Updated: 10/11/16 : 12:27:31
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Consumers warned against using non-HETAS approved fuels this winter

Home owners in Sligo and the north west are being advised to be vigilant when it comes to buying home heating fuels this winter. As the nights draw in and temperatures drop, the temptation to purchase low cost solid fuels to heat your home can be enticing.

However some of these fuels are not as cheap in the long run as they may seem. In Ireland in recent years, some merchants have been selling high-sulphur fuels which are banned in towns and cities with populations of over 15,000 people under the Air Pollution Act.

These materials are damaging to home heating systems and the environment but also to you and your family's well-being. It is illegal to sell or to burn ‘smoky coal’ or high sulphur fuels in a smokeless zone and fines of up to €1,000 can be applied for a first offence.

Rigorous Testing

To counter any such problems it is recommended that consumers purchase smokeless fuels with the Heating Equipment Testing and Approval Scheme (HETAS) logo printed on them. HETAS approved fuels are smokeless fuels which have endured rigorous testing and are therefore safe to burn in your stove or closed fire. Burning an approved fuel gives the homeowner the peace of mind that their fuel is not damaging the appliance or the environment. This also ensures that your appliance will work for many years in a trouble free and safe manner.

"A stove can cost up to €2,000 to purchase and install", explains Peter Layden, Managing Director of Arigna Fuels in Carrick-on-Shannon. "In a two storey home, the flue could cost you a further €1,000 to replace. We have seen cases in local towns where people having been using high sulphur fuels in their stoves and they have had to replace their flues after just eight months. Where an unapproved fuel has been used stove and flue manufacturers can cancel the warranty, leaving the consumer with a big headache."

Banned

Minister for Communications, Climate Action and the Environment Denis Naughten has recently moved to resolve this issue and from March 2017, all solid fuels containing over two percent sulphur will be banned completely from the Irish market. In the meantime the only way to ensure your fuel is safe is to look for the HETAS logo on the bag, pictured above.

Peter warned that the last few years has seen a huge growth in the popularity of manufactured fuels known as 'ovoids' or 'eggs'. He concluded: "As more suppliers have come into the market it has been very disappointing that a number of them have just tried to cause confusion by using similar branding rather than develop their own distinctive brands and fuel characteristics.

"When we started production in 1990 we put a lot of effort into developing our distinctive brands such as Cosyglo and Ecobrite. One other distributor went as far as putting a bag marked 'Kosyglo' into the market. So consumers need to ensure that they are getting the real thing when purchasing fuel.”