Energy efficiency

In the average UK home heating makes up 73 per cent of the C02 emissions so this is one of the places where significant emission and cost savings can be made.

You may well be considering powering your central heating and hot water with a wood burning boiler stove in order to reduce your contribution to climate change. Firewood is a very low carbon fuel - the only nett carbon increase from burning sustainably sourced wood is the carbon released as a result of the processing and transport of the firewood, not the actual act of burning.

Use less energy in the first place: insulate

If you are serious about reducing your contribution to climate change then the first changes to make are ones that mean that you need to use less resources in the first place.

Reducing the energy used on heating

House insulation

In the case of central heating insulation is the first and most effective change that you can make. By insulating your house very well you will reduce the amount of heating needed: you will be able to turn your heating on later and turn it off earlier in the year, and when it is on you will be wasting less and so you will not need to use as much. This makes monetary sense as well as you will not need to buy as much firewood (or use as much effort collecting it if you gather your own). The best places to start are with loft and wall insulation which will require some outlay but are very cost effective and then draught proofing your windows and doors which is very cheap indeed and can have good results.

Turn the heating down

There is the classic advice of "turning your heating down a bit" which is so often given - because it makes such good sense and is very easy.

Conserving hot water

Improved insulation (lagging) for your hot water tank and hot water pipes Insulating pipes and water tanks is known as lagging. To conserve hot water lag the hot water pipes running through your house. If you have a hot water tank make sure it is well lagged - you might consider adding extra lagging around the tank if possible.

Baths vs showers

In the case of hot water use you can of course have less baths - a bath will use a lot of hot water compared to a shower. I imagine you know that already.

Reach for the cold tap first

If you are performing a quick task at a sink like washing your hands, or rinsing something then use the cold tap instead of the hot. If you use the hot tap then the water will probably only start getting hot by the time you come to turn off the tap, but of course the hot water is now sitting it the pipework wasting heat and if you have a hot water tank then the tank will have had a fresh influx of cold water as a result which will cool down the water.
So try to get into the habit of reaching for the cold tap first.

Washing up

If you are washing up then using a bowl can sometimes mean that you can use less water, do not run the hot tap continuously. The best rated dishwashers will generally use much less water than hand washing (15lts or less), but if you do get one try to make sure that the one you buy has a hot water feed so that the water does not have to be heated with electricity.

Increasing the efficiency of your wood boiler stove

Wood burns most efficiently once the firebox of the stove is very hot - at or above 300-400 degrees. The problem with many wood boiler stoves is of course that the boiler forms some of the walls of the firebox. Because the boiler contains water it will always be colder than the plain metal parts inside the firebox and so will take heat from the fire, That is the whole point of the boiler in the first place, but the colder the water in the boiler the colder the firebox and hence the less efficient the fire will burn. As the water in the boiler heats up the efficiency of the fire improves. So if you can make sure that the water in the boiler heats up fast and stays hot you improve the efficiency of the stove.
The are various controller units combined with valves and pumps that achieve this, one is the Heating Innovations panel and the other is the Laddomat heat charger. There are also ways in which you can set up your heating system so as not to put the full heat drain on your stove until the water has reached a certain temperature.