log-burning stoves

Why I chose an electric wood-burner…

Electric wood-burning stove versus a real log-burner

As the Mayor of London considers banning wood-burners in some areas, a look at why I chose an electric log-burning stove over the real thing… 

A confession: I absolutely adore everything about real wood-burning stoves. I love the licking flames of a real fire and I adore the look of log-burning stoves. From contemporary stoves to the more traditional log-burner in an inglenook fireplace. For me, a pretty stove is often the heart of the home and makes any room cosy.

So when my husband and I were updating our real fireplace a couple of years, I originally planned on having this real fire of my dreams.

Budget wasn’t an issue – we had set a few thousand aside to transform our living room fireplace. And that room had a working chimney which would be perfect for a wood-burner.

We visited several showrooms and I researched log-burning stoves online with the idea of purchasing a real fire.

However, it was during that research that I came across numerous articles such as this one in the British Medical Journal about the health issues of wood-burning stoves – indeed any real fire. I have to say my husband had already raised health problems as an issue for him. While he adores natural products – he owns a construction company undertaking many high spec projects – he was concerned about burning wood and the pollution it causes.

He also did not accept the wood-burning industries claims that stoves can be carbon neutral or ‘environmentally friendly’ as they are marketed as keeping them going involves chopping down trees and transporting the logs.

We were both put off by the work involved with a wood-burner. We lead busy lives. Did we have time to be lighting this fire and clearing out sooty ashes?  There was also the expense of buying logs and practically storing them in a dry place. Someone (probably me!) would have to get those logs in the middle of winter and bring them in.

The guy in the showroom (which showcased and sold mostly real wood-burning stoves) was honest. He’d just got rid of his real wood-burning stove as he couldn’t be bothered after a hard day at work to get it going. He confessed it had become such a hassle, he only used it at weekends. So he’d replaced it with a gas stove.

We would also need to have the chimney and fire regularly serviced, maintained and clean. We would need a carbon monoxide detector and with a real fire there was always a theoretical risk of starting a fire in our home.

Our house is centrally heated – a number of people said one problem was the heat a log-burner produces, which can make a sitting room unbearably hot.  Obviously you couldn’t have just the look of the fire without the heat. It would need to be truly cold for us to light this stove – frankly it is never that cold in our house.

We began looking at alternatives to a real log-burning stove and were struck by how effective the electric stoves are these days. All we had to do was plug it in. An electric wood-burner means at the click of a switch we could have the glow of a fire immediately without all the hassle (even on a summer evening). If we do need heat our little stove chucks it out – but we can simply switch the heat off and have the glow on its own.

As well as an electric stove in our living room, we also have another electric stove in our smaller TV snug.  With no worries about log deliveries, maintaining chimneys or health issues, it was a no brainer.  I do still love the idea of a real wood-burner but for me the cons outweighed all the romantic notions of having that real fire.

Alison Smith-Squire

Alison Smith-Squire is a writer, journalist and media agent selling exclusive real life stories to newspapers, magazines and TV. She owns the sell my story website Featureworld.co.uk, which was set up to help ordinary people sell their stories to the press.

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