FOR heating rooms individually or in-dependently, one has the choice between open coal fires, enclosed stoves, gas fires, and electric radiators. With any of these can be combined the heat from radiators supplied from a central boiler. Or hot-water heating may be used entirely.
The fuel used in enclosed stoves for house-heating being anthracite coal in about every case, enclosed stoves may be considered to be covered by this heading.
Anthracite leaves but a very small percentage of ash when burned, and, ton for ton, develops more heat than any other variety of coal. It is also considerably more expensive than ordinary household coals. This last fact is, however, more than offset by the great efficiency of anthracite stoves, which enables them to keep a room warm at a lower cost than that of any other method of heating, hot-water excepted.
In making the comparison with open fires one must place to the credit of the stove that it is doing its work continuously by night as well as by day, so that in the coldest weather a room is comfortably warm when first entered in the morning.
Anthracite stoves give very little trouble. Beyond their having to be stoked and shaken out twice in the 24 hours, and the ashpan requiring occasional emptying, they dem .nd practically no attention.
To do its work well a stove of this kind should be very carefully set if it delivers its fumes into a chimney. The usual arrangement is to block the fireplace with an iron plate, through a hole in which the stove outlet pipe passes.
If the plate is badly fitted, so that air can get round its edges into the chimney, the draught through the stove itself will be short-circuited; with the result that the fire will tend to go out if the damper is set for slow combustion.
An anthracite stove should have a damper on the outlet side in addition to that below the grate. The first is unable to stop the draught altogether, and should never be pushed full in except when the lower dumper is shut, as otherwise fumes may come into the room.
Its purpose is to prevent air which leaks in round the door or through joints in the stove fanning up the fire too much. It should be closed after the stove has been stoked up for the night.
The size and aspect of the room to be heated should be considered when selecting a stove. The makers will give advice on the point. A room facing and exposed to the north will need a considerably larger stove than one facing south.
An anthracite stove in the hall will be appreciated in very cold weather, as the warmth from it will ascend the staircases to the upper rooms, which will have the chill taken off them if the doors are left open during the day.
Anthracite stoves include some designs which allow the front to be opened and convert the stove for the time being into what is practically an open fire as regards direct radiation of heat.
Considered from the standpoint of what the heat costs, this is at present the most expensive method, though hi some ways the ideal. If current could be supplied at a sufficiently low rate, heating by electricity would doubtless be extended enormously. Even as things are, electric radiators may be used with advantage under some conditions.
For example, a Chilly room which will not be occupied long enough to make the lighting of a fire worth while, may be rendered habitable by the glow from a portable electric radiator directed on to the person requiring warmth; as radiant heat warms what it strikes without having to heat the air though which it passes.
These are very convenient in several ways. They can be lit or extinguished in a moment; they are absolutely cleanly; they raiso no dust; and they can be regulated to a nicety. Their qualities recommend them for use in rooms in which a fire is needed only for a short time, or only occasionally: dining-rooms and bedrooms, for example, – and for flats in which the storage of solid fuel presents a difficult problem.
The fumes from a gas fire should be given a free escape into the atmosphere through a chimney or flue. If allowed to enter the room they will make it very stuffy and less healthy, and damage decorations, books , and other things.
The gas control should permit some only of the elements to be used if the full heat of the stove is not required. A few elements at full heat are more efficient than the whole number with the gas turned down. At the same time, elements should not be over-driven or they will probably emit smells.
Though ox-pensive to install, hot-water heating apparatus is economical in use, as all the heat given out helps to warm the house.
Radiators are very suitable for staircases and passages, and in rooms can be used in conjunction with other means of heating employed to augment the steady and comparatively low temperature maintained by the hot water.
Whore a house has a collar, no special boiler chamber need be provided, and this means a considerable saving of expense. It is not essential to have the boiler at a lower level than the lowest floor, but it is best placed there, since having the boiler at the lowest point of the system improves circulation.
Every radiator should have a control valve for regulation of heat, and an air-cock for releasing any air that may accumulate. The control valves make it easy to direct heat to where it is most wanted.
During severe weather every radiator in the house must be brought into the circulation, to prevent freezing up at any point.
The open coal or wood fire is still beloved, and probably will remain so for many years to come, by the majority of Britons, on account of its cheerfulness, which is not equalled in any other method of heating. But its supremacy is being steadily undermined by the dirt, trouble and labour which it causes, and by the demand for storage space for fuel that it makes.
On the score of efficiency it shows up better than may popularly be supposed, thanks to great improvements in modern grates, though still handicapped by the fact that most chimneys are formed on outside walls. In its favour is the promotion of good ventilation of the room in which it burns, as it demands a constant supply of air which must be replaced from somewhere outside the room itself. An open-fired room is seldom stuffy.
On the other hand, every coal fire contributes its quotum to the general pollution of the atmosphere by smoke, which in towns is serious. So every householder will be doing something for the public good if part at least of the fuel burned in his open fire is of the semi-coke variety, which, while making a cheerful fire, emits practically no smoke.