One of the most eco-friendly methods of heating your home has to be by using wood as a preferred source of fuel and few other countries are as well stocked with this commodity as France.
The majority of most modern wood-burning appliances are as eco-friendly as they come when burning well seasoned ‘hard’ wood such as oak, ash and beech. They are nearly as efficient as some gas and oil burning appliances and nearly as controllable too. Wood-burners can be used to heat the smallest of cottages or largest of cathedrals so if you haven’t bought yourself one of them already but are thinking of doing so soon, take a look at our eco friendly ‘quick fire’ wood-burning guide to help you decide.
BURN DRY WOOD It’s obvious really but you’d be surprised how many people get this bit wrong. The key thing to remember is to only burn dry well seasoned wood. Typically, this means that your supply should be at least two years old, but how do you know how well seasoned it is and is your wood supplier telling you the truth about the quality of his supply? The answer is to buy yourself a moisture meter which can quickly and easily tell you how damp your wood supply is and leave you in no doubt as to whether it is ready to burn or not. Some manufacturers and dealers include these handy gadgets free with their stoves and if you’re unsure about the quality of your wood or the honesty of your woodman then they are definitely a worthwhile investment.
GET SOME MONEY BACK Decent wood-burners are expensive but buying one that is efficient and having it installed can save you hundreds if not thousands of Euros. Did you know that you could benefit from a reduced rate of VAT (5.5% instead of the usual 20%) as well as be entitled to a tax credit of 25% OFF the cost of the stove when you have it installed? You don’t need to be a tax resident either and as long as the property where you have the stove fitted is you main residence then you will benefit. Speak to your stove specialist or heating engineer who will advise you on the best buys out there which are eligible for the tax credit money back scheme (crédit d’impôt).
CHOOSING A WOOD BURNER This may sound ridiculous but did you know that a dedicated wood burning stove is more than 50% efficient at burning wood than a multi-fuel stove? Many manufacturers design their ‘wood-burners’ with a grill and an ash pan inside which is effectively makes them a coal burning wood-burner! This is ridiculous and these stoves are confusingly called multi-fuel stoves that are mainly designed to burn coal, anthracite and other multi-fuels. These are not as eco- friendly as they first seem and some manufacturers of these so called eco-friendly stoves conveniently describe coal and anthracite, etc. as ‘convenience’ fuels when all they are trying to do is make their stoves appeal to a non eco -friendly market that cannot burn wood! There are no such things as ‘smokeless zones’ in rural France and so there is no excuse not to burn wood either so do yourself a favour and demand a more efficient dedicated wood-burning only model when you purchase your next stove.
AREN’T WOODBURNERS EXPENSIVE IN FRANCE? If you buy a wood-burner from a proper dealer and have it fitted then you’ll save 15% on VAT alone in France if your home is more than two years old. You do not need to be a resident in France to qualify. Even if you own more than one property here or several gîtes you will still get the reduction. Add to this the 25% tax credit if your property in France is your main residence and that’s 40% OFF the total cost! I know we’ve mentioned this already but it’s worth saying it again as some people don’t get it the first time around. Why some of us bother lugging these heavy lumps of cast-iron over from the UK when we qualify for the rebate in France is beyond comprehension. Get a dealer to do that for you instead and your stove will still work out cheaper if you planned to have it fitted properly and safely like most of the sensible amongst us do.
WHAT ABOUT CENTRAL HEATIING Don’t just heat your lounge or kitchen with a wood-burner. Have it connected to your radiators and heat the whole house! With the price of oil going up all the time why bother continuing to run a big oil burning boiler that’s as eco-friendly as a US car manufacturer? Many decent wood-burners come with back boilers or can have them fitted later. Some can heat over twenty radiators (around 36kW+) which is usually more than enough for most properties in France and the rest of the world, so speak to a stove dealer (there are loads of them here in France) who can advise what’s best for you!
If you’re really serious about being eco-friendly or just want to heat your home using the cheapest source of fuel available like most of us, you could do a lot worse than buying yourself a modern and efficient wood-burning only stove that will last for decades as well as doing a bit for the environment at the same time.