Sunday 11 January, 2015 by Uncle Spike
When it comes to heating our home, we are slightly off the beaten track. There is no mains piped natural gas in these parts (major cities only), so our heating needs are met by a coal-fired furnace supplying hot water to panel radiators throughout the house. We also run our lovely wood-burner for general heat downstairs – far more cosy than central heating I think. The economics speak for themselves; with 300+ trees, we always have wood to burn, even if not ‘conventional large logs’; cut off’s from citrus trees burn well once seasoned. My motto; if it burns, it can heat us.
When we first constructed the house, there was no property on the land, or even fences or any connected services, which enabled us to make every decision during the entire project (which we self-managed to our designs). One such decision being the options for fuel choice. Electric heating is scarily expensive here in Turkey, so is Diesel fuel. One other option was LPG (Liquid Petroleum Gas), but to be honest, living in an area where we get prolonged summers with daily temperatures of well over 40C (105F), and add the fact that we are surrounded by mountains clad in fire-risk-prone pine forests, I was never that comfortable having a one-and-a-half-tonne gas bomb in the back yard. To control costs, I also do much of the servicing and maintenance myself, and gas scares me (remembering my first time with gas of course). Hence we opted for coal, a resource mined locally here and readily available. Costs are pretty well governed too, as it’s the staple fuel source for much of the rural population of Türkiye.
There’s also this ‘man-thing’ with me, that to generate heat, one has to expend physical effort and burn something. Perhaps the love of the manual process is some Neanderthal throwback, I dunno, but to actually ‘light’ the fuel, and all the physical shenanigans that go hand-in-hand with running a coal furnace, to me, is sort of deemed to be ‘a bit more proper’ when it comes to heating one’s home.
In reality we use the system pretty sparingly, as even coal costs can easily exceed our budget if used to any great extent (as we found out during the first winter). Generally we heat from the very last days of November until March, or maybe early April. Occasionally used downstairs to take the chill off, or when our short ‘winter’ hits at a time when there’s more than just me at home, but most of the time we just heat upstairs (bedrooms and bathrooms) at night to provide some basic level of creature comfort. We also found that to run the furnace all through the night at the lowest setting (boiler return water temperature of 40C, 105f) manages to keep small person away from the doctors surgery each winter – simple economics of coal prices verses medical bills 🙂
And so…. here’s “Terrance the Termodinamik” (Turkish brand name)
This beastie is semi-automated, so once lit (even though that’s quite a process in itself), the nugget-size coal pieces are auto-fed by an auger into the burn chamber from a hopper attached to the side. The hopper takes about 200kg (440 lbs) – that’s 8 bags of coal, which can last anywhere from 36 hours through to 8 days, depending on usage. Of course, as we opt for limited usage, normally we can make that last 6-7 days on average, burning on low from say 6pm until 7am.
For some insane reason, I wanted to share with you my monthly dirty day… No, no, no, it’s not like that at all. I’m talking about the cleaning and servicing required of said friend, Terrance. That’s another post to come later me thinks.
Well, that was different, eh?