Charles and Paula Morris Halve Their Fuel Costs with a
Charles and Paula Morris moved to East Devon from Harpenden in Hertfordshire,
having both had busy careers in management accountancy and public relations
respectively. The couple had decided to retire and moved to Devon in 1996 to
adopt a different lifestyle and moved into their property, a two bedroom, 16th
century cob walled cottage in a village setting.
When Charles and Paula moved into their home, it had gas central heating in
some areas, which also provided hot water and gas to cook on and there was an
old wood burning stove in their lounge, fitted into an inglenook fireplace. With no
heating at all in some areas of the house, they found that the house was always
cold in the winter. The central heating only really provided background heat and
the aging wood burner in the lounge consumed logs at an alarming rate and
didn’t give out enough heat.
The stove had not been serviced in years and its window had become so
encrusted with soot and tar that it was almost impossible to see the flames,
unless the doors were open, which sacrificed heat. Having tried to get the most
out of the old inefficient stove, Charles and Paula just assumed that woodburning
would never really give them enough heat.
This can often be the case with old stoves that have not been maintained well or
which have been used to burn treated or green wood with a high moisture
content. As the moisture is burnt off, it leaves tar residue in the inner workings
and, over time, reduces the heat output into the room. At worst it can ruin the
stove and, at best, it will quickly turn the window black. More importantly, the
efficiency of the stove will be diminished, the levels of heat it can generate will be
reduced and it will be more expensive to run.
In 2001 the couple extended the house, adding a conservatory with a glass roof,
and, after suffering the cold in winter, they wanted to ensure that they had
enough heat so they could use the space as a living area and sun room. They
contacted local dealer Faraday Heating Ltd who conducted a site inspection in
order to determine the right solution to their heating needs.
Faraday suggested that a wood burning and multi-fuel stove may suit their needs
and would work out cheaper and less disruptive than adding a radiator to the
central heating. After reviewing a few models, they chose a Stovax Stockton 6,
which, at 6kW heat output, was the perfect capacity for the size of the sun room.
They also found that the technology had moved on considerably since the old
stove in the lounge had been fitted. With up to 85% efficiencies, they were
amazed at how much more heat a relatively small stove could produce, whilst
also consuming fewer logs and costing less to run.
The stove was installed as suitable for burning logs only, as Charles and Paula
have an abundant supply from local farmers, either “two fields to the left, or two
fields to the right”. However, the simple addition of a grate can enable the stove
to run on e-coal, smokeless fuels and peat/turf briquettes, giving them flexibility
should their fuel needs change in the future.
By 2003, Charles and Paula were so pleased with the amount of heat from the
stove in their sun room, that they decided to add two more stoves to their home.
As there was no other source of heating in the master bedroom, it often became
very cold and so they installed a 4kW Stovax Stockton 4.
It was also curtains for the lounge’s stove and, which was replaced with a
modern, high efficiency 8kW Stockton 8. Since installed, they have used the
stove as the only source of heat in the lounge, and have had ample amounts of
warmth - despite this year’s very cold winter.
After having used the stove for a while, they found that they really loved looking
at the mesmerising flames and the type of heat that you get with wood. They
have discovered that wood with a 20% moisture content give the cleanest burn
and the most heat and also really took to the annual cycle of the lifestyle choice
of heating with wood;
“Heating with logs warms you four times. When the farmer delivers a load of logs,
you get warm from shifting them into your wood store, you get warmth from
chopping the logs, you get warm from moving them inside when they are dry
enough and you get warm from the heat when they burn” explains Paula Morris.
The couple were also surprised that very little smoke appeared from their
chimney. Stovax’s Stockton range features a Cleanburn system, which injects a
stream of pre-heated air into the stove at the top of the firebox and combusts the
hydrocarbons in the smoke. This emits far less smoke and less pollution in the
atmosphere and enables DEFRA approved Cleanburn stoves to burn logs in
London and other Smoke Control Areas. It also helps keep the window clean,
giving a great flame picture and avoids the build up of tar in the stove.
This is also part of the reason for high efficiencies of up to 85%, compared with
around 15% for a typical open fireplace. This means that for every £1 spent on
logs, that 85p is heating the room that the stove is in, rather than being lost up
the chimney, which can also draw heat from the room when the fire is not lit.
They also found that they could use the flat top to boil water or even to cook rice
pudding! Placing a bottle of red wine on top of the stove, raised just a couple of
inches on a metal stand, also helped it to breathe and brought it to a perfect
During the winter of 2008, one of the coldest since 1947, where fuel prices have
seen a huge increase, Charles and Paula have managed to use their three stoves
as the only source of heat in the areas that they were installed in. This meant less
reliance on the central heating, which they now only use for cooking and hot
water and enabled them to keep both the credit crunch and the cold weather out.
“Had we relied completely on the central heating to provide warmth, domestic hot
water and our cooking needs, we would currently be paying in the region of
£1,400. With our 3 Stovax Stockton’s providing the majority of our heat, the only
source of heat in some areas, we pay around £350 for a year’s supply of wood
and our cooking and hot water needs then only cost us £300 a year.” says