Wood heating returns to success
Man has controlled and heated himself with fire for at least 450,000 years. Until the 20th century, wood remained a key fuel for heating, before losing ground to coal derivatives and heating oil, natural gas, electricity or sunlight recent decades. Having become an extra or simply decorative element for the lucky ones equipped with a fireplace, wood heating has come back in force in recent years, for aesthetic reasons, but also economic ones. And, contrary to what one might imagine, it is also an ecological heating method.
Wood heating, ecological and economical
The combustion of wood necessarily releases particles into the air, but their harmfulness depends on the combustion of wood. If this is incomplete, the smoke emissions contain carbon monoxide, which is dangerous for the body. The whole issue of heating devices (boilers, stoves, etc.) thus consists in making the combustion of wood as complete as possible, in order to limit the emission of harmful particles as much as possible. For several years there has been a "Green Flame" label, created by the Environment and Energy Management Agency, rewarding the best devices. To obtain this label, the particle emission rate must be less than 90 mg / Nm3; some devices do not even exceed 40 mg / Nm3.
In addition to being much less polluting than gas and fuel oil if its combustion is controlled, wood constitutes a renewable energy when it comes from sustainably managed forests. The exploitation of resources is regulated there in favor of a sustainable development, which makes it possible to maintain healthy forest environments - and to avoid natural disasters such as the storm of 1999. Prices vary according to the species (oak constitutes the top of the range) and the shape of the wood (logs, pellets, etc.), but remain very competitive compared to gas, fuel oil and electricity, two to five times more expensive. Only solar energy is better than wood by being free, but it is certainly still necessary to make the installation of solar panels profitable beforehand.
The trend for high-tech and designer stoves
Wood heating covers several possibilities, depending on the central or auxiliary heating mode. The technical characteristics have seriously evolved since the large open fireplaces, certainly romantic, but highly oxygen-consuming and polluting. The trend is now towards aesthetic stoves whose design adapts to the decoration of the house, in all imaginable shapes, rounded, square or all in height.
Particularly sophisticated, these stoves are covered with ceramic and made airtight (without aspiration of the air inside the house). Some devices even have sophisticated self-fueling systems in the form of wood pellets, or even a 360 ° rotating platform. Thanks to this “smart” heating, energy savings are real, as is the reduction in the heating bill. However, you have to put the price at the time of purchase, from 500 euros at the entry level up to more than 4000 euros for the most personalized stoves.
Faced with the recent craze for wood heating, the state launched a series of financial aid to boost the momentum. For the past year, the most ecological wood-burning equipment has benefited from a 30% tax credit in 2015, and VAT reduced to 10%; open chimneys, potentially very polluting, are not included in these measures. Since 2013, there has also been an Energy Saving bonus, little known to owners, which nevertheless allows substantial savings on energy work. Depending on the types of work carried out, “energy bonuses” may be granted in the form of checks in euros, in exchange for the work invoice.
The other major boost from the state concerns an Eco loan at zero rate for wood heating. Like other free loans granted by the State, this device is intended to promote ecological work within main homes, to improve the energy consumption of buildings over 25 years old (built before 1 January 1990 ). This Eco loan is granted without limitation of resources, but the installation work must imperatively be carried out by a company or a craftsman having the mention RGE (Recognized Guarantor of the Environment).