Archive for Downsizer For an ethical approach to consumption
 


       Downsizer Forum Index -> Energy Efficiency and Construction/Major Projects
Armchair

Gas central heating v open fire

I'm in the process of buying my first flat - the ground floor flat in a converted terraced house. The flat has two working fireplaces and gas central heating. What are the environmental, ethical and financial implications of using one heating method over the other? Is a mixture of the two the best way to go?
Northern_Lad

It's what I do.

The central heating is there first thing, and before I get home from work, to take the chill and damp off the house. Should it get cold then I stick on the fire and shut the door. When things start to melt (ice-cream, candles, metal, the usual) I open the room door.
Silas

And me. Just can't beat a real fire this time of year. Better than a telly!
judith

It works for me too. I like to be warm in the morning when I'm showering, getting dressed, so the heating is on. But I can't sleep if the bedroom is too warm, so I will just have a fire downstairs in the evening, and leave the heating off.
You definitely have the best of both worlds.
Jonnyboy

An open fire heats the sky, warms your heart and freezes your back.
Northern_Lad

Jonnyboy wrote:
An open fire heats the sky, warms your heart and freezes your back.

...if you're outside. Most of us now live in contructions called 'houses' where we can can contain most of the heat from the fire and circulate it around a reasonably contained space.
Jonnyboy

Nope. An indoor open fire is woefully inefficient. Even if you don't use one for central heating then a woodburner type closed fire is far better than an open hearth.
Behemoth

Northern_Lad wrote:
Most of us now live in contructions called 'houses'.


Wooo, look at him with his modern ways.
sean

He didn't necessarily include himself in 'most of us'.
Northern_Lad

sean wrote:
He didn't necessarily include himself in 'most of us'.

Had I been speaking on behalf of MJ I could have said "most of me..." Laughing
Andy B

Jonnyboy wrote:
Nope. An indoor open fire is woefully inefficient. Even if you don't use one for central heating then a woodburner type closed fire is far better than an open hearth.


But they are good for the soul, interesting to look at. Radiators on the other hand ........................................ boring
Silas

Yep. Sometimes you just have to say "Bugger the environment - I'm having a nice fire"
dougal

Northern_Lad wrote:
Jonnyboy wrote:
An open fire heats the sky, warms your heart and freezes your back.

...if you're outside. Most of us now live in contructions called 'houses' where we can can contain most of the heat from the fire and circulate it around a reasonably contained space.

Jonnyboy wrote:
Nope. An indoor open fire is woefully inefficient. Even if you don't use one for central heating then a woodburner type closed fire is far better than an open hearth.


Just so.
An *open* fire is a decorative rather than functionally efficient item.
And it is a splendidly attractive feature.

If its burning biofuel (wood) then its just more expensive than need be, rather than a carbon consideration.
Enclosed fires ("stoves") extract more heat from the same fuel and send less of it up the chimney. One can get rather smart stoves that are "inset" into an existing fireplace, and with a large window in the front, give much of the atmosphere of an open fire, and rather more heat.

Open fires also extract lots of warm air from the room and send it up the chimney. And that warm air would have been partially heated by the central heating... The air going up the chimney needs to be replaced, which makes for draughts. And the need to supply adequate air for combustion means that one shouldn't get too carried away with the draught-proofing...

Another aspect to be remembered is that the chimney of an unlit fire still offers a nice vent for the warm air to leave that room. Warm air rises. And it'll rise up the chimney and away.
(Partially) blocking unused chimneys can prevent a large amount of heat loss. There is a product called a "chimney balloon" for the purpose, but old pillows or even newspaper will do the job.
Remember to leave a tell-tale to remind you to unblock the chimney before lighting that fire... Shocked
I said "partially blocking" because you should leave a small opening (an inch diameter?) so as to allow a little airflow to prevent damp. A bit of pipe wedged in place by the pillows should suffice.

I think *two* fireplaces in a flat sounds excessive, and thought should perhaps be given to stopping one of them up.
wellington womble

BUT, don't involve finding wood, paying for it, stacking it (if your house is terraced, you somehow have to get it from the front to the back to store it, else you'll have nowhere to put your car, and it will all get nicked) chop it, find some kindling, drag it in from the wood pile, and get the fire going.

To have a real fire, we have to take down next door's garden fences and barrow several tonnes of wood down the access lane, over the garden and up a 6 foot slope into the shed. And then by the basekt 100 foot back down the garden into the house. Every year.

We still do it though........

Wood is carbon neutral, expensive and can be awkward to store and cart aound. Can't beat it for entertainment. Woodburners are more efficient, and use less wood, therefore are cheaper and involve less carting.

Gas is anti-green, cheap and convinient. Yer pays yer money!
Andy B

wellington womble wrote:
BUT, don't involve finding wood, paying for it, stacking it (if your house is terraced, you somehow have to get it from the front to the back to store it, else you'll have nowhere to put your car, and it will all get nicked) chop it, find some kindling, drag it in from the wood pile, and get the fire going.

To have a real fire, we have to take down next door's garden fences and barrow several tonnes of wood down the access lane, over the garden and up a 6 foot slope into the shed. And then by the basekt 100 foot back down the garden into the house. Every year.

We still do it though........

Wood is carbon neutral, expensive and can be awkward to store and cart aound. Can't beat it for entertainment. Woodburners are more efficient, and use less wood, therefore are cheaper and involve less carting.

Gas is anti-green, cheap and convinient. Yer pays yer money!


Blimey, anything for the easy life Laughing
Our woodstore is in the yard by the side of the house and if i am feeling lazy i can pass it through the sash window. As the crow flies the woodpile is about 12 foot from the wood burner.
cab

It really depends on how you get your wood home. If you hump it home in a car and then send most of the heat into the sky then I can't see it being carbon neutral. Doesn't smell or look as good as a coal fire anyway.

The thing about central heating (the reason why we're in the middle of getting it installed) is that its a really efficient way of heating a home, and it does something rather more fundamental than having a fire. By heating the fabric of the home, by having a little heat for more time than having a fire on will do for you, you can do a lot to prevent condensation and keep the 'chill' off a building.
dougal

Re: Gas central heating v open fire

Armchair wrote:
I'm in the process of buying my first flat - the ground floor flat in a converted terraced house. The flat has two working fireplaces and gas central heating. What are the environmental, ethical and financial implications of using one heating method over the other? Is a mixture of the two the best way to go?


Diversity of supply is a very worthwhile consideration. And having a source of heat that is not dependant upon the electricity mains (as gas and oil ch boilers are).

As a ground-floor flat, you might well have some storage area for a woodpile. If so, I'd consider installing an inset wood-burning ie biofuel (or multi-fuel - for diversity and possible fuel purchase convenience) stove into one fireplace and doing away with the other. Especially if you have a potential local supply of wood.
If you have a cheap source of wood for burning, it can be a very economical source of heat. And if its not transported far, it'll be nearly carbon-neutral.

However, if you are in an urban "smokeless zone" then I'm not sure any fireplace would be so worthwhile to keep.
Andy B

Re: Gas central heating v open fire

dougal wrote:
Armchair wrote:
I'm in the process of buying my first flat - the ground floor flat in a converted terraced house. The flat has two working fireplaces and gas central heating. What are the environmental, ethical and financial implications of using one heating method over the other? Is a mixture of the two the best way to go?


Diversity of supply is a very worthwhile consideration. And having a source of heat that is not dependant upon the electricity mains (as gas and oil ch boilers are).

As a ground-floor flat, you might well have some storage area for a woodpile. If so, I'd consider installing an inset wood-burning ie biofuel (or multi-fuel - for diversity and possible fuel purchase convenience) stove into one fireplace and doing away with the other. Especially if you have a potential local supply of wood.
If you have a cheap source of wood for burning, it can be a very economical source of heat. And if its not transported far, it'll be nearly carbon-neutral.

However, if you are in an urban "smokeless zone" then I'm not sure any fireplace would be so worthwhile to keep.


Doesn't smokeless only cover coal not wood ?
dougal

cab wrote:
{wood} Doesn't smell or look as good as a coal fire anyway.

That's a cultural and background thing... Anyway, now you live in Cambridge, you can't just go out on the beach and gather up the coal, y'noo, pet...
dougal

Re: Gas central heating v open fire

Andy B wrote:
Doesn't smokeless only cover coal not wood ?

Don't have a clue about proper stove installations, but a brother in London is not allowed to burn wood on his open fire...
sean

Re: Gas central heating v open fire

Andy B wrote:


Doesn't smokeless only cover coal not wood ?


Nope. If you have a wood-burning stove in a smokeless zone it should be fitted with a catalytic cleaner. Or be a Clearview which are efficient enough to meet the emissions standards. I would imagine that the chances of any enforcement are infinitessimally small.
cab

dougal wrote:
cab wrote:
{wood} Doesn't smell or look as good as a coal fire anyway.

That's a cultural and background thing... Anyway, now you live in Cambridge, you can't just go out on the beach and gather up the coal, y'noo, pet...


*sniff*

I haven't warmed myself on a beach coal fire for years. Used to do that on holiday in far away Newbiggin Crying or Very sad
Armchair

dougal wrote:

I think *two* fireplaces in a flat sounds excessive, and thought should perhaps be given to stopping one of them up.


As the two reception rooms have been knocked through to create one room, both fires are effectively in the same room! I only plant o use one - the other will remain as an attractive feature.

Plenty of food for thought in this thread, thank you!
Treacodactyl

How long do you plan to be there? A decent stove and lined chimney will cost a fair bit whereas you can have an open wood fire for high days and holidays with little or no money. Although, unless you know what you're doing you should get the chimney inspected. Another problem with open fires is that you can get smoke blowing back into the room depending on your chimney, especially on a week like this one which is often when you want a nice fire.
James

I’d go for efficient gas CH with a woodburner in the living room
We have this and it allows us to have top-up heating in cold times, or turn the CH off and just have the woodburner, or have the central heating on apart from the living room and have a fire(for times when a fire would be nice).
The woodstove looks lovely when fired up- just as nice (nearly as nice?) as an open fire, but MUCH more efficient. They look really good in a room, and when they’re not being used, you don’t loose all your warmth up an open chimney.
dougal

I mentioned an "inset" woodburner.
This is the sort of thing I had in mind
http://www.eurostove.co.uk/contentitempage~ContentID~266119.aspx
angie

You will lose your heat up the chimney if the open fire isn't lit .
Armchair

Treacodactyl wrote:
How long do you plan to be there? A decent stove and lined chimney will cost a fair bit whereas you can have an open wood fire for high days and holidays with little or no money. Although, unless you know what you're doing you should get the chimney inspected. Another problem with open fires is that you can get smoke blowing back into the room depending on your chimney, especially on a week like this one which is often when you want a nice fire.


A good few years I would have thought.
I'm now torn between the open fire (looks nicer but less efficient) or a woodburner (not quite so rustic and more expensive but more efficient). Decisions, decisions...

Dougal, the cost of the inset burner is a bit prohibitive for me. I'm more likely to go with a stove-type I think.
Gervase

If you've got an open fire that's only used for high days and holidays, consider one of these. People who have them swear by them. Just remember to remove it before lighting your next fire!
Green Man

A real fire or woodburner is great in the winter for combating S.A.D. They have been used for years in fact Dr. Frederick Cook, a ship's doctor on a nineteenth-century Belgian Antarctic expedition, described how the ship was trapped in the ice during the Antarctic winter and how the crew suffered from isolation ad the harsh weather conditions. Of all of these, the darkness appeared to affect the men most, and according to Cook, they "gradually... became affected, body and soul, with languor."
He described other psychiatric problems among the crew and concluded that, "The root cause of these disasters was the lack of the sun." He treated his men with direct exposure to an open fire and found that this seemed to help them.
Perhaps more of us should be 'cheered up' by an open fire. Very Happy
Green Man

Gervase wrote:
If you've got an open fire that's only used for high days and holidays, consider one of these. People who have them swear by them. Just remember to remove it before lighting your next fire!


I wish we had one last summer. We had a pigeon come down our chimney in a front room that we weren't using at that time of year. The pigeon caused a soot fall and flew around the room for a couple of days causing a real mess. Surprised Mad Crying or Very sad
dougal

Gervase wrote:
If you've got an open fire that's only used for high days and holidays, consider one of these. People who have them swear by them. Just remember to remove it before lighting your next fire!

I mention them on page 1, Gervase on page 2... who's going to plug them on page 3? Very Happy
Nanny

i loved our open fire and wanted one here but we got talked into a wood burner and i will admit i do like it, we can have the doors open if we want to look at the flames, it burns the free coke that we acquired last year and brought with us and takes the wood as well, we have an endless supply of free wood as long as we choose to collect and cut it so we have a free resource to compliment the oil central heating ....the wood burner is only 4 kw and not overpowering

we still manage to keep the heating at a low level to keep the fabric of the house warm though there are other issues that have to be sorted here before the whole lot is sorted.......
sean

dougal wrote:

I mention them on page 1, Gervase on page 2... who's going to plug them on page 3? Very Happy


I would, but you've already quoted the link onto page three. I'll have a go if the thread reaches four pages.
nettie

Armchair wrote:
As the two reception rooms have been knocked through to create one room, both fires are effectively in the same room! I only plant o use one - the other will remain as an attractive feature.




Good. If you light both, one will burn more ferociously than the other, draw it's oxygen down the other chimney, and you will end up with a room full of smoke Shocked My dad did it when I was 8, I've never forgotten it!!

This is a great thread, we're hoping to move to a cottage and had romatic ideas for open fires. (In addition to C/H!) A stove is clearly the way to go. Plus it has the added bonus of being able to cook a stew on top of it!

Most of the places we're looking at aren't on the gas mains - does anyone know the differences in running costs between oil and gas central heating?

Sorry to hijack the thread!
Gervase

Dunno about gas, but our oil is paid out of an £80-a-month standing order. I hope that will need to be reduced now we've got the attic insulated. That's for all heating and hot water in a detached four-bedroomed house.
angie

No gas here, although it is in the road so I could get it put in if I wanted. Oil central heating is fine but the price of oil has gone up considerably. I have a 1200 litre tank that I fill 2 or 3 times a year - the hot water is on all the time. Biggish 4/5 bed house with good insulation. The woodburner adds a whole load of heat - I never pay for wood- but I can't always be bothered with it. Some people run their central heating from a woodburner.
James

The government has a “Standard Assesment Procedure” (SAP) to work out the efficiency of domestic dwellings (mostly for new build developers). Within this, they have identified relative costs and efficiencies of various heating methods.
This is information is taken from a table constructed by Holymoor Consulting (http://www.holymoor.co.uk/), whose data came from
http://projects.bre.co.uk/sap2005/pdf/SAP2005.pdf

Its based on average running cost at 2005 prices.

.........................cost per KWh............Kg of CO2 per KWh
Mains Gas ..............1.63p.......................0.194
LPG(tank/ bottle)....4.32p......................0.234
Heating oil.............2.17p.......................0.265
House Coal...........1.91p.......................0.291
Electricity...............7.12p*....................0.422**


* Based on average domestic cost, 2005
** Based on average electrical production methods & materials, 2005.


So in short, LPG costs much more per heating unit than mains gas, or oil, but still offers a low CO2 option.
       Downsizer Forum Index -> Energy Efficiency and Construction/Major Projects
Page 1 of 1
Home Home Home Home Home