Talk

Advanced search

Is it cheaper to run an open fire in winter?

(27 Posts)
KerryMum Mon 01-Sep-08 10:20:46

Than central heating?

Worried about heat this winter. Am near the Atlantic coast (can see it) and it gets bitterly cold here in winter.

Have not had an open fire before because of ds1's asthma. But my next door neighbor's house is always toasty warm and she rarely runs the central heating, just the open fire and a bit of heating at night upstairs.

But is it really cost effective?

no idea kerry but 9 shouldn't think so. a ire only warms one room doesn't it? and you have that thing of someone shouting 'shut the door' all the time. and coal is pricey....

but i don't have one so no idea

Lauriefairycake Mon 01-Sep-08 10:25:05

very, very cost effective

wood fired boilers and wood fired stoves that go into boilers are the heating of choice in Scandinavia - very efficient, environmentally friendly and warm

on Grand Designs they put one stove which heated the whole 4 bedroom house (it went into underfloor heating) and did all the hot water they needed - £300 per year apparently

very envious

Lauriefairycake Mon 01-Sep-08 10:26:07

use wood, not coal (coal still cheaper than gas though). If you don't live in a big house then you're mostly in one room anyway surely?

KerryMum Mon 01-Sep-08 10:26:17

oh no, don't have a stove, just a fireplace. But at my neighbors she keeps sitting room door open and heat just fills the downstairs at least.

central heating is gas. Have underfloor heating as well.

KerryMum Mon 01-Sep-08 10:27:28

it's not a big house. Downstairs - sitting room and kitchen\dining, stairs between to 3 beds up. 2 baths, one up, one down. the one down is always freezing in winter - no radiator.

Millarkie Mon 01-Sep-08 10:30:55

We use our open fire during weekends in winter rather than put our heating on - but to get a good heat you need to use coal (the efficiency is better for a wood stove than an open fire so they will heat a room with wood). Coal is pricey, wood isn't that cheap unless you find a cheap source (we store all the garden trimmings etc) - if you burn coal/wood then you will need your chimney swept twice a year (£55 a time round here)

laweaselmys Mon 01-Sep-08 12:32:47

Depends what you are using as fuel and where you are going to get it from etc. My parents heat their living room (where they and us when we were kids) spend virtually all of their time in the winter, with wood they cut themselves from regularly topping a dozen laylandi that are stupidly planted at the front of their house. They've never managed to cut them all the way down and they've always got free wood. You have to be a bit handy with a chainsaw though! And very importantly there is a technique to burning wood efficiently. You don't need to use loads of wood and it shouldn't have big flames most of the time... if your neighbour is good at it (and their house seems warm!) ask them to show you how they do it. In my experience even an open fire doesn't require lots of door shutting once you've got the heat going open the door and it will warm the rest of the house too.

DP and I are intending on mainly heating our little terrace house again by an open wood burning fire in the front room, but our bedroom is directly above, so it will heat up our room as well. Plus being victorian the front room would get a bit damp if we didn't dry it out with the fire every so often.

If you depend on your central heating to dry your clothes in the winter I think you would have a problem though.

Chocolateteapot Mon 01-Sep-08 12:37:47

There is definitely a knack to burning wood. DH and I don't have it yet and got through £100 of wood in about 6 weeks. So are going to have to try much harder this year.

Before we had a woodburner, we tried an open fire but it really didn't heat the room at all well (it is quite long). The stove heats the room, hallway and DD's bedroom above it.

Libra Mon 01-Sep-08 12:38:18

We have no central heating at all. We use a wood-burning stove downstairs and leave all doors upstairs open for the heat to rise up.

Make sure that the wood you use is dry, otherwise it will do nasty things to your chimney.

We pay around four hundred pounds for a big load of wood that will get us through the winter. DH and DS1 are very handy with axes.

Pruners Mon 01-Sep-08 12:41:49

Message withdrawn

KerryMum Mon 01-Sep-08 12:44:12

am thinking of this but buying fireplace supplies (grate, brushes, etc.) not a cheap endeavor sad

Someone told me first time I have to be careful not to build too big a fire? fireplace never used before.

before you use the fire you need to get the chimney swept.

janmoomoo Mon 01-Sep-08 14:13:09

A fire in the fireplace/grate is not efficient because most of the heat goes up the chimney. Wood burning stoves are much better and efficient.

Flibbertyjibbet Mon 01-Sep-08 14:45:30

We have a coal fire plus central heating. Open fires tend to warm the whole chimney as it goes through the house.
We burn mostly wood on it though as dp is a builder and he often brings home wood from jobs rather than the customer pay for a skip to put it in.

So in our case much cheaper to have the coal fire on but we only tend to do it in autumn/spring when you need something to take the chill off in the evenings. In winter we have it on as well as the central heating.

Yes you should not build up a fire too high.

If you already have the fireplace and grate then it will be much cheaper this winter to use that, as log burning stoves are expensive. Then save up next year for a wood burning stove. Those are much more efficient as a) only one little pipe takes the smoke out, and b) the things are made from iron so they act like a whopping radiator and send heat out from all sides.

Our toast is muchchchchch nicer done over an open fire though.

expatinscotland Mon 01-Sep-08 14:47:01

it would be around here because the beaches are loaded with driftwood in winter and there's plenty of space to dry wood in this house.

laweaselmys Mon 01-Sep-08 15:21:02

Roughly speaking perfect way to make an open fire give out as much heat as possible(IMO):

You need to make sure as much air is getting in as possible. Start with a raised grate and make sure any tray/space underneath is empty/swept clear of old ash. Then put a layer of scrunched up newspaper balls in your grate, on top of this put a few layers of twigs but stack them so each layer the twigs are pointing a different way (so it looks like a lattice) put two or three smallish logs on top (again bottom two say going across, and then the one on top at a different angle to let air in). Light the paper to start it. There will be a lot of flames to start!

Once all the small stuff has burnt away, the big flames have died away and the branches are settling at the bottom and are burning all over (you might need to turn them occasionally) you can put a larger log on top. again make sure you stack it so it's at an angle, say half on the bottom of the grate and leaning half up on the branches in there so lots of air can get through to the flames and start it burning the log. From then on you only need to ever have two logs in the grate at a time, one that is half burnt away to prop up the new log and start it burning. Roughly speaking you need to rotate each log once whilst it is burning, once the bottom side is nicely charcoaled turn it over, you get more heat radiating from the hot charcoaled side than the few flames underneath. It also sets up the new log to burn properly.

This is the best method I have found. I'm sure you will find something that works for you, but hopefully I have given you somewhere to start!

maltloafeater Mon 01-Sep-08 15:28:54

Not sure why Ds having asthma should be a factor.
Open fires need air to run efficiently and I always feel the heat from a coal fire is somehow less stuffy than a centrally heated box where every draft is excluded.

I think the figure is that the air in a room with an open fire is changed 5 times for every change of air in a centrally heated house.

SIL lives in said stuffy box and her kids are always snuffling and catching something, while mine get far fewer colds. I am convinced that the heating in our respective houses has something to do with this.

KerryMum Mon 01-Sep-08 16:10:03

the dust from the fire. he's very allergic to dust, exacerbates his asthma.

snorkle Mon 01-Sep-08 19:16:58

you need to check there is a good 'draw' up the chimney. Not sure exactly how you do this but roughly you hold something smokey underneath and make sure the smoke gets pulled up the chimney. If there isn't a good draw, smoke from your fire will fill your room instead (this would NOT be good for your ds). This happened to us and we had to have a new cowl on top & ended up getting a stove.

Guadalupe Mon 01-Sep-08 19:20:00

Our fire heats the front room but not the rest of the house. We still have the heating on part of the day but I do turn the radiator off in there.

cremolafoam Mon 01-Sep-08 19:23:09

yes if you have a back boiler and you can get logs cheaply.we run ours as a top up in winter and get hot water from it too.
usually have the heating on from 5.30- 7.30 pm which gives time to get the fire started and hot.then heating is off and we have the blazing fir until bed time.s'lovely
a trailer full of logs costs £20 and would last about a six weeks

LooptheLoop Tue 02-Sep-08 16:04:27

Sorry to hijack but question for snorkle - we have this problem with our chimney drawing properly and have changed the cowl. Did the stove help - we're considering putting one in but are worried that the smoke will still come into the room? Thanks

Bronze Tue 02-Sep-08 16:06:13

We find out open fire doesn't give out much heat but as we can't afford to put the heating on the heat we do get is better than nothing. Used with free wood that is. A stove with be preferable

Antdamm Tue 02-Sep-08 19:57:29

I have a stove, and we got free wood from a local shed company, who are only to happy to get rid of it in summer, so we fill up our shed and its a years supply. In winter if we hadnt stocked up, they used to sell their bags for a couple o quid, a bag would heat our flat for a full day, we usually ended up havin to open a window.

We were planning to get a back boiler installed on it, therefore you can direcvt most of the heaqt to gfo towards heating water, which is brilliant and very cheap!!

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now