Guest Blog by Ian Sams, Commercial Director, Specflue

Guest Blog by Ian Sams, Commercial Director, Specflue

Sustainable stoves for tomorrow’s world, available today…

According to forecasters, 2020 will be the decade in which environmentalism is at the forefront of everyone’s minds. From the bushfires in Australia to Greta Thunberg’s address to the UN, society has been shocked into action. The majority of the world’s population are now moving away from single-use plastics and fossil fuels, beginning instead to embrace positive change. To preserve the planet for future generations, we may well find ourselves enjoying insect protein and 3D printed meals in the coming years, getting from place to place in electric pods driven by AI.

During the past ten years, organisations have been facing increasing pressure to adopt a genuine and responsible approach towards the environment that we live in. It is a truth recognised the world over that commerce generates a great deal more waste than consumers, whether it is produced by a small family-run enterprise throwing their cardboard in the general waste bin or a multinational corporation with a global environmental impact.

Specflue has long been a leading UK provider of products and services related to wood burning stoves. Therefore our products have always offered a low-carbon alternative to fossil fuels; and if logs are locally sourced, a wood burning stove is virtually carbon neutral. However, since the sector was identified as a legacy generator of particulates, Specflue has put environmental responsibilities at the heart of a twin strategy to become an active carbon-reduction enabler.

Firstly, as DEFRA has introduced Ecodesign legislation as part of its Clean Air Strategy to which all wood burners must conform by 2022, Specflue proudly promotes the fact that all of its products are already compliant. Conventional wood burning stoves offer a host of powerful benefits to householders. They are reliable, reduce heating bills, use a renewable fuel source, and Ecodesign ready technology is particularly energy efficient and clean burning compared with older incarnations. One of many exceptional examples of this technology is our Termatech range, available from the Fire Engine.

Secondly, Specflue has become the UK’s primary advocate for the use of ‘pellet burners’, which provide an even cleaner, next-generation evolution of the much-loved wood burner.

Amy MCZ pellet stove for the fire engineOne perceived drawback of woodburning stoves is that although you can regulate their air flow and heat output to a limited amount, you can’t simply switch them on and off, or expect instant heat. That’s where pellet stoves come in. Pellet stoves burn compressed wood or biomass pellets to create a source of heat. By slowly feeding fuel automatically from the storage container (the hopper) into the burn tray, a constant flame is created and monitored to ensure maximum efficiency.

Probably the biggest benefit of a pellet stove to its owner is its ease of use thanks to automatic ignition, power modulation and the fact that these stoves can be programmed; in fact, they can also be operated remotely as this film illustrates… MCZ pellet stove

But greater still is the benefit to the planet. The University of Manchester SUPERGEN Bioenergy Hub focuses on research relating to the use of sustainable bioenergy systems. Its director, Professor Patricia Thornley, recently advised: “Biomass heating [which typically uses wood pellets or wood chips as fuel] is a technology available today that can immediately reduce the greenhouse gas emissions associated with heat production. Calculating the exact extent to which this reduces greenhouse gas emissions is complicated because you have to look at where the wood comes from, how it has been processed, etc.”
“We have done those calculations for many different types of system and find that you do get good reductions in greenhouse gas emissions – 58% for a pellet boiler replacing a natural gas boiler in a home; 94% for a chip boiler in a district heating system.” If you’d like to find out more about this technology, ask one of the heating experts at The Fire Engine.

As Kermit the Frog once philosophised, it isn’t easy being green. However, necessity is the mother of invention – and we at Specflue are proud of the work we have been doing to innovate, to drive change and to continually operate some distance ahead of the legal requirements. Working with trade installers and retail partners, such as The Fire Engine in North Devon and North Cornwall, we continue to invest in leading our sector’s work towards the UK Government’s 2050 net zero carbon objectives, and we are always seeking to continually improve.

Call in to the showroom to find out more about Termatech stoves or MCZ pellet burners, or phone us on 01237 420904 to book your free survey.



Posted by Annette in News, 0 comments
Enjoy ApplePie at the Fire Engine

Enjoy ApplePie at the Fire Engine

We are delighted to announce that you can now get ApplePie at the Fire Engine! Well that is, a new range of wood burning stoves – ApplePie by Ekol.  So, we  have been busy this week installing this new range of stoves which are ideal for small spaces.

apple pie by ekolIf you are looking for a small stove to fit in to your home, boat, yurt or glamping pod, it’s now as easy as pie.  This compact wood burning stove gives you great efficiency as it is EcoDesign 2022 compliant so will push out the heat even though it is small in size, it is powerful in performance.

And not only is it a wood burning stove but you can also decide to cook on it too.  The ApplePie is small, it is extremely versatile so you can really specify exactly what you want. It has been called ‘the Swiss Army knife of stoves’.  What this means is that you can choose to have your own individual styling and multiple cooking options including stainless cooktop, top baking oven, pan supports to one or both sides as well as griddle plate and pizza shelf inside.

Come along to our preview day in the showroom on Saturday January 18th from 10am till 2pm. 

Posted by Annette in Home Page, News, 0 comments
Guest blog – Catharina Björkman from Contura in Sweden

Guest blog – Catharina Björkman from Contura in Sweden


I’m Catharina Björkman, marketing communications manager at Contura in Sweden, happy to appear here at the Fire Engine and share some thoughts this cold January. It’s been 11 years for me and Contura and I’ve been constantly focused on building our brand to meet our customers in the best way.

Contura, the Swedish stove manufacturing company, is found in the dark woods of Småland in southern Sweden and we share many of our values with another Swedish furniture company with the same origin (IKEA…), where I actually also spent many years of my work life. It’s always been important for me at work to be able to help people feel good at home, so moving from home furnishing to heat and cosiness was a very easy choice for me!

Contura – the Swedish stove manufacturer in Markaryd

Contura Hq for the fire engineAt Contura, we offer an extensive range of classic and contemporary wood burners; from traditional insert stoves suitable for existing fireplaces, to freestanding statement models made with innovative materials such as soapstone.

We design and assemble our stoves at the factory located in Markaryd, Sweden, and manufacture to the highest standards.

Speaking of feeling good, one of the best ways, I believe, to create wellbeing at home, is to allow some cosiness in everyday life. That’s why we have created Cosyology by Contura – the art of creating cosy. Let me share some of our Swedish lifestyle tips here.

‘Cosyology’ – the art of creating cosy

The objective of Cosyology is to convey knowledge and create value by providing tips, advice and information on how to boost the cosy in everyday lives. A far reaching theme? Without doubt, but it also opens the door to dialogue on a variety of subjects which is almost unlimited. Which firewood creates the warmest glow? What is the most fun card game for the whole family? How do you bake the tastiest biscuits to enjoy by the fire?

Within Cosyology, we can spark a dialogue about pretty much anything – as long as it involves cosiness!

Winter in Sweden

Winter in Sweden is all about enjoying cosy as temperatures can drop to as low as -30°C. There is even a dedicated Swedish term to describe cosiness and the pleasure that being cosy provides: Mysig.

At Contura, we believe that ‘creating cosy’ can really help to elevate our mood, allowing us to celebrate the season rather than scorn it. After all, there is so much to love about winter – cosy nights in, dimmed lighting, intimate gatherings with friends or family, comfort food and drink, roaring fires and snuggling up in layers or blankets.

The ritual of Fredagsmys

Fredagsmys translates, quite literally, to “cosy Friday,” and refers to the Swedish end-of-the-week ritual of holing up at home to relax, indulge in comfort food, watch movies and enjoy quality time after a week of hard work.

Be Lagom

‘Lagom’ is a Swedish term describing ‘just the right amount’ or ‘not too little and not too much,’ and denotes a mindful approach to all areas of life, focusing on moderation, balance, sustainability and frugality. This thoughtful approach encourages a life less frivolous, more authentic, and most importantly, endeavours to ensure that we strive for the right balance to feel happier and more fulfilled in whatever we do.

My favourite Contura stove

Contura for the fire engineThe Contura 500 Style stove is our most popular stove. First launched in 2003, it has continued to be our shining star. The sideglasses shows a lot of the fire and the size fits most homes. And there are so many models to choose from! In May 2019, we launched the new Contura 800 Style stove. This is actually my favourite stove series. The design is so easy to love and there are many good features, like the automatic start function and refuelling boost function, both developed to enhance the everyday fire.

I wish you all a lovely start of 2020 and don’t forget to add some mysig (cosiness) and lagom (not too much or too little) to your life!

Call into the showroom to find our more about Contura stoves or phone us on 01237 420904 to book your free survey.

Posted by Annette in News, 0 comments
Woodburning stoves and the environment

Woodburning stoves and the environment

Whatever we do in today’s world has an impact on the environment in some way. So, thinking about woodburning stoves and the environment. One way to contribute to a reduced environmental impact is to choose a modern stove with efficient woodburning design.

Light an environmentally-friendly fire

The first step is to choose a modern stove.  Modern stoves today have an efficiency of over 80%.  This compared to an open fire at 30% and a stove produced ten years ago, with an average efficiency of 65%. Efficiency varies by manufacturer so look for an EcoDesign ready stove.

The efficiency of the appliance impacts on the amount of wood required, as shown in this diagram . Significantly fewer logs are required in an Ecodesign Ready stove. Saving money and reducing emissions.

Installing a wood burning stove for space and water heating can help you be more energy efficient and reduce your carbon footprint.

Think about woodburning stoves and the environment.


CO2 neutral stoves from Contura

A Contura stove is CO2 neutral, because the quantity of carbon dioxide produced during the efficient combustion of bioenergy is taken up when new trees grow. By lighting, you get a natural supporting heat in the house, which relieves the load on the house’s main heating. It benefits both you and the environment.

We are members of the SIA Retail Group so you can find out more about the wood burning stoves and the environment here.

Posted by Will Lloyd in News, 0 comments
How to choose the right gas fire for your home

How to choose the right gas fire for your home

If you are looking for a heat source that is the focal point of your home at the push of a button then a gas fire is a good option. But, which one? Here we give an overview of some of the key points to think about before having a gas fire installed.

1. Do you have gas?

Before you choose your gas fire this may seem an obvious question but not all homes have a gas connection. However, even if you do not have mains gas it is possible to have a connection for propane gas.

2. Where do you want the fire to go?

Do you have a gas fire right now? Then you can either leave the new gas fire in the same position, or you can choose to install the gas fire in a different location in your home.

3. What about the flue?

The outlet for flue gases (the flue) can be installed through the wall or roof. This means that you can even choose to place a gas fire in the middle of your living room or between two rooms. You do not have to be restricted by an existing location but can have the fire installed in the most convenient location in your home. To find out what would work for you ask us to come along to do an installation survey.

4. Think about gas consumption

Capacity and consumption of your gas fire is a key point for consideration. A fire with a high capacity is often chosen. You may think that a fire with a high capacity is better by definition and that it will heat the room more quickly. However, a fire with a capacity that is too high will heat the surrounding area too quickly. As a result, you will soon be forced to turn the fire down or even off, and you will no longer be able to enjoy the flames. Also, a fire with a high capacity cannot dissipate the heat evenly. That is why it is important to choose a gas fire or gas heater that is a good match for the room you want to heat in terms of capacity. We will establish the right capacity for your gas fire when we undertake our survey.

5. What is the right capacity?

What you need depends on several factors. It depends on the volume of the space to be heated and how well your home is insulated. The capacity is determined by multiplying the length, width and height of the space and thus calculating the cubic meters of efficiency.

chart describing gas fire capacity

A – for well insulated homes
Is your home equipped with good insulation, such as roof insulation, floor and/or cavity wall insulation or double-glazing? This is usually true for new, recently built houses or homes that have not been professionally.

B – for reasonably insulated homes
Is your home fitted with older insulation? Do you have double-glazing, but only basic wall and floor insulation?

C – for moderately insulated homes
Is your home poorly insulated and do you not have double-glazing? If you allow your home to be better insulated in the future, you may have a fire that provides too much capacity.

We are the South West stockist of gas fires from Dru and Global, find out more here.

Call us to arrange your free gas installation survey on 01237 420904.

Posted by Will Lloyd in News, 0 comments
Time to close that open fire – and replace it with an EcoDesign wood burner

Time to close that open fire – and replace it with an EcoDesign wood burner

New generation wood burning stoves are now so clean and efficient. Not only can you clearly see the flames, but the radiant heat comes straight at you. It looks and feels just like an open fire.

Whilst traditional open fires do allow you to see the flames, they have now been identified as a major source of air pollution. This makes it hard to justify still lighting one. Not only does 80-90% of the heat go up the chimney but also particulate matter is released direct into the air. By installing a new Eco Design 2022 clean burning wood stove you can personally reduce emissions by up to 90%.

In its Clean Air Strategy, Defra recognises that all wood burning is not the same. Also, reductions in particulate emissions (PM) can be achieved through the installation of EcoDesign Ready stoves burning dry wood.

Stove industry alliance chart about impact of open fires against woodburnersBurning wood produces particulate matter (PM) but the amount produced depends on how the wood is burnt. Independent research conducted by Kiwa Gastec on behalf of the SIA has shown that SIA EcoDesign Ready stoves can reduce particulate emissions by 90% compared to an open fire and 80% compared to an old stove.

To deal with domestic burning, the government will ban the sale of the most polluting fossil fuels and ensure that only efficient and clean wood burning stoves are available for sale by 2022. The government is also consulting on phasing out the sale of traditional house coal and on limiting the sale of wet wood, the type found on garage forecourts. Look for the Ready to burn logo on bags of logs to ensure your firewood is dry and suitable for your stove.

So, if you love a real open fire but are concerned about what to burn once house coal becomes unavailable the answer might just be to install a wood burning stove.

Wood burning stoves are not only much more efficient when compared to open fires, they are environmentally more friendly especially when compared to burning coal on your open fire.

When harvested from efficiently managed forests, wood logs are obtained as a natural by-product of the thinning process. This is a form or renewable and sustainable biomass fuel. This is essential to the conservation of the forest, as it ensure there is enough light and space for the remaining trees to thrive. On a continuous cycle, felled trees are replaced and replanted, thereby preserving the woodland for future use. Firewood logs are therefore virtually carbon neutral, and as a result, woodland is being increasingly recognised as a valuable resource for sustainable fossil free fuel.

Contact us on 01237 420904 to find out more or visit our showroom to speak to our experts.

Posted by Will Lloyd in News
10 things you can do with wood ash from your wood burning stove

10 things you can do with wood ash from your wood burning stove

Wood burns better on a bed of ash as it helps combustion of the new wood so no need to empty everyday. However, now and again you will need to empty the ash (how often depends on how often you burn your wood burner.) Take the top layer away and rather than throwing it in the bin, why not try some of these recycling ideas?

1. Clean your wood burning stove

If you’ve got a wood-burning stove with airwash then your glass should keep itself nice and clean. But if you do need to clean your glass by hand, we find that a bit of newspaper dipped in some cool ashes does the trick. A damp sponge dipped in the dust scrubs away sooty residue.

2. Use on the garden

Use ash to enrich compost. Before applying to the soil, throw some into the compost bin and mix through. This will help to enhance the nutrients in the compost. Wood ash tends to contain lots of lime, which is useful for combating acidic soil. Have a look at the Royal Horticultural Society website for more tips on using ash in your garden.

3. Stop nasty garden pests

Spread some ash evenly in garden beds as ash repels slugs and snails. Tiny piles of ash used as borders around each of your plants will help to keep unwanted visitors away from your plants. Insects, slugs and snails can all be deterred from tucking into your plants by a simple pile of ash.

4. Melt snow when it gets colder

When the snow falls, use wood ash to add traction and de-ice without hurting soil or concrete underneath.

5. Give your family silver a good shine

Simply mix a paste of ash and water together and apply to make a nontoxic metal polisher. It is abrasive, but if used with care it’s mild enough to create a nice shine without causing any damage.

6. Stop pets smelling around the house

Just take a handful of ash and rub into your dog’s coat to help neutralise any lingering doggy odours. Then you can let them back into the house to curl up beside your wood burner!

7. Hide stains on paving

The disaster of wet paint spatters on cement can be hidden by sprinkling ash directly on the spot. Then just blend in with a scuff of a boot.

8. Control pond algae

One tablespoon per 1,000 gallons adds enough potassium to strengthen other aquatic plants that compete with algae, slowing its growth.

9. Give your tomatoes a boost

For these calcium-loving plants, place 1/4 cup right in the hole when planting.

10. Make some soap

Soaking ash in water makes lye, which can be mixed with animal fat and then boiled to produce soap. Salt makes it harden as it cools.

Let us know if you have any ideas to add to our list.

Posted by Will Lloyd in News, 0 comments
Gas fired wood burner – the look of a wood burner with the convenience of gas

Gas fired wood burner – the look of a wood burner with the convenience of gas

One of the main reasons for choosing a gas fired wood burner is convenience. Sit back, and at the click of a button it bursts into life!  Every Chesneys gas stove is controlled by a hand-held remote-control device that allows you to control the flame height and heat output from the comfort of your armchair. So, if you want the stunning look of a real log burner then perhaps a gas stove could be an ideal option.

If a wood burning stove isn’t suitable for your home or needs, a gas log burner can provide an aesthetically pleasing true alternative.

The beautifully crafted stoves from Chesneys strike a perfect balance between elegance and efficiency.  It will look great in a fireplace surround or as a standalone statement piece. It is so convincing!  Chesneys have created a fire that emulates the flame pattern of a real fire. The individually hand painted logs produce a deep lifelike glow.

To find out more come into our showroom to see a live demo or call us on 01237 420904 to arrange a free home design consultation.

Posted by Will Lloyd in News
Don’t be underwhelmed by underfloor heating

Don’t be underwhelmed by underfloor heating

If you are considering your own grand design or buying a new property with underfloor heating, it might be worth combining this with a wood burner. A stove will give you fast radiant heat and creates a beautiful focal point in your main living area.

Underfloor heating has become the heating choice for most individual new build homes. It is equally popular with self-builders and renovators and for good reason. Underfloor heating gives a level of ambient comfort, efficiency and extra wall space.

It works by effectively turning the entire floor area into a radiator, via warm water pipes (wet UFH) or electric mats concealed within the floor structure. Warm water pipes are typically embedded within a screed. But there are other methods of installation, particularly for renovators.

Check the reaction time

A new efficient air source heat pump, connected to an underfloor system, is a wonderful green way to heat a new house. The resulting gentle heat, due to the floor’s large surface area, rises steadily upwards and there are no cold spots or draughts. So, this makes for a very comfortable environment. However, with a sudden drop in outside temperature it can take hours for the system to react and bring the house back up to temperature.

This is where the wood burner comes in

One way around this is to run the system at a constant lower temperature of say 15 – 18 degrees C to provide the gentle background temperature and install a wonderful wood burner. This can quickly raise the temperature with its beautiful radiant heat. With modern wood burners this can also be an incredibly stylish feature in your living room.

Highlight Heating

A modern wood burning stove can be the highlight of your home. It adds fossil free heat, and makes a wonderful feature with so many amazing designs now available from stove makers like Contura.

Modern wood burners are so easy to light, they get hot quickly and the glass stays clean. The clean door means you have a lovely clear view of the flames. Someone recently told us that watching the fire is also good for our mental health. But, who doesn’t like watching a fire? We might have grand designs on a modern home, but like our ancestors we still like the comfort of our cave.

To find the right stove for your home, give us a call on 01237 420904 or call into our showroom in Bideford.

Posted by Will Lloyd in News, 0 comments
The Fire Engine joins national stove alliance

The Fire Engine joins national stove alliance

Local stove and fireplace retailer, The Fire Engine, is among the first in a group of independent retailers to become members of the Stove Industry Alliance (SIA) as part of its new retail scheme.

The SIA Retail Group was formed earlier this year and membership is open to independent retailers with showroom displays in the UK.
The SIA is a trade association for the stove and fireplace industry in the UK. Its members were among the first manufacturers to develop appliances that meet Ecodesign requirements – new standards for emissions and efficiency of domestic wood burning appliances – well ahead of the January 2022 deadline, and positioning wood burning stoves and fireplaces as part of a low carbon, sustainable and renewable heating strategy
Using improved burn technology, an SIA Ecodesign Ready stove produces 90% less emissions than an open fire and 80% less than a stove that was manufactured 10 years ago, making a significant improvement to air quality.
The Fire Engine based in Bideford, is one of a growing number of independent retailers that have joined the SIA Retail Group and is able to offer the very latest stoves available on the market. Commenting on their decision to join the Group Will Lloyd, owner of The Fire Engine said:
“The Fire Engine is very proud to be a part of the SIA Retail Group. The SIA is a well-respected trade organisation and including independent retailers as members means it is representative of the whole stove industry in the UK. By choosing an SIA Retail Group member showroom customers can be assured that they are receiving the very best advice on which appliance is suitable for them and their lifestyle. Plus, they will be safe in the knowledge that we can guide them on installation and maintenance, and the best type of fuel to use to ensure they get maximum efficiency and minimum emissions.”
Morley Sage, chair of the SIA, added: “Modern SIA Ecodesign Ready stoves are high efficiency, low emission, renewable and sustainable biomass heating solutions their owners can be proud of, and we are delighted to welcome The Fire Engine to the SIA Retail Group. Membership reassures the public that they are in safe hands when choosing and installing a stove or fireplace and provides retailers with the support and expertise of the SIA.”

For further information on the SIA Retail Group and a list of members visit

Posted by Will Lloyd in News