Stoves: a hot way to save just in time for winter
They will cost a little over a grand to buy and install but, with annual savings of €200 on fuel and greater heat, more and more people are warming to stoves, writes CONOR POPE
BE STILL YOUR beating heart, it’s National Heat Week. Now, before you rush out and buy a copy of a popular magazine groaning under the weight of the Kate Middleton and Rhianna pictures contained within its high gloss covers, we’re not talking about that kind of heat but the kind that will warm your homes and your bones on all those cold winter days which are stretching out ahead of us.
National Heat Week, sponsored by Waterford Stanley, aims to promote home-heating efficiency and the key message this year is stoves are good.
It is a message many of us would do well to heed. In the weeks ahead, gas prices are going up by as much as 9 per cent while electricity prices will increase by around 5 per cent.
This year’s price increases come on the back of even more savage price increases last year and all told Irish consumers who want to heat and light their homes using conventional methods this year will be worse off to the tune of €200 when compared with 2010.
There is no sign that energy prices are going to fall in the months ahead and this may be where stoves come in.
According to independent heating and energy expert Seamus Brennan, stoves are up to three times more energy efficient than open fires and keep houses warmer even when not in operation due to the reduction in ventilation heat losses.
“Typically, more than 70 per cent of the heat from an open fire goes up the chimney, while a stove retains as much as 76 per cent of heat in the room, saving both fuel and money,” he says.
Replacing an open fire with an efficient stove can reduce the household energy consumption by 8 to 10 per cent. Given that we spend around €2,000 on heat, light and hot water, that could see a person’s fuel bill fall by €200 a year.
They also look pretty, um, cool, and while the high-end Aga may be beyond the reach of many in these very cash-strapped times, more modest – but still very functional – options can be bought and installed for little more than €1,000.
Unsurprisingly, Owen Power, Waterford Stanley’s commercial director, is a fan and he is very good at the hard sell.
He says that in an era of rising fuel prices, households are being forced to re-evaluate their heating costs and are shopping around for affordable, energy efficient alternatives like never before.
“Our customers tell us that their Stanley is more than just a money-saver. It radiates a comfortable and controllable heat, and by reducing reliance on oil or gas, fuel budgeting becomes easier, as fuel can be purchased as needed.”
He says an average household switching to a stove could almost halve their coal consumption, making a saving of up to €200 over six months.
The message appears to be getting through and over 300,000 homes in Ireland now have stoves while Waterford Stanley has seen stove sales increase dramatically over the last two years.
Donald Moore is a recent convert. He lives in Blackrock, Co Dublin and switched from an open fire to a stove last year. He describes it as the best investment he has ever made. He says his home is warmer and he saved about €200 on fuel between last October and last March.
Listening to him talk about his stove, it is hard not to be convinced. He says it is more affordable, more comfortable, retains heat even when turned off and is much cleaner than an open fire.
“The whole thing cost me €1,250 and that included installation – I had a voucher so got €200 off that price. I reckon that within six years I will have my money back,” he says.
“I can’t really think of any disadvantages to it. The glass can get a little black and sooty sometimes, but that is easy to clean up. I am certain it was a good investment but it is not just about the money. It is also cleaner because it is enclosed and you don’t get so much dust in the room and you have much greater control because you can use the dampeners to turn it down and so burn less fuel.”
But the key thing for many people will not be the price or even the control but the look? How does it compare to an open fire? “Ah, I think it’s lovely and cosy,” he says.