How easy is it to use a stove?

They're not difficult to use at all and you'll quickly get used to getting the best from your stove if you follow the manufacturer's instructions. Compared to lighting an open fire, lighting a stove is quicker and easier, as well as being much more predictable because of the control you have over the combustion air. However, it would be wrong to say that the heat is instantaneous like a gas or electric fire. A stove has to operate for longer periods but the pay-off is that you get an abundance of cheap heat that hangs around long after the stove has gone out, unlike gas or electric fires.

Stoves produce a lot less ash than open fires and when you burn wood the fire-chamber can be left with up to 25mm (1") of ash to help the wood burn better and to provide a heat-reflecting barrier to protect the grate. The ash pan shouldn't really need to be emptied every day either (this of course depends on the individual stove and how long you burn it for). Some of our highly-efficient Dan Skan stoves, which we burn live in The Stove Yard's Cheshire and County Down showrooms, can be left for well over a week before the ash pans need to be emptied. Multi fuel burning however, produces more ash than wood burning but still nothing like the ash that is produced by an open fire where some of the fuel can remain unburnt at the end of the fire cycle.

Unfortunately you have to bend down to load a lot of traditional stoves, so if you're old or infirm then you really should bear this in mind. The fire-chambers on contemporary stoves are usually higher so this may help.

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