One of the main things to look forward to in autumn and winter in Ireland, apart from enjoying afternoon walks through crispy leaves, wearing big jumpers and drinking hot drinks, is sitting by an open fire and toasting your toes. If you’re tempted by this thought, here are the pros and cons you should consider from having an open fire that might help you make up your mind about whether this is right for you.
There’s no denying that one of the biggest appeals of an open fire is the cosy factor, which is hard to beat. Coming home to the house after a cold, we and miserable day is made instantly better when you have a fire going in the living room. For instant relaxation, dim the lights, light the fire and settle yourself down to unwind with a glass of wine.
- Reliable heat source
If you experience a power outage, or if there’s another winter like that of 2010 on the way, having your open fire is a very reliable back up heat source should the worst happen and your normal home heating oil supply be interrupted. This could be due to faults with your boiler, condensation in the pipes freezing and creating a blockage, or poor weather making it impossible to deliver home heating oil if you run out. As a plan B, an open fire is a safe bet – just remember to have a plentiful stock of fuel for it and to keep it dry so that it lights.
- Alternative fuel supply
Most homes will rely on either gas fired heating or home heating oil to heat them, but for open fires there are alternative fuel sources allowing you to burn either coal, wood or peat (the three most popular) as an alternative fuel supply if one is in more plentiful supply at the time. In order to protect local air quality and the environment, any fuel you burn must be smokeless and suitable for the appliance you are burning it in. It is also illegal in Ireland to burn household waste.
Unfortunately, while it might look nice, an open fire is a very inefficient way of heating your home – as much as 90% of the heat goes up the chimney and is lost, so you will never get the full benefit of an open fire. In addition, unless you have a back boiler fitted which can heat the water in the radiators through the house, you will only heat the one room.
- Fire safety
Fire safety is a huge concern, and open fires need to be treated with caution – never leave them unattended, always have a fire guard on and make sure they are completely extinguished before you go to bed. You should also keep logs and other fuel for the fire stored away from the heat source, so there is little chance of them accidentally igniting.
- Professional cleaning
You will need to have your chimney swept at least twice a year to remove soot and debris that can build up with regular use. This will help prevent chimney fires, and it’s also important for your health too – you need to ensure the flue is clear so that you’re not breathing in harmful gases.