The Ormskirk firm fuelling a green energy revolution
PUBLISHED: 17:23 15 November 2011 | UPDATED: 20:19 20 February 2013
Vesta Stoves is proving to be hot stuff when it comes to fuelling a green energy revolution, as Paul Mackenzie reports<br/>Photography by Kirsty Thompson
We are in the midst of a revolution and in a shed on old pig farm near Ormskirk John Stanley is giving power to the people.
As fuel prices soar and concerns grow over the environmental impact and dwindling supplies of fossil fuels, increasing numbers of home owners are turning to more sustainable forms of heating.
And in his converted pig shed, father-of-three John is playing a key role in fuelling the uprising. He is one of the few people in the country to make woodburning stoves from scratch.
A wood burner gives all the benefits of an open fire, with the added bonus that more heat goes into the room, John said. With an open fire around 80 per cent of the heat goes up the chimney and 20 per cent into the room, with a woodburner those figures are reversed. Consequently gas bills come down and the woodburner can pay for itself in about 18 months.
There are around 100,000 new stoves bought in the UK every year and around 10,000 of them are constructed here,.
But most of those are just assembled whereas we do the whole job by hand, from sheet steel to finished job. And building them ourselves means we can customise them to suit.
The stoves are built from sheets of steel which arrive at the workshop and are cut into shapes before John pieces them together like a large and very heavy 3D jigsaw puzzle.
But while there is something reassuringly traditional about the crackle of wood in a roaring fire, Johns business, Vesta Stoves, is at the cutting edge literally. He is set to install a state-of-the-art plasma cutting robot to speed up the preparation process. At present we can make about eight stoves a day, one an hour, but with the robot cutting machine that part of the job will be taken off us so well be able to spend more time making the stoves, said John, whose wife Sarah and father Paul also work for the business.
This has been our best ever year, we have made and sold about 1800 stoves, thats at least 35 per cent up on last year and we have noticed a growth in interst in the north west particularly.
In the last year or so there has been an increase in interest in woodburners with boilers which can feed the central heating.
They cost more about 5,000 as opposed to about 600 and the payback time is obviously longer, but they are becoming massively more popular. Woodburners can be used in conjunction with other green energy systems too, such as solar panels and ground source heat pumps.
And John, who set up business in his native Ormskirk after selling his stake in a stove building business he had launched in Halifax, added: What I like is that wood is either free or it can be bought from your local farmer so your money goes to him and he might spend it in the local greengrocers.
It doesnt go to a faceless multi-national energy company