So when we moved into the cottage it had a traditional open fire. A very welcome feature given that the cottage has no central heating. When we first moved in we loved the novelty of having a fire and quite enjoyed laying it and sitting by the fire on a lazy Sunday afternoon. However, last winter was miserable. Really miserable. There is a big difference in lighting a first because you choose to and lighting one because you have to. Getting home from work when it’s dark and having to clear out and re-lay and light a fire when you have a toddler demanding your attention is not an enjoyable chore. We do have some electric radiators around the house in the bedrooms etc but they don’t really warm the downstairs as well as a fire does. Not only that but having a massive hole in your living room, even in the form of a chimney, does make it a bit chilly.
The long term plan had always been to add in a log burner when we did the big works on the cottage but as we have found winters so grim in the cottage we decided to get the burner installed in November so we could get some benefit from it this year. Though I really think it was my husbands way of trying to make me less grumpy as I tended to be the one having to deal with the fire as I generally arrive home first. So we enlisted a professional to rip out the old fireplace, open it up to the original size (which is pretty hard to determine beforehand) and then (a week or so later) fit a log burner. Now we were really lucky to get some great advice about burners. Most people tend to live by the mantra of bigger is better but when it comes to log burners than that isn’t true. It is really important to size your burner correctly for the size of room. If it’s too large then the burner will overheat the room or you’ll end up using it inefficiently and it’ll cost more in fuel. A burner should be kept at a fairly even temperature in order to work efficiently. Too hot and it can damage the components or flue. Too cold and it will go out and just not keep you warm. A burner can be run for several consecutive days if used properly it just needs a bit of tended to to keep it ticking over.
Anyhow I’ve become distracted talking about burners. As it turned out once the fire was ripped out we had a lovely sized space to work with and after much research J purchased an AGA multifuel burner to fill it. It has proven to be a great little burner and I couldn’t recommend it enough. It fact since installing it we have discovered that another of our friends has the same one and also loves it. We’ve had the stone at the back re-pointed but we will get the sides re-plastered when we get the major cottage work done. It has really changed the way we look at the room and it seems so much more open now. And honestly it has really improved our lives. It took a couple of days to get used to how to use it properly but now we shut it down every night and it keeps burning slowly through the night releasing minimal heat (but still some heat nonetheless). Then every morning we just open it up, wait for it to warm back up and then add more fuel. It feels so much safer leaving it burning when we are asleep or out and it is so much more efficient with fuel. Not only that but cleaning and maintaining it is so easy. It definitely provides more heat per unit of fuel than the open fire did and leaves behind far less ash. And as the chimney is now covered it feels like there is less heat escaping from the room. The surround still looks very messy but I still love it and J loves being able to brew coffee on top of it.