EcoDesign, DEFRA & clearSkies: How to Tell if a Wood Burner is Clean and Efficient

Wood burning stoves have boomed in popularity in the UK over the past year, with an increasing number of homeowners looking to invest in something that allows them to save money on their bills amid the energy price crisis. But if you’re considering getting a wood burner installed, you might have been put off by all the negative press around them at the moment. How polluting are they exactly? Can you be fined for using one? They’re all valid questions, and the good news is that a modern stove is a clean, efficient option. Here are some symbols to look out for, to give you peace of mind.


Earlier in 2023, the new EcoDesign regulations came into force. All stoves sold must now meet them in order to be legally compliant. If you’re buying a stove, you can usually expect it to carry the SIA Ecodesign symbol – if it doesn’t, don’t purchase it. To meet SIA EcoDesign standards, stoves must have a minimum heat efficiency of 75%. Along with this, many also offer clean-burning technologies. As a result, as long as you are using approved, clean fuel in your stove to heat your home, you can expect high efficiency and low emissions. Stores like have a good range available.

DEFRA Exempt

DEFRA exempt or DEFRA approved is an important symbol to look out for if you are buying a stove to install and use in a Smoke Control Area. Smoke Control Areas refer to areas within the UK that are built-up and include most cities and towns. Getting a stove with this seal of approval is essential if you plan to burn wood, otherwise, you will be limited in what you can burn. Without DEFRA approval, you will only be able to burn smokeless fuel, which you will need a multi-fuel stove or grate for.


clearSkies is an additional symbol that is not legally required or necessary for use in a Smoke Control Zone. However, it is worthwhile looking out for if you want complete peace of mind that your stove is as efficient and clean-burning as possible. clearSkies is available in four levels that stove manufacturers can apply for depending on the efficiency levels of the stove. clearSkies level 1 meets Ecodesign standards, while clearSkies level 2 is Ecodesign compliant and DEFRA approved. Levels 3, 4, and Plus exceed the minimum expectations and offer some of the most clean-burning, heat efficient models you can find.

Tips for Using Your Stove Efficiently and Sustainably

Along with choosing a stove that carries the above symbols, there are several things that you can do when using it to heat your home to reduce emissions and improve efficiency. These are:

  1. Keep your chimney clean – get a professional sweep around once a year at least.
  2. Only burn dry wood under 20% moisture – Woodsure Ready to Burn is a good option.
  3. Build your fire correctly to ensure efficient burning.
  4. Choose the right size stove for your room.

While there’s been some negative press about wood burners recently, the good news is that most is exaggerated. With the right seals of approval and some sustainable practices, you can enjoy an efficient, low-emissions wood burning stove to heat your home.

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