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sold fuel cooker living . how does it work?

(6 Posts)
verysqueezedmiddle Sun 15-Sep-13 17:01:25

We have moved to an old house in the country and want to reduce the energy costs. We are looking at fitting a solid fuel or wood burner aga. I realise it will be hard work but reckon it will be a lot cheaper and warmer than what we currently have. Is anyone else running an aga on coal for cooking and heating?

What are the costs, the upsides and downs?

Indith Sun 15-Sep-13 17:19:07

We don't have one for cooking, just heating and water so not quite the same.

There are times that I hate it, there really are. going away over winter means you have to shit the water off and drain the system as of course you can't leave heating on a timer to guard against frozen pipes. You come back to a freezing house with no hot water. In the summer we use an electric shower, we don't light the fire. It means you don't have hot running water so washing up is a pain in the arse. We do have an immersion heater too but that is expensive and rubbish, we pop it on for kids bath and that's it. We got a dishwasher fairly recently which has helped that a lot! At this time of year it can be a pain too, we are using the fire but it would be too hot with it on all the time so lighting and stuff every day is just a chore plus it takes ages for the system to heat through from cold and you end up burning just as much fuel in the evening having a short, hot burn to heat the water tank as you would on a slow burn over the whole day.

The nice parts though. As soon as it gets to this time of year and everyone else is considering if they can justify putting the heating on or not we just switch to using the fire for water. it probably costs less than the electric does and it heats the house and water at the same time.

The system works by heating the water tank. then when the tank gets to the temp on the thermostat it flicks the heating pump on and heats the radiators instead. Water tank cools down, heating turns off. In effect that keeps the house at a steady temperature over 24 hours a day which is lovely. We have a switch to manually override that and keep the heating pump on if it is very cold and we want a heat boost. Fire on a low heat means radiators are warm, fire turned up means they are roasting. Pretty simple. And of course very efficient. it is very cheap to run. You learn to time things around the fire, nice deep bath for kids in the evening to run off some water then flick heating pump on so it isn't heating the water. Then when you go to bed you flick the pump off again so it heats teh tank overnight. Helps to avoid having heating on at night otherwise we get too hot!

We use coal not wood. Largely because we don't have storage space. Wood isn't as efficient either and would be more expensive to run.

In the winter proper we just have it on 24 hours a day 7 days a week. Get up in the morning and open all air vents. Riddle and empty ash and fill it with fuel. Takes 2 minutes tops. After a shower turn it down to a slow burn for the day. in the evening open air vents again for a heating boost. Damp down when you go to bed. A really good modern stove will pretty much act as though it is out when fully damped down then woosh back to life when you give it some air in the morning.

However, this winter will be the first year of both dh and me being out of the house full time. I may end up hating the bloody system soon!

I can't imagine having one for cooking is much different really though I'd suggest you'll want to have a little electric cooker too if you don't want to keep the fire on all the time through the summer months.

verysqueezedmiddle Sun 15-Sep-13 23:14:09

Indith that is really helpful. Can I ask how much you spend on coal each year? Just want to get an idea of costs. Also do you use anthracite or house coal?

Indith Mon 16-Sep-13 05:59:22

we use smokeless ovoids. they are £14 a bag. in winter we get through around 10 bags in 6 weeks. house coal is cheaper of course, depends if you are in a smoke free zone.

snowqu33n Mon 16-Sep-13 06:22:04

My sister has a gas-burning AGA and cooks everything on it. She got rid of the microwave etc. because she wanted to stop the ready meals and other stuff. It is only a part of her various systems for heating etc. she also has a wood burning stove in the living room and an underfloor eco-heating system that works like a reverse refrigerator with an element dug under the field outside. So, I don't know about anything but the cooking aspect but once you get into it and and have a few cookbooks you get used to it and use it for everything.
Modern wood-burning stoves are much more efficient than they used to be and usually burn the smoke twice, reducing the smoke output overall, and they are much safer than before. You can use the damper to keep the stove burning at a low rate all night and then it isn't cold in the morning. Depends which make and model you get.
We have just bought a wood-burning stove here which we'll use for all our heating in the winter and also for some cooking on the top and perhaps a pizza stone or some baked potatoes inside from time to time. The water boiler will run off kerosene which is common in this country.
I'd love to hear about anyone else's ideas for cooking on a wood-burning stove TBH as I've found only a few cookbooks available. Ours is a DutchWest.

Indith Tue 17-Sep-13 09:05:59

snow I think there is very little because people don't tend to cook on them really. You can simmer stuff if you have a hotplate on the top, you can leave porridge to do overnight or slow cook a stew through the day but if people are intending to cook on them too then they use ones that have separate ovens so then it is just like Aga cooking really.

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