Whether you already have a stove or are thinking of getting one, make sure you're using your log burner or multi-fuel stove appropriately.
Everyone's homes and stoves are different, so there are a lot of different factors – including air pressure and the type of flue you have – that can change the way you light and use your stove.
Follow our video and step-by-step tips to get started.
Whatever your circumstances, it's important to do the following to minimise levels of potentially harmful emissions:
Finding the most effective way to ignite your stove and keep it burning at the right temperature will take a bit of practice. Follow our video and step-by-step tips to get started.
In our October 2021 survey of more than 1,300 Which? members that had bought a wood-burning stove in the past 10 years,* we asked those who had it installed by someone from the stove company what information they had received from the installer.
We found that 26% of those surveyed weren't provided information about how to use their stove efficiently, 27% hadn’t been informed how to use a stove safely and 34% hadn’t been told how to light a fire effectively. In addition, 31% hadn’t been informed of the best fuel to use and as many as 41% hadn’t been told which to avoid.
Worryingly, however, 4% said they had received no information on any of these topics. If you're getting a new stove installed, ask the company you buy it from and your installer to tell you how to light it. Ask for a demonstration too.
Survey respondents told us:
The installer in the showroom was able to show me the actual stove burning and the staff were attentive and helpful.
It's worth buying a stove thermometer to monitor the temperature; this will go on the side of your stove. Most stoves should stay between 200°C and 250°C. This can vary for each stove, so check with the manufacturer.
Asked what three types of fuel they use most often, the majority of respondents told us they use wood – seasoned logs (54%), kiln-dried logs (44%), ready to burn wood (29%). Smokeless coal was the second-most common fuel, used by 19% of respondents.
When it comes to seasoned logs, 44% considered this to be the best fuel for keeping costs dow, and 49% said seasoned logs were good for keeping the stove clean.
Smokeless coal is a manufactured fuel that produces less smoke than house coal.
To make sure you get the most out of your wood-burning stove and don't create additional pollution, it’s important to use the right kind of wood.
Modern stoves are designed to be more efficient than the older type, but you should use the right fuel to keep yours working well.
First and foremost, you need to burn wood that is as dry as possible – it shouldn't contain more than 20% moisture.
Using fresh logs with a high moisture content of around 50% to 60% or more will reduce your stove’s heat output, leave more build-up in your chimney, and create more smoke and potentially harmful air pollutants.
Only 2% of the people we spoke to use 'wet' logs.
You can reduce the moisture content of freshly cut wood by drying or seasoning it. It’s best to store the wood in a dry place for at least a year, but preferably two. You can use a moisture meter to check how dry your wood is – these cost around £20.
For the best results, put the wood on a dry surface protected from rain. Leave the sides exposed to air and wind to speed up the drying process.
Chopping the wood down to size before storing it will also help it to dry more quickly. Alternatively, you can buy ready-seasoned wood at a little extra cost – see more about fuel prices below.
When we asked stove owners about the types of fuel they use most often, seasoned logs were most popular (54% use them), followed by kiln-dried logs (used by 44%).
Our participants told us:
We use seasoned or kiln-dried logs from a reputable local supplier.
The price of wood varies depending on where you live and the type of wood.
Wood is often sold in big bags by the cubic metre, or in smaller bags and nets in kilograms. It's sometimes also sold by the pallet.
To give you a rough idea of the cost of wood, we looked at prices across a number of online suppliers (in December 2021).
The prices for the logs are for a mix of softwoods (pine and fir, for example) and hardwoods, such as oak, ash, beech and birch.
All sites deliver across the UK. Prices for seasoned and kiln-dried logs don't include delivery, but the price for the wood pellets and briquettes do.
Because 500kg equates to around one cubic metre, working out how much wood will cost for the amount you'll use is a little tricky.
I live in a woodland village and my own garden provides a plentiful supply of wood. My trees are managed by a local tree surgeon.
It's sometimes possible to collect wood fuel free of charge from building sites, skips or local woods – a number of stove owners we asked do this.
But legally you don’t have a right to it, so it’s important to check first with the site or land owners that they’re happy for you to take it.
You should also ask whether the wood has been treated with chemicals – if it has, it could be unsafe to burn.
You can also buy freshly cut or 'wet' wood for around £100 per cubic metre, but you'll need to season this at home.
Some 17% of survey respondents say they they get their wood from neighbours/friends or gardens. It must still be dried out as much as possible first.
There are a number of different types of coal, all made in different ways. Smokeless coal the most popular (used by 19% in our survey) and house coal (used by 2%) are the main types.
House coal was banned from sale from May 2021. This is because it produces more emissions than smokeless coal, especially if the sulphur content is above 2%.
Smokeless fuel is an umbrella term for a few different types of fuel that often look like coal but produce less smoke as they burn. It includes anthracite coal, which occurs naturally, but can also be manufactured.
This means that smokeless coals can be made from a combination of elements, including anthracite coal, peat and other renewable materials, making them more eco-friendly and less polluting than house coal.
Looking at online suppliers (in December 2021), we checked for the average price of anthracite coal – which is naturally formed – and manufactured smokeless fuel.
For both types, you can buy 25kg bags individually, or in 10s and 20s, but they will be a little more expensive. These prices exclude delivery charges, which may vary depending on where you live.
If you choose the right stove, it should be fairly easy to maintain. But there are a few steps you should take to keep it working safely and efficiently and to reduce the level of pollution it will emit. Our guide to explains more on this.
If you burn wood or smokeless fuel, you should get your stove swept twice a year, at the beginning and end of the burning season. This ensures your stove will stay in good working order and avoids a build-up of tar and soot in your chimney, which could be a fire hazard. Blocked chimneys can also cause deadly carbon monoxide.
Make sure you use a qualified stove installer or chimney sweep to service your stove. One sweep should cost £50-£90.
You should also have your stove serviced annually. Pellet stoves have electrical working parts that need checking. This can cost around £200.
It’s also a good idea to clean out the ash from the ash pan and to clean the glass regularly. Keep in mind, though, that leaving a layer of ash can help to start a wood fire and keep it burning. So it's best to check the manufacturer's guide for specific instructions on how often to clean it out.
If your stove has airwash – a cool air vent that helps to stop tar building up on the glass – you may not need to clean the ash or glass as often. However, some members in our study said that this feature did not work well.
The airwash system doesn't appear to work on ours.
When cleaning out the stove, keep an eye out for:
These can all affect the stove’s performance and safety.
Depending on for how long you’ve had the stove, getting the affected part repaired or replaced if there are any problems might be covered in the manufacturer’s warranty (see below).
If you have children or pets, you might want to consider getting a fireguard to go around the stove. Also, it's worth having a bird guard fitted at the top of the chimney to stop birds nesting. This shouldn’t add a lot to the installation costs.
You should also install a carbon monoxide detector in the room where the stove will be. If you live in Scotland you will be legally obliged to have one from February 2022 onwards.
Carbon monoxide detectors only cost around £15 and monitor whether any carbon monoxide, which is tasteless, odourless and highly poisonous, is being expelled. Unfortunately, our tests have found models that won't protect you. See the best .
Most stove makers offer extended warranties or guarantees on their stoves. Some of these are around three to 10 years, but we have seen 25 years and even a lifetime guarantee. Each brand page within our details this.
Some only apply if you buy through a certain dealer or register the stove on the manufacturer's website. Registering any safety appliance with the manufacturer is also useful if there is ever a recall or issue identified with the model.
Usually, if you get a repair or replace a part of a stove via a third party and not the official channel, it will invalidate any guarantee or warranty. For many of the brands we looked at, you can buy spares through their websites.
Warranties or guarantees may also only be valid if you get your stove serviced regularly, which we recommend anyway. Check the terms and conditions to confirm this.
However, your consumer rights under the Consumer Rights Act mean that if you have a problem within the first year, you're covered anyway.
If a fault develops after that, you can still claim, but it will be down to you to prove the fault was present at the time of purchase. Read our full guide to to learn more and to use our template letters.
If you have faulty goods, you should always complain to the retailer you bought it from – your contract is with the retailer. Your consumer rights always sit with the retailer, and the warranty/guarantee is with the manufacturer.
*October 2021 survey of 1,375 Which? members who have bought a stove in the past 10 years. Which? also conducted an online qualitative study with 15 members of its own panel who have bought a wood burning or multi fuel stove in the past three years.