Friday, 30 October 2015

Winter Heating Revisited

In the Balkan countries — I have never seen them anywhere else — one can get stoves that burn central heating oil or diesel fuel. I don’t mean those awful cylindrical flue-less kerosene (paraffin) stoves that fill the house with fumes and generate about a pint of water (in the form of vapour) for every gallon of fuel they burn, but stoves that fit onto a metal flue, just like a wood- or coke-burning stove. I have one of these and it works very well.

I also have a small wood-burning stove which I made, with the help of an arc welder and an angle grinder, out of an old calor gas bottle. This too works very well. So every winter I have to decide — wood or diesel this year? Much depends on price and availability of the two fuels, and here in Greece that is very variable, as the local authorities permit or don’t permit cutting of certain areas in the island’s forests, and as the central government does yet more lunatic things with the price and tax on central heating oil. (One has to present one’s tax registration number, and an electricity bill, to buy central heating oil — this is supposed to combat the black market, which asks for no such things, so in fact, like most Greek government plans, it does exactly the opposite from its declared intentions.)

Actually I don’t really have to decide; either stove fits on the flue, and it’s a twenty-minute job to take one stove out and fit the other one. At least, it ought to be a twenty-minute job, and sometimes indeed it is, but sometimes Sod’s Law operates and it becomes a three-act drama, with flues collapsing in a shower of soot and gallons of fuel oil flooding the kitchen floor.

So this year — this morning in fact — I came up with a solution:

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