Comparing the cost of running a woodburner with the price of oil, gas and electricity in 2019

Price is a major factor for many people when they are considering buying a woodburner.

Yes, there is significant outlay in order to buy and install your stove, but will it save your money in the long-term?

To answer that we need to look at running costs in comparison to other forms of heating, which is easier said than done for a few reasons…

1. Different units of heat measurement
Different forms of heating use different units of measurements to track the amount of energy generated and how much it costs you. BTU, litres, therms, kWh and cubic metres are just a handful of units you come against. It means a like-for-like comparison is difficult to achieve.

2. Differences in use
The price of electricity might differ slightly between different utility companies, but its efficiency is the same for all of us when we put the power on. Not so for wood. Various factors can have an impact on the efficiency and therefore the cost to us.

This includes:

  • Moisture content. Whether or not the logs have been seasoned correctly.
  • Stove use. Whether you’re operating the stove efficiently, with an acceptable amount of fuel and oxygen allowed into the appliance when it’s in use.
  • Wood type. Different types of wood burn in different ways, so buying a kilo of one type of logs might provide far more heat or last far longer than a kilo of another wood type.

3. Price fluctuations
Prices for many heating types are closely tied to the global costs of oil and gas, which means they are liable to change at short notice.

Putting all those things to one side, we have tried to put together some information that does the best possible job of comparing the cost of running a woodburner with the price of oil, gas and electricity.

Here are some average prices for popular forms of heating:

 

Fuel Cost (pence/kWh)
Gas

5.09

Oil

5.62

Coal

5.41

Smokeless Fuel

8.10

Seasoned Wood

5.80

Electricity

20.67

Based on those figures, wood is comparable to most form of central heating and significantly cheaper than electricity. But wood has a few tricks up its sleeve when you consider…

Free wood = free energy
This price is based on buying logs. If you can source yours for free, you immediately bring your running costs down to zero.

Unseasoned logs are cheaper
The price featured is for buying seasoned logs. You should only burn seasoned logs on your woodburner, but you could opt to buy unseasoned wood then stack it and leave it to season over a period of several months or longer. A moisture meter will help you check your logs are seasoned sufficiently to burn.

You get energy independence
As mentioned above, most forms of heating are subject to the vagaries of the international energy market. With wood, any costs are local and you can make yourself completely independent of even that by sourcing free wood.

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So, the question of whether a woodburner saves you money on your heating is dependent on what you’re burning, where/if you’re buying the logs and how you’re burning them. With cheap or free wood and careful operation of your stove, the costs should compare very favourably with other types of heating. Follow these tips to operate your woodburner efficiently.

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