Is It Worth Replacing Your Wood-Burner Now?

by Claire Wilson on Tue Jun 2018
Is It Worth Replacing Your Wood-Burner Now?

Checking the age of your existing wood-burner and replacing it within it's 15 year lifetime or before 1 Jan 2019 could save you thousands.

Wood burners are a great way to stay warm during winter and tenants love them, however smoke is the major contributor to urban winter air quality problems in Canterbury. To improve our air quality, Environment Canterbury (ECAN) has authorised everyone to start replacing older wood burners and to burn smoke-free.

Wood-burning technology has made huge strides in recent years, and it's all about efficiency and ultra-low emissions.

Environment Canterbury says any home in the city can be fitted with a woodburner, irrespective of whether the house has an existing model – so long as it's the right sort.

What are Ultra Low Emmission Burners (ULEBs)?

Ultra low emission burner

ULEB’s represent the biggest change in home heating for a long time. They create a down-draft that burns off dirty air immediately a fire has started, unlike other clean-air models that have a slight delay. The cost is likely to be just under $7000 including installation and permit, but installation costs vary from house to house. Compared to the cost of a Low Emission Burner (LEB) at around $4000.

Check the age of your wood burner to avoid this trap!

Recently we realised a wood burner in one of our personal rentals had past is used by date being more than 15 years old and that it could no longer be used. We found out that due to its age, we now had to replace it with an ULEB which was nearly twice the price of a LEB. Had we replaced it inside the 15 year lifetime we could have opted for the cheaper LEB or a heat pump (the tenant wanted to keep the fire) and saved thousands– very frustrating!

What are ECAN’s guidelines?

So the good news is ULEB’s have no expiry date (under the current Air Plan) however from 1 January 2019 any new burner installed must be an ULEB regardless of its age. Some further points from ECAN for sites less than 2 ha in size and in Canterbury are

  • low-emission burners may not be installed into new homes
  • existing low-emission burners may be used for up to 20 years. Replacement with a low emission burner is allowed until 1 January 2019
  • older style burners (of any age) cannot be used. They can be replaced with an ultra-low emission burner (or non emitting heating such as a heat pump)
  • open fires cannot be used
  • older style wood burners (that do not meet a 1 gram emission standard and are not on the Environment Canterbury authorised list) can only be replaced with a low emission wood burner if a building consent was lodged with Christchurch City Council by 31 October 2017. An ultra-low emission burner can be installed at any time
  • all burners must be registered with Environment Canterbury and all maintenance records must be kept

Note: Home heating measures for sites that are greater than 2ha in size (generally rural areas) and in the Clean Air Zone differ from those above.

Christchurch pollution

Why opt for ULEBs over LEBs?

ULEBs are the cleanest solid fuel burners. Under the current Air Plan, they can be installed and used indefinitely in Canterbury.

LEBs can be used in most parts of Canterbury, but they are being phased out in most Clean Air Zones so you must check ECAN’s home heating measures for your location.

Can pellet fires still be used?

Some pellet fires meet the standard set for ultra-low emission wood burners. Ultra-low emission pellet burners can be installed and used anywhere in Canterbury indefinitely under the current Air Plan.

Low emission burners are the most common pellet burners in Canterbury and have been around since the early 2000s. These burners only burn pellets and will generally have only one air flow control and will not be able to be banked down overnight. You can use these burners in most areas, on sites less than 2 hectares in Christchurch, they may be used until they are 20 years old.


Need more info?

To consider your options: Visit or call 0800 329 276

For a map of Clean Air Zones: Visit and search for Clean Air Zones to find your address 

To find the age of your burner: Search for your address at, check your LIM or Christchurch City Council

Who to contact for a quote?

We recommend using the Heatstore for quotes they offer all heating solutions including one of the largest ranges of wood and pellet fires available in Canterbury from supply to installation.

Claire Wilson

Claire Wilson

An active investor with her husband Hamish, Claire loves to inspire & inform others & works alongside the team ensuring we continually grow to provide a high quality service.