to put together a stove costs tool to help you work out what savings you could make.
The cost of a stove is partly dependent on whether you want a log burner or multi-fuel stove, as well as the size and wattage you need. Wattages range from 3kW to more than 15kW, and will be determined by the type of room you want to install it in. The Stove Industry Alliance (SIA) says that 5kW is the average size of stove.
Below, we give you a rough idea of the cost of a basic stove for a few different types:
Wood burning stoves
- 3kW-5kW - £400
- 6kW-8kW - £650
- 9kW-10kW - £900
- 11kW-12kW - £1,100
- 13kW-14kW - 1,200
- 15kW-18kW - £1,400
- 3kW-5kW - £450
- 6kW-8kW - £750
- 9kW-10kW - £900
- 11kW-12kW - £1,000
- 13kW-14kW - £1,200
- 15kW-18kW - £1,300
Stoves with a wattage higher than 18kW tend have back boilers, so that they can heat your whole house, like a central heating system. You can find out more about these on our page about wood heating systems.
What can affect the cost of a stove?
The costs above are approximate prices for a basic stove, but there is a huge variety of prices within each category, and a lot that can affect the price.
As you’d expect, if you pay more, you get more features. There are some features stove users we have spoken to would say it’s worth paying for - we'll help you decide which you need, and which you don't, at buying a stove.
Other factors that can hike the cost up include:
- if it's larger than average
- has a bigger window/s
- is slimline
- has a log store built into the stove
- is a corner stove
- is able to swivel
- can be inset into the wall, like a TV
- is double-sided, so you can see the flame from more angles
- is more of a design feature.
Boiler and pellet stoves
If you want to get a boiler stove - a stove with a boiler included or attached - you're looking at paying around £1,000 to £2,000.
Pellet stoves can cost between £1,000 and £4,000, depending on the size. The cost is mostly down to the fact that they are powered by electricity and have an automatic system that feeds the pellets into the stove.
If you're thinking of getting a whole wood-heating system instead of just a stove, your costs will be a lot higher. To learn more about the pros and cons, click wood heating systems.
Stove installation costs
According to the Stove Industry Alliance (SIA), installation costs could vary between £750 and £2,000. But the average installation costs £1,500.
There are a number of factors that affect installation costs, and these all depends on your home. Installation may cost more if:
- you need to have your chimney relined because otherwise gasses would escape
- your chimney needs work on it and is particularly tall, so may need scaffolding
- you need a flue created as you don’t have a chimney
- a vent needs to be fitted in the room - this is a building regulation requirement.
If you are quoted much over £2,000 for the installation of a stove alone, be wary. We recommend getting three quotes after a survey. Some installers charge for this, others don’t - so shop around. Get written confirmation of what the quote includes, so you can easily compare costs.
To make sure you get a safe installation and to find out what to expect from your installer, see our guide to the stove installation process.
Before deciding whether or not to get a stove, it’s worth thinking about how much it will cost to run. This varies greatly, depending on the type of fuel you choose to burn.
This may be determined by what you have access to, how easily you can store it and whether you live in a smoke-controlled area. Take a look at our guide to buying a stove to help you decide.
It's estimated that stove owners use around three to four cubic metres of wood a year, but this could vary greatly depending on what wood you use. It also varies according to the wattage and efficiency of your stove (this can range from 60% to more than 80%), the hours you run the stove, and the energy efficiency of your home.
Prices also vary by supplier and region, so it's worth taking a look at how much it costs in your area before making a decision.
But to give you a rough idea of the cost of wood, we've looked at prices across five online suppliers. All sites deliver across the UK, and the prices for seasoned and kiln-dried logs don't include delivery, but the price for the wood pellets and briquettes do.
- Seasoned logs - around £125 per cubic metre
- Kiln-dried logs - around £140 per cubic metre
- Wood pellets are usually sold by the kg and cost around £242 per 1,000kg (500kg is roughly equivalent to one cubic metre)
- Briquettes (made of crushed paper or wood) are also usually sold by the kg and cost around £290 per 1,000kg .
The prices for the logs are for hardwoods, such as ash, birch, oak and beech. These types of wood burn slower and have a higher heat output than softwood (pine and fir, for example), but are slightly more expensive.
Keep in mind that although some types are cheaper to buy, they may be less efficient to burn. For example, seasoned logs (ones that have been partially dried out) have around 25% to 40% moisture and so a 3kWh output per kg. Kiln-dried logs have around 20% moisture and so a 4.5kWh output.
Pellets and briquettes have the moisture content of around just 10%, and heat output of around 5kWh.
We would suggest only burning logs with a moisture content of less than 20%. With anything other than kiln-dried logs, briquettes and pellets, it's best to dry them out yourself.
Only burn logs with 20% or less moisture content.
You can also buy, or even find, freshly-cut logs. These are cheaper, but have a high moisture content of between 60% and 90%. They will therefore have a very low heat output of around 1kWh per kg.
Because of their inefficiency, and because burning moist logs will create more build up in your chimney and potentially harmful air pollution, we wouldn't recommend burning them as they are, but instead drying them out yourself. This is called seasoning, and will take one to two years.
However, this does mean you'll need the space and time to do so. For advice on the best fuel to use, go to using your wood burning stove, and for more information on pollution from stoves, visit our dedicated page.
Coal is usually sold in 10kg bags, but you can buy in bulk to reduce the price. It has the heat output of around 8kWh per kg.
Roughly speaking, house coal can cost between £5 and £10 for a 10kg bag. Smokeless coal, which produces less smoke, costs around £10 to £15.
Smokeless coal releases fewer emissions compared to house coal, and so is seen as more environmentally friendly. If you live in a smoke-controlled area, you'll only be able to use smokeless coal.
You can find out more information on the different types of coal on our page about using your stove.
Maintaining your stove
For all types of stove and fuel, you will also need to pay for maintenance. It’s recommended that you have your chimney swept twice yearly to keep your stove in good working order, and so that it doesn't produce potentially harmful pollutants or become a fire risk. This should cost between £60-£120 a year.
If you have a pellet stove, this will need to be serviced as well at around £200 a year.
Can a stove save me money on my heating bills?
There are rough calculations on how much a stove will cost you to buy and run, and whether it could save you money on your heating bills. But every home and stove is very different, including the wattage you'll need, the amount and type of fuel you'll use, and the hours you will be using it.
To give you a rough idea for yourself before speaking to an installer, you can use our stove costs tool to estimate how much you could save, balanced against how much as stove could cost you.
Before you start, you'll need to do the following first.
1Decide what type of stove you would like
Choose between a log burner or multi-fuel stove. Once you know this, you can assume the rough cost of the stove itself.
2Decide what fuel you are likely to use
We suggest looking at what supply is near you and how much it could cost. As well as whether you live in a smoke controlled area.
3Work out what wattage of stove you will need for your room
The average is 5kW - but the bigger the room, the bigger the wattage will be. This figure will also be affected by what energy-saving features you have in your home, such as insulation. So it’s best to speak to an installer to get a definitive answer on this.
But, as a rough guide, multiply the height, width and length in meters together and divide this by 14 - this calculation is also within the tool.
4Think about how many hours a week you plan on using the stove
For example, three hours each evening in the week and 12 hours at the weekend would add up to 27 hours per week.
5Find out how much you spend on gas
Your energy bill should show you how much the cost for gas is per kWh. If it's not on your bill, you can contact your energy supplier.
Using the information you have gathered, input the information into the tool. It will give you an estimate on how much it will cost to run in comparison to how much you pay for gas to heat your home for the same period of time over the winter months.
This is very much a rough calculation as there are a lot of variables to this. The calculations from the tool are based on running a stove at full capacity and efficiency for that number of hours, which is unlikely to be the case as you'll probably turn the stove down once your room gets hot, and stoves can only be a maximum of 80% efficient at burning the wood.
The cost for gas heating is based on the current cost of gas you pay, multiplied by the number of kWhs you predict you will use the stove. This assumes you have your heating off while using a stove for just four months of the year (October to April), and doesn't include a standing charge or gas used for other appliances in your home.
Remember, the way you burn the wood, the type of wood you use and its output, the amount of time you use the stove, and how much you fill the stove to capacity could all fluctuate. But hopefully this will give you a rough guide as a starting point before you speak to an installer, who can then give you more of an idea based on your home and lifestyle.
If you then decide a stove is still for you, take a look at our downloadable stove-buying checklist for all you need to know to get a safe and efficient stove.
Please note, the stove-costs tool also doesn't include calculations for pellet stoves, or those with a back boiler to heat the whole house. If you choose a pellet stove, you will have to factor in the money you would use running it on electricity.
If you want a stove with a boiler, you will need to think on a larger scale in terms of running time and amount of heat output. In this case it's worth speaking to an installer and/or heating engineer for advice.
*(August 2017 survey of 237 stove owners and Which? members who have a stove as well as central heating)