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Air Pollution and wood burning consumer awareness campaign

This issue is a potential threat to the future of the solid fuel industry.

The issue

You may well have seen recent media reports concerning air quality issues and perhaps you’ve had customers asking questions. What did you tell them?  There are suggestions that all wood burning could be banned in some city areas. If this were to happen it will affect us all, and regardless of where you live, your business will suffer. Although this is a threat, it’s also a big opportunity.

Regardless of where you live or who your customers are, you can make a big difference to your local air quality.

Below there is important information, guidance and instruction so please read it all. It is likely to affect your business in some way. Please find:

  • Background to the problem
  • What you can do and how to do it
  • Links to consumer information 
  • Downloads – “Press release” and “Wood as fuel” information
  • Consumer information email – we will send you this separately


The Guild has been working with Defra and we’ve produced the consumer awareness information “We all breathe the same air” It is aimed directly at your customers. Please have a good look at it. This information is the start of a major ongoing campaign. You’ll need to understand it and know what to do because you are the most important link between the information and the wood burning public.

This is a unique opportunity to highlight your professionalism to your customers and your local community. You will save them money, make them safer and reduce unnecessary pollution in your area. Your business, our industry and our wider society will all benefit.

If wood is burned at low temperature, it wastes fuel and it contributes to air pollution. There are several factors which influence the burning temperature and you can learn more by downloading the “Wood as Fuel” information. The greatest cause of low temperature burning is when stove users close the air supply down too much.

Air quality - tar in clearviewThe stove pictured here can burn very cleanly but this one had the air control closed off too much by the user – you’ve all seen it many times. There are 100’s of thousands of stoves like this already installed. Many are capable of having the air controls shut off too much, leading to wasted fuel, increased tar deposits and unnecessary pollution. We can’t blame the consumer because they generally don’t even know there is a problem, let alone realise they might be part of the problem. And even if they are aware, what should they do about it?

Stoves will become much more efficient in the future. In the meantime there are 100’s of thousands of existing stoves and we need to do something about the way our customers use them. I say we, but this really means you, each and every one. There is only one option to get the job done and that is through consumer awareness and education. If we fail to make a difference we will all pay the price.

Luckily there is a really big upside for us if we get the right message across.

Professional sweeps like you gain a unique insight into the appliances, the chimneys, the fuels and the effect that the appliance user has on combustion. We are the only group with the skills, opportunity and motivation to influence our customer burning habits. Only we can show consumers how to better operate their stoves, saving fuel (money), decreasing tar deposits and reducing unnecessary air pollution.

What to do and how to do it

This campaign will require action from each and every member. Getting the correct information to every consumer is the only way. It will actually require action from all professional sweeps but Guild members will start it all. It will then be spread to the rest of the industry. The Guild and others will promote the information wherever we can but only you can give it to your customers with the right message.

The most important thing you can do is to forward the consumer information email to every customer during your visit. We will send you this email separately. There is great information on the videos and there are links to the whole of the “We all breathe the same air” consumer information.

We have produced some excellent tools to make it easy for you.

Downloads and Links

The Future

This campaign is very important. Many Guild members already help their customers with this issue but the consumer information and videos will make a big difference. Consumers are encouraged to share it with others to spread the message.

If we are successful it will turn the problem around and could save our industry from set-backs. Guild sweeps have the highest standards and are the most professional group of chimney sweeps in the country. We now have some great tools to get us started and forwarding the email to each of your customers whilst sweeping the chimney is the first step.

There are other issues involved with this problem – the burning of wood and coal in Smoke Control Areas is a part of the problem. Politicians / councils are confusing this with the stove issue.  We will produce specific consumer information for you to give to customers in Smoke Control Areas.

A few weeks after the start of this campaign, sweeps from any organisation will be invited to join. They will be supplied with the same information and guidance. The issue is far too important to limit action to any one group and we can’t do it all on our own.

2 Responses to “We all breathe the same air”

  1. Gez Goss

    Hi there,
    Thank you for the emails on this matter. I have tried to share the getting it right video on our chimney facebook page but it says it is not listed and won’t let me do it. Hope it isn’t just me but maybe it needs listing.


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