There is a distorted wealth of misinformation being spread surrounding the environmental impact of home stoves and Maeve Gilmore of Fairgreen Stoves in Ennis refuses it saying both energy and cost savings are to be made.
Now more than ever, we find ourselves perched propitiously by the fireside, brandishing our favourite liquid refreshment in hand, lucidly languishing in the throes of streaming services available at the touch of the button. For many, this means maintaining one’s stove correctly. Maeve Gilmore talks us through essential stove maintenance, the fallacy of fuel quality and the beginner’s blueprint, lighting that sucker up.
We’ve all seen the ads on television, carbon monoxide is a silent killer. Maeve marks this as a stalwart reminder, “It is recommended that you clean your chimney once a year. This is to ensure that the chimney is in a usable condition and there are no blockages being formed by soot, birds or even paper which can be sucked up into the chimney in many instances. Blockages in the chimney heighten the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning, through a subsequent reduction in the flue opening. The flue allows for exhaust gases to escape from a chimney. Serious illness can be caused when the levels of carbon monoxide rise to an unsafe level. It is imperative that this is monitored annually in every household.”
Following on from this first port of call is stove maintenance. When you first receive your stove, it comes out of the box airtight, adjustable through air controls or dampers which restrict air flow, giving the homeowner agency over the potency of the fire within the stove. A controlled fire is achieved through the careful manipulation of the air controls, closing them when the fire is nice and hot, to maintain a controlled fire, which pushes heat into the room. Physical maintenance of your stove comes into play here also. Hard and worn ropes let excessive air in, incrementally causing damage to the structure of your stove. Nuts and bolts must also be tightened regularly to avoid a loose stove, which consequently burns through an enormous amount of fuel, damaging the stove in the process.
Maeve would like to let everyone in on a little secret within the industry, the fallacy of fuel quality. Wet fuel is the chink in the armour of the utopian stove owner’s world. Many retail outlets purport to sell upmarket, energy efficient timber. Maeve seems to believe otherwise. Wet fuel causes black glass, incidentally, leading to corrosion within the stove and chimney.
“Fifteen percent and under is an optimum level of moisture within timber. Even a small increase of five percent can cause a huge reduction in output kilowatts. When wet timber meets a fire, it cools the fire and causes black glass. The energy within the fire is used up drying the timber, leaving very little room for heat. If you burn dry fuel, you will burn half the amount of fuel and get twice the amount of heat.”
Moisture meters are an essential item to be found in every stove owners toolbox. Dismissing the moisture level of the timber you purchase decreases the overall quality of your stove, inconspicuously burning a small hole in your pocket. Maeve recommends careful consideration when perusing locally for fuel, lauding the use of the much-overlooked moisture meter.
“When lighting your stove, take your time. Start with dry kindling (Under fifteen percent) and burn for ten minutes. Next, put in two small pieces of timber, burn for ten minutes. Following this, add two large pieces of timber, burning for a further ten minutes. This process gives time for the chimney to heat up. It increases the draft in the chimney and reduces the risk of smoke in the room. Simply put, a hot chimney creates draught, draught creates fire and fire creates heat. When you have the red glow, turn the air controls down to control the burn rate. This pushes heat into the room, not up the chimney.”
Trusting and verifying your sources is central to any new homeowner and Maeve feels that the benefits of a stove within the household, far outweighs the costs and negative connotations expounded by the media in recent months. The purchase of a stove is in the economic and environmental interest of every homeowner and community. Armed to the teeth with this new information, Maeve hopes that people will make the right choice, for themselves and for mother nature.