The chimneys live their hottest moment |  Business

The chimneys live their hottest moment | Business

The fear of the energy bill and the search for the cheapest fuel for this winter explain the substantial increase in the purchase of wood-burning fireplaces. “Demand will grow by around 40% this year compared to 2021. Only in the months of September and October have purchases doubled compared to a normal year”, according to the Spanish Association of Manufacturers of Stoves, Fireplaces and Kitchens for Solid Fuels (AEFECC).

This year they have ceased to be a mere decorative element to become the most accessible and cheapest option for heating the house, since it allows savings on the bill of around 75% compared to electrical or combustion equipment. “The increase in demand is a reflection of the behavior of the Spanish in the face of the increase in the price of gas and electricity and the fear of losing comfort in their home during the coldest months of the year due to the energy crisis that we are going through” , they point out in Habitissimo. In this platform of works and reforms, there has been an increase in the request for the installation of chimneys since July, with an interannual growth of 49.2%. In the Leroy Merlin centers they assure that the demand for wood stoves has grown by 55% since September compared to the same period last year.

The boom has not only occurred in Spain. “In the rest of the European countries, sales have grown due to fear of shortages in the gas supply,” says Carlos Oliván, president of the AEFECC.

Wood has also become more expensive, although not more than 20% this year, according to the association. In any case, nothing comparable to the escalation in the prices of gas, electricity or even pellets —the latter is 67% more expensive than last year—, registers the OCU. “Last year a kilo of firewood cost 17 or 18 euro cents and now it is sold for approximately 21 cents, depending on the geographical area,” says Oliván. In addition, VAT has dropped from 21% to 5%.

Another important issue with regard to savings is that from January 1, 2022 all new fireplaces manufactured must be closed to improve their energy performance by mandate of the new European Ecodesign directive. The fact that they are glazed guarantees “an efficiency of around 80%”, they point out in Focus, a company of French origin and manufacturer of the iconic 360-degree suspended and pivoting stoves. In addition, its use and handling is safer and it is about avoiding the excessive emission of polluting gases.

Depending on the surface to be heated and the size of the device, the fireplace can be a single heating system or support another main one (gas, electric…), that is, it helps to increase the temperature and comfort of the house. without touching the thermostat and saving money. “It is important to choose a location that makes it easier for the heat to be distributed as evenly as possible throughout the room,” they say in Habitissimo. And combined systems are increasingly in demand, so that the heat generated by the wood stove is distributed throughout the house through the radiator circuit or underfloor heating. Whether independent or mixed, it must be borne in mind that a wood-burning fireplace is more uncomfortable than gas or electric heating as it requires buying the logs, storing them, cleaning the stove, although at least this year the economic savings seem to compensate.

The main client of these teams continues to be the owners of single-family homes, says Oliván. The installation in flats is much more limited by municipal urban ordinances, by strict construction requirements and by the agreement of the neighbors. Wood-burning fireplaces, whose prices start at 600 euros and can reach several thousand euros, need a smoke evacuation outlet and that complicates their placement if the building does not have a pre-installation. “The regulations establish that, in order to limit the risk of contamination of the interior air of buildings and of the external environment in façades and patios, smoke evacuation must be carried out through the roof of the building. In addition, each appliance must have its own smoke chimney. If several devices were connected to the same duct, plastering could be produced, with the high risk of poisoning that this entails”, explains the person in charge of heating at Leroy Merlin, Ramón Egaña.

Thus, “raising the conduit on the outside of the block is a challenge, since not everyone accepts that a pipe goes through their wall, so you have to consult beforehand”, they remember in ProntoPro, a platform to find professionals and budgets. You could try to raise the tube through the building’s light well or the rear façade, but for that you need to ask the community for permission. “If only one neighbor requests it, he needs a majority of three fifths in assembly and, if that number of neighbors does not attend, the agreement is impossible to reach,” says Peio Mendia, treasurer of the General Council of Associations of Property Administrators of Spain, which insists that the smoke outlet cannot be removed from the façade.

These requirements make the installation of firewood equipment more common in villas, penthouses and maisonettes, where access to the deck is easier. “The ideal are the last floors, rooms under cover and with an air chamber in the middle,” they say in Habitissimo. “The apartments on the upper floors have facilities, while for those who live on the lower floors the situation is different because it is necessary to pass the smoke outlet through the centralized conduit of the community of owners,” they add in ProntoPro.

holographic flames

For floors there are other stoves that are easier to install, although they are more expensive or decorative. Gas fireplaces also need a smoke evacuation outlet, but the draft is smaller and it is enough to install a galvanized tube that, in certain circumstances, could go outside. The flames, although real, are static, although there are models that include fans that move the flames. The pellet stove (small pressed pieces of sawdust) also needs a smoke outlet, and although its price has risen, biomass is still an economical option to heat the house.

Focus brand fireplace.
Focus brand fireplace.Bim (Getty Images)

The electric ones are support heating that does not require work, since they do not emit gases, smoke or water vapor. “They are mostly decorative, although they serve as a source of heat. Its biggest drawback is its consumption, between 1,000 and 2,000 watts of power, which means a high consumption of electricity”, they state in Habitissimo.

Within this category are the electric models that offer a digital fire, ceramic logs and the sound of crackling firewood. It is a holographic screen that offers a highly realistic fire, but does not heat and is purely decorative. “The Ergofocus Holographik holographic model is designed for new or recently renovated apartments and flats, spaces where less and less energy is consumed and such demanding heating solutions are no longer needed,” they indicate in Focus.

The bioethanol fireplace does not expel gases or odors and does not need a smoke outlet. It has an energy efficiency of 100%, since since it does not have a draft, all the heat generated remains in the room.

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