The case for increased use of wood stoves in South Africa

The Infiniti Fires 18Kw Double Sided Wood Stove.

Historically, South African homes were designed for summer conditions, with large open-plan living areas. Typically, they were badly insulated and had lots of floor tiles. In effect, a home requires a lot of energy to maintain at a comfortable temperature during winter. Newer homes have embraced better construction techniques and are more thermally efficient, but still feature open-plan living spaces. These large spaces need a powerful heater to warm them in the winter months.

Wood stoves have steel or cast iron sides and a glass door that enclose the fire. Heat output is controlled by adjustable air vents (in a similar fashion to an accelerator pedal controlling speed in a car). They are easy to light, produce lots of heat with minimal wood consumption, have a great flame pattern to sit around and enjoy, and are ideal at heating large open-plan living areas. They have become very popular across the world as a means of home heating.

COST BENEFIT TO THE HOMEOWNER

In a home of about 250m² you will use about 80 to 100 KwHrs of energy to heat your home on a cold winter’s night. Over a typical three-month South African winter, this totals about 10 000 KwHrs.

Annual home heating costs will be about:
Electrical Heating R20 000 pa
Efficient Wood Stove R4 500 pa
A home owner will recover the cost of an installed wood stove in about two years of fuel savings, and thereafter they have the benefit of cost-effective space heating into the future.

ENVIRONMETAL CONSIDERATIONS

When wood is burnt at high temperature, it releases less emissions into the atmosphere than if the wood had been left to rot in the forest. SA is a country dedicated to eradicating alien trees. Instead of letting these alien trees rot on the ground, why not burn them in wood stoves, heat homes and do good for the environment?

Installing a wood stove to heat your home – instead of using electricity – will decrease Eskom’s demand for coal by about four tons per year. This means less coal smoke into the atmosphere and a huge reduction in electricity demand in winter. If enough wood stoves are installed, it should reduce the impact of load shedding in winter.

VIEW WOOD STOVES

In addition to coal consumption, power stations consume water. Less power demand, less water consumed. In a water-scarce country, this is surely as important a consideration as power availability and air quality.

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