Over the past few years log burners have become one of the go-to additions in living rooms and living spaces up and down the country.
There are two main reasons for this. They look great and they’re highly effective at creating a nice, warm home during the colder weather.
Despite these clear positive, are log burners cheap to run? This is a question that isn’t as clear cut from an initial look.
The short answer is yes. Compared to electric heaters and traditional gas central heating, the running costs of wood-burning stoves are less expensive.
In fact, as of November 2022, wood is one of the cheapest domestic fuels available in the UK.
In this article, we’ll discuss everything you need to know about running a log burner.
Why are log burners cheaper to run than other heating systems?
Millions of people have seen a significant increase in their monthly bills this year. It’s thought that 2023 won’t be much better either.
It’s a trend being seen across America as well as the UK.
The reason monthly bills are increasing is because the central heating in most households tends to come from natural gas. As you know, the supply of natural gas from the likes of Russia and the Middle East has been severely impacted. Electricity prices have also shot up as most electricity is still generated from fossil fuels. A significant proportion of crude oil for the UK also comes from Russia.
As the name suggests, wood burning stoves run on wood. With wood being a natural product available everywhere, the supply is almost guaranteed. It’s this which is making log burners now cheaper to run than other heating systems.
How much do log burners cost to run then?
The average price for 1 cubic metre of kiln dried fire wood is between £120-£140.
According to the Stove Industry Alliance, the average log burner will go through around 3.5 cubic metres of wood during the colder months between October and April.
At the higher end, this equates to around £500 in wood fuel costs to run your log burner for roughly 7 months.
This is significantly cheaper than what you’ll pay for gas and electric from the mains grid to supply the same heat.
According to the SIA, seasoned wood logs are now the cheapest form of domestic fuel.
Research suggests that seasoned wood logs costs 74% less per kilowatt hour than electric heating and 21% less than gas heating.
Factors that impact the cost of log burners?
Firstly, there are the upfront costs.
Log burners might not be as expensive as you think. You can buy a brand new wood burner for as little as £500. At the top end you will spend a few grand. It’s also possible to pick up good second hand log burners online too.
The amount of money you can save in running costs depends on a few key points. For instance, if you can source your own supply of firewood yourself, then a wood burning stove is a great choice.
However, if you have to buy wood from a supplier you have to add that to your budget. Buying wood can get expensive, but it depends how often you have your log burner on for if it works out cheaper than a mains gas boiler.
That said, here are a few things that affect the cost of log burners:
How you intend to use your wood stove can affect the money you can save. For example, if you want to heat your whole house, you might need two or three wood-burning stoves in different rooms.
Although modern log burners are much more efficient, their heating capacity depends on the output of kilowatts (kW) they emit. On average, wood-burning stoves can generate anywhere between 3kW and 12 kW.
A big log burner may be enough to heat your whole downstairs. An excellent way to improve the efficiency of a burner is to use a stove top fan to push out the heat effectively.
Log-burning stoves are an excellent renewable energy alternative to fossil fuels. As the name implies, log burners run on wood in the form of logs or even pellets. You can also get multifuel stoves, which can use other fuel sources, as well as wood, including biomass blocks, heat logs, smokeless coal and even coffee logs.
However, wood supply isn’t as simple as collecting broken off branches and deadwood from your local woodland. It is possible to collect wood yourself but you need to make sure it’s been left to dry out for at least a year so the moisture content can drop.
There are many companies that now deliver firewood right to your door. Plus, you can save more by buying in bulk. This way, you’ll have a consistent supply throughout the cold months. One of my favourite suppliers is Lektowood Fuels.
Another factor that can affect how much money you can save is the type of wood you use for your log burners. Typically, hardwoods are more recommended than softwood because hardwoods are denser. They also burn longer.
Unfortunately, hardwoods are more pricey than softwoods. Some excellent hardwoods include oak, ash, beech and birch.
In addition, you need to keep the wood dry. As a result, you have to keep them somewhere undercover, where they’re raised off the ground to prevent them from rotting.
It’s thought you’ll need around 1 tonne plus of wood per year to run as your central heating system. Some people are now using biomass boilers for their heating.
Aside from the day to day running costs, maintaining a log burner can also contribute to the financial situation. Although many are left to it for years and years, a good log burner will need regular maintenance. It also helps improve stove efficiency.
Keep in mind that you should give your log burner a deep clean at least once a year, depending on how often you use them, to keep it in good nick. It’s a job not many people like to do, a bit like cleaning the oven. But you can hire professionals to do this for you.
You should clean the stove glass much more frequently than this!
Finally, you may need to replace parts or components every so often so your stove continues to run smoothly.
Wrapping up on log burner running costs
So, are log burners cheap to run?
Yes, they are. Especially when compared to the alternatives of gas and electric heating.
However, you should bear in mind that the amount of money you save depends on the heating capacity, the type of wood you choose for the stove, the storage and the wood supply.
You may also have the environment in mind. Log burners can be environmentally neutral if you use an Ecodesign ready stove and purchase wood from sustainable sources.
- 15 Best Small Wood Burning Stoves
- Best Places To Buy A Second Hand Log Burner
- Why You Need A Log Burner Stove Fan To Improve Efficiency
Ben is the Creator and Editor of Tiny Eco Home Life. I write and publish information about more sustainable, environmentally friendly living in and around the home.
Alongside this website, I love spending time in the natural world, living a simple life and spending time with my young family (Murphy the dog!) I round up my thoughts and recent blogs on the Eco Life Newsletter.