Unfortunately it is coming into the time of year where we must start thinking seriously about keeping our home warm for the winter. There is nothing worse than sitting in the cold and it is important we use the most economical fuel available to keep heating costs down over the cold period. The reality is that Ireland unfortunately gets very cold in the winter and fuel is big business.
Nowadays there are many types of central heating systems, including gas, electricity, oil, and solar powered systems. However most people also have an open fire or range to supplement the heating. If this unit is solid fuel, you will need wood, turf, briquettes, or coal to get you through the winter.
Your choice will of course be based on a number of criteria, the most important of which will be the type of appliance you will be burning the fuel on, and the cost of the fuel.
Living in a country such as Ireland, the first type of fuel for open fires or ranges which must be investigated is the humble sod of turf produced from our numerous boglands. Turf is one of the cheapest forms of fuel, especially if you own a strip of land at the bog. It can be harvested in abundance with the latest technology and is not the back breaking job it once was.
The downside of turf as a fuel is that it contains excessive levels of moisture. Burning high moisture content fuels can lead to the formation and build up of tar and creosote in stoves/cookers, flues and liners. This causes multiple problems with clogging and blocking of the natural airflow which is so necessary, not to mention the highly combustible nature of the deposit.
Firewood and logs are another popular option, particularly for landowners who may encounter fallen trees on their land, this can prove another cheap option. Wood should be well-seasoned and preferably have a low resin content. Any wood that has any kind of coating on the surface eg, varnish, or paint, should not be used in an open fire, stove, or range as harmful gases may be emitted on burning. The heat output is not as high as other solid fuels and you may find that a combination of logs and another type of solid fuel will enable you to keep the fire alight for a longer period. If you use wood or coal, you should have your chimney swept twice a year.
Another of the most traditional fuels for open fires is coal. Coal is an affordable energy source because of its stable price compared to other fuel sources. However the burning of coal is not environmental friendly because it produces harmful byproducts and gas emissions such as sulfur dioxide, carbon dioxide and nitrogen oxide that causes environmental pollution. However smokeless coal is slightly more environmentally friendly. Smoke emissions from smokeless coal are a fraction of those from traditional coal, producing up to 80 per cent less smoke, and 25 per cent less carbon dioxide.
In addition to the above, there are several briquetted fuels that have been manufactured for open fires. Briquettes have many benefits. They can often relatively produce more intense heat than other fuel. In fact, they are 40 per cent more efficient, as well as hotter and longer lasting than firewood. Briquettes create no smoke, soot, or carbon deposits. Depending on the base material, they produce no or little fly ash. Furthermore, briquettes do not emit gases or any toxic chemicals like sulfur.
There are a number of local fuel providers advertising their wares on the Galway Advertiser classified pages. For more information, go to classifieds.advertiser.ie.