Making the most of your fire
A large number of New Zealand homes are heated in winter courtesy of a multi-fuel burner, wood burner or open fire.
Very few of these, however, are connected to the hot water cylinder, which when used frequently during the colder months of the year consumes a large amount of electricity to keep the temperature at a required level. Throughout the months of May, June, July and August, traditionally the coldest months of the year in southern regions, the mere thought of limiting ones shower time to three or four minutes or only doing the washing once a week to help keep the power bill at a manageable level is something the majority of us would rather not contemplate. Most people would rather face the bottom figure of the household bill instead and worry about paying it at a later date. However there may be an alternative. Looking to the past may provide simple solutions for present problems. Working on the same principle as a coal range - the heating as well as cooking system found in thousands of homes in the early 1900s, piping is connected from the main heat source to the cylinder and whenever the fire is in use the water is heated. Of course there are still some costs attached to this and you still have to purchase fuel for the fire whether that is wood, coal, wood pellets or a combination of all three. And while you will have to continue to empty the ash pan regularly, it’s a small price to pay when you consider the overall amount you’ll save heating water. The one thing to keep in mind though is to turn down the thermostat on your hot water cylinder before you employ the services of your wet back. There’s little or no point in having the temperature set at 20 degrees or above when the warm glow from the fire is enough. You don’t want the hot water cylinder imploding because the outer structure cannot handle the constant boiling water inside or the majority of that valuable hot water is flowing forth from the roof vent.