Heating your Edinburgh period home

 

Period home-heating with a real fire
Period home-heating with a wood-burning stove

As autumn turns to winter, heating your Edinburgh period home can be a subject of much debate. Should you stick with traditional home-heating methods in keeping with the era? If this were the case, you would be limited to an open-hearth or stove. But, what if you wanted a more modern design? Edinburgh builder, Mackenzie Hughes looks at different ways of heating your Edinburgh period home to complement your chosen design and décor.

Heating needs efficient ventilation

One of the main factors when thinking about heating your Edinburgh period home is efficient ventilation. Georgian homes were designed to be draughty which would allow excess smoke from the hearth to escape. This, combined with construction materials such as lime mortar, would keep the home watertight but would enable the house to breath. The smoke issue was solved to a certain extent during the late 1800’s when inventor, Sir Benjamin Thompson, created a hearth that was brick-lined with angled walls. This drew the smoke more efficiently up the chimney rather than sending it back into the room. It was better, but wasn’t perfect. Victorian homes were still therefore, designed to allow stale air and coal gases to escape. This wasn’t maybe the best home ventilation system but it was perhaps healthier than having your home as air-tight as possible.

Modern thinking tends to be that by making your home air-tight, you’ll save money on energy bills. While this may certainly be true it has its drawbacks. If air and condensation aren’t allowed to escape you can be faced with the issue of black mould and damp. A good investment would be to consider a preservation treatment as a preventative measure to protect your investment. Especially, if your period property is undergoing a complete restoration.

Ventilation options

Good ventilation is crucial to avoid condensation build-up in your home. The most basic ventilation system is to open a window but in the middle of winter this might not be the best option. The next step is to fit a simple extractor fan but this will only remove the stale air, along with the heat which would add to your fuel costs. Installing a heat recovery ventilation system is a good option as it removes stale air and brings in fresh air from outside every two hours. It also allows your home to stay warm thus keeping down your fuel bills.

The benefits of a real fire

16014c003a-002__1477857065_176-253-96-181Nothing says ‘home’ like real fire. The smell of burning logs and the flicker of the flames. There’s something magical indeed about enjoying the heat from your favourite armchair. In fact, scientists have claimed that it has such a calming effect on the mind that it can significantly reduce blood pressure. If you reinstate a real fire in your home, you’ll instantly add value to the property. It does however, need careful planning and is a task best undertaken by a professional builder.

Multi-fuel stoves for every type of home

Once you’ve uncovered and reinstated your hidden fireplace, you can decide whether to opt for an open-fire or go for an alternative. Wood-burning or multi-fuel stoves have grown in popularity over the years. One of the reasons for this is that an open-fire can sometimes be inefficient with much of the heat going, literally, up the chimney. A stove in your period fireplace can give you the heat you want and still give you that traditional look. If your room is particularly large you can go for a double-depth stove with a bigger output. If the fireplace opens into two adjoining rooms you can even go for a double-sided stove that will heat both rooms at once.

A contemporary wood-burning stove is the perfect winter addition to your home. Photo by Hunter's Stoves
Di Lusso insert stove Photo by Hunter’s Stoves

An Edinburgh listed period property, can still be modernised internally for 21st century living.  A traditional multi-fuel, or wood-burning stoves will certainly complement your chosen Georgian or Victorian décor. If however, you’re looking for a contemporary stove as a direct contrast there are many to choose from. Di Lusso manufacture a beautiful and reliable range of contemporary stoves, and Danish company Morso produce modern stoves, insert fires and outdoor fires – if you like the idea of entertaining guests al fresco – although it’s maybe best to wait until summer arrives again.

Modern vertical radiator
Radiators can add to the style of a room

Central heating radiators – a hot topic

Radiators can be a bit of a hot topic. For many, their experience of radiators is a choice between the non-descript models in many new-build homes and the kind which remind you of your old school classroom. However, radiators can now range from sleek, wall-hung models in gun-metal grey which look more like works of art than heating appliances – to large, vertical radiators with built-in mirrors. You can also opt for the traditional Victorian, cast-iron radiator but custom-designed and painted to reflect your more adventurous side.

When in Rome – or Edinburgh for that matter…

Underfloor heating being installed
Underfloor heating being installed by Mackenzie Hughes at restoration stage

Many of Edinburgh’s new-town buildings were influenced by Italian Palladian architecture. So, why not add some Roman thinking when it comes to heating your period home? The Romans invented underfloor heating, an idea which is very much welcomed today. If you’ve ever set foot on a tiled floor during a Scottish winter, you’ll know what we mean. Underfloor heating is also extremely cost efficient to run. However, although it does provide a discreet alternative to radiators…you may have to find another place to dry your socks!

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