De­signed to re­move the chill and save en­ergy

In­door fire­places are syn­ony­mous with Western Cape life­styles, writes An­naMarie Smith

Business Day - Home Front - - HOME FRONT -

FIRE­PLACES de­signed us­ing new tech­nol­ogy are in­creas­ingly seen in mod­ern coastal homes where qual­ity, aes­thet­ics and com­fort have been pri­ori­tised.

New­com­ers to the Cape are well known for not set­tling into Cape win­ters quite as com­fort­ably as they ad­just to sum­mer liv­ing on ve­ran­das, close to beaches and moun­tains. Yet, with a bit of help from a thriv­ing fire­place in­dus­try, they are seen to con­vert long wet win­ters into so­cia­ble pe­ri­ods of fine liv­ing, aided by de­lec­ta­ble viti­cul­ture and gas­tro­nomic plea­sures. De­pend­ing on bud­get, ge­o­graph­i­cal ori­en­ta­tion and knowl­edge, crack­ling fires can be heat ef­fi­cient, cost ef­fec­tive, en­vi­ron­men­tally friendly and aes­thet­i­cally pleas­ing.

A com­pet­i­tive edge among sup­pli­ers and im­porters of dif­fer­ent types of in­door fire­place so­lu­tions in this re­gion makes for a broad range of choices for con­sumers. Ex­pert ad­vice pro­vides cut­ting edge tech­nol­ogy that goes be­yond vis­ual ap­pear­ances and ther­a­peu­tic qual­i­ties. Res­i­dents are able to in­vest in any num­ber of en­ergy-sav­ing, heat-ef­fi­cient and healthy va­ri­eties, from wood, gas, oil to elec­tric­ity.

Ar­chi­tects and de­vel­op­ers agree that the ma­jor­ity of de­signs for new builds in the Cape in­clude in­door fire­places. Cape Town ar­chi­tect Han­lie Booyens of BE3 Ar­chi­tects says in­door fire­places are part and par­cel of in­te­rior de­signs in the Western Cape. She says it forms an in­te­gral part of the ear­li­est stages of plan­ning a new home with its own­ers.

As a re­sult, she says, ap­prox­i­mately 90% of BE3’s ar­chi­tec­tural plans fa­cil­i­tate the in­stal­la­tion of in­door fire­places, ei­ther dur­ing the build­ing process, or make pro­vi­sion for in­stal­la­tion at a later stage.

Whereas some prop­erty agents say fire­places fea­ture more promi­nently in south-fac­ing lo­ca­tions, as op­posed to ar­eas with north­ern ori­en­ta­tions, Raw­son Properties Bergvliet fran­chise prin­ci­pal John Westin says that fire­places are not com­monly listed as pre­req­ui­sites for house pur- chases in this area. How­ever, he says when homes do fea­ture at least one fire­place, it adds to the over­all aes­thet­ics and as a re­sult is an ideal mar­ket­ing tool for sell­ing houses in the South­ern Sub­urbs.

Re­gard­ing tra­di­tional fire­places, Westin says some older houses built around Bergvliet and Con­stan­tia re­flect a strong Bri­tish her­itage dat­ing back to the 50’s and 60’s.

In ad­di­tion to good in­su­la­tion for all weather con­di­tions, he says high ef­fi­ciency wood fire­places in th­ese houses were de­signed for op­ti­mal draw­ing ca­pac­ity and min­i­mal smoke out­put.

He says al­though some are open sys­tems known to lose heat and pro­duce more smoke com­pared to closed sys­tems, it re­mains a pop­u­lar choice.

Raw­son Prop­erty Group founder Bill Raw­son’s opin­ion is: “If a home owner wishes to up­grade his home, the in­stal­la­tion of an in­door braai will prob­a­bly add more to its value to­day than many such tra­di­tional ex­tras as a pool or an ex­tra garage.”

What im­proved the ef­fi­ciency of fire­places and wood stoves as far back as the 18th cen­tury was the con­vec­tion cham­ber, when air­flow was im­proved by pulling air from a base­ment while up­ward vent­ing was fa­cil­i­tated. To­day, ex­pert at­ten­tion to tech­ni­cal de­tail also al­lows for op­ti­mum heat­ing with limited car­bon emis­sions, en­ergy cost sav­ings, and clean in­te­rior air. Wood as a car­bon neu­tral, and a greater re­new­able re­source than the var­i­ous forms of fos­sil fu­els used to heat fires, is the most pop­u­lar, and as a re­sult mod­ern sys­tem are de­signed to en­able in­door air qual­ity.

Ac­cord­ing to global re­search, fire­places with an open hearth have the great­est neg­a­tive im­pact on in­door health and the qual­ity of the air. In coun­tries where green build­ing cer­ti­fi­ca­tion of homes is en­forced, builders are au­to­mat­i­cally dis­qual­i­fied when the mix­ture of gases and fine par­ti­cles from wood smoke is proven harm­ful to oc­cu­pants of a build­ing, as it does in the case of as vent-free or un­vented gas fire­places.

In­dus­try pro­fes­sion­als say whether home oc­cu­pants burn nat­u­ral gas, pel­lets or wood, high­ef­fi­ciency units draw com­bus­tion air in from the out­doors, which elim­i­nates the waste of al­ready heated in­door air, for the pur­pose of fu­elling a fire.

Booyens says the best in­door heat ef­fi­ciency achieved dur­ing Cape win­ters is through high-ef­fi­ciency, closed-sys­tem wood-burn­ing va­ri­eties.

And al­though gas fire­places are pop­u­lar due to easy main­te­nance and a smoke-free en­vi­ron­ment, in her ex­pe­ri­ence th­ese do not pro­vide the same heat lev­els.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa

© PressReader. All rights reserved.