Monday 30 January 2012

Now That Spring Is On It's Way

For those of us who own a log burner the time has come to start looking to restock stores of seasoned logs  ready for next year, wood burns most efficiently with a moisture content no greater than 20%, this can either be bought in bulk from companies such as Certainly Wood, or if you can get free wood, either from windfalls (ask the landowner's permission first) or perhaps if you are good friends with a tree surgeon who can donate his cuttings. This 'green' wood can have a moisture content of more than triple the recommended 20% and if burned 'green' then this wood would produce very little heat and large amounts of smoke that could cause a build-up of creosote in the flue.
Obviously you will need somewhere to let the wood season, let the moisture leave the wood. There is no point just piling it up and covering it with a tarpaulin, it will just sweat and go mouldy and useless. You need a log-store. Somewhere open enough for the wind to be able to blow through the wood and take out a majority of that moisture while also keeping it sheltered for the more extreme elements.
There are a wide variety of Log Stores available from places such as House 2 Home Megastore, as above they can be combined with a tool store for the budding gardener, but likewise if you perhaps already have a garden shed and don't necessarily need extra storage space then there are other options available.
The standard design of log-store is shown right. Slatted walls on three sides allow the wind to blow through and a roof will keep the rain off.
Be sure to purchase a log store made from FSC Certified Materials and with an in-service guarantee to make sure your log store lasts.
All the Log Stores from House 2 Home Megastore come with at least a 5 year in-service guarantee, with some offering 15 years! These log stores will ensure you've got seasoned wood for your log-burner for years to come!

Wednesday 25 January 2012

Top 10 tips for Reducing Your Heating Costs by Installing a Wood Burning Stove

On freezing winter days like the ones we have managed to almost dodge completely this winter, could there anything nicer than coming in from the cold and curling up in front of a wood-burning stove? Aside from the romantic vision of cups of hot chocolate in front of a glowing stove, did you know that installing a wood-burning stove could potentially reduce your energy bills?
Even with the recent gas and electricity price cuts that have been announced by some of the biggest energy suppliers this week (following their steep price rises last year), it is definitely worth considering alternative forms of home heating to reduce your energy costs and over-reliance on gas and electricity.
So, to give us the low-down on wood-burning stoves and how to maximise our heating whilst minimising our energy bills, the chaps at gr8fires have shared their top 10 tips, plus we have an exclusive offer for all Queen of Easy Green™ readers, see below.
Top 10 tips for Reducing Your Heating Costs by Installing a Wood Burning Stove
1.     Install a wood-burning stove
That’s the inevitable starting point for saving money with a wood-burning stove. This will reduce your heating costs by cutting your reliance on central heating. You can turn off the radiators in rooms that you don’t need to keep warm and use the stove as your main source of heat.
2.     Choose the right stove
Picking the best stove for your needs is essential in helping you to save money. If you don’t fit a stove with a heat output suited to the room, it will reduce your chances of cutting your heating costs. Opting for a more expensive model with a greater output to heat a larger room will pay for the price difference in no time at all.
3.     Consider a wood-burning boiler stove
Installing a boiler stove is one way of further cutting your heating bills. You can use the heat generated by your stove to also heat the water in your home. The dual use of your stove means you can cut your central heating costs even further.
4.     Use properly seasoned wood
The type of wood you use has a huge impact on the efficiency of your stove. Using seasoned wood -which has been cut, split and left to air for at least a year – is the best way to minimise your heating costs. Seasoned wood contains far less moisture, burns more efficiently and heats your home more quickly than freshly cut wood. Use a log store to allow your wood to season and to help you build up a supply that should last you all winter.
5.     Control your stove’s air supply properly
Both the bottom (primary) and top (secondary) air vents should be open when you light your stove. Once the fire is burning well, you should be able to close the primary vent and control the fire using only the secondary vent for a more efficient burn.
6.     Get your chimney swept regularly
As a minimum you should get your chimney swept annually before you start using the stove regularly. Ideally, it should be swept every three to four month when the stove is in regular use.
7.     Use dry kindling to start the fire
Using small pieces of wood to get the fire going will heat your stove more quickly and, as a result, your room will start heat more efficiently once you add logs. The sooner your stove is up to temperature, the sooner the convection process can have an impact on the rest of the room.
8.     Use free wood
One of the best aspects of installing a stove is that you can easily find a supply of free fuel. From saving friends and family from a trip to the tip to salvaging fallen trees from your nearest forest (with the landowner’s permission), there are plenty of opportunities to heat your home for free.
9.     Don’t be tempted to throw another log into the stove. Once you have loaded the stove with logs, don’t continually top up your stove as they burn. Wait until all the logs have been burnt to glowing embers before reloading the stove. Continually adding more wood is considerably less efficient.
10.  Keep the door closed
It is a simple tip, but one that causes unnecessary confusion for many stove users. Once the stove is lit, the door should be closed. This increases the efficiency of the burn by up to 60 per cent.

Monday 23 January 2012

45 Years Of Corian

Invented and produced by DuPont, Corian® is a solid surface offering superior design possibilities and excellent long-term performance, used both in the home and in many different commercial environments, from hotels to healthcare, retail to marine.
With its balance of beauty and performance, Corian® lends itself to imaginative uses, innovative designs and enduring applications.
If you can imagine it, you can probably create it with Corian®. Available in over 100 colours, Corian® can be carved, routed or worked like wood, moulded, thermoformed or inlayed… the design options are almost limitless, but enough of the endless possibilities that Corian
® can be used for, we're going to look at just one, and one fire manufacturer that have created arguably one of the most popular fires of the last few years.
In April this year Corian® will celebrate it's 45th year. almost half a century of creating everything from kitchen worktops, to pieces of modern art and even gas and electric fires. With this milestone in mind we showcase just how one fire manufacturer showcases this amazing material.
Brilliant Fires are the only manufacturer to take advantage of the versatile material, creating stunning fires from the Brilliant NewDawn-E, a breath-taking electric fire with a flame effect that is totally unique and almost without competition in terms of authentic appearance, to the Ledge suite, combining this stunning material with a beautiful hole-in-the-wall style fireplace

The Brilliant Ledge is a Simple yet chic fireplace design and makes a bold statement without being over the top. Boasting fully automatic remote control as standard and makes a stunning focal point in any room. While the choice of Corian® finishes allows you to choose a colour that contrasts or complements existing decor. The 2.7kW heat output means this fire will give you that warm glow in an evening and help keep that cold edge off long after the central heating has turned off.

Another model in the Brilliant range that showcases a stunning Corian® fascia is the NewDawn and Brilliant NewDawn-E. These stunning fires combine the stunning Corian® fascia of the Ledge and Slab ranges with a simple Hole-In-The-Wall style finish to create a highly desirable finish that can be tempered to your colour scheme.

The micro-chip controlled LED flame effect eliminates the need for ribbons and fans that add to the depth of the fire, meaning the Newdawn-E is a mere 75mm deep, approximately half the depth of a majority of the other electric fires on the market, but this depth doesn't detract from the heat output, offering 2kWof fan heat blowing from the bottom, meaning it may be possible to install underneath a television, but it may be worth double checking with the tv manufacturer first, just to be on the safe side.

All of these fires are available in over 100 different colours of Corian® finishes, allowing you to go for a neutral colour to complement existing decor, or to contrast, creating a bold design statement and drawing maximum attention to your fire.

Saturday 21 January 2012

Manufacture Focus: Cast Tec

Cast Tec has its origins back in 1983 when Managing Director Geoff Moore became a sole trader buying and restoring original cast-iron fireplaces using the family ‘dip & strip’ business premises in North Shields as a base.
Demand for cast-iron fireplaces was very limited in the early 1980’s but with a housing boom looming in the South-East weekly commuting took place to Camden Market in north London to sell fireplaces from an indoor market stall on a weekend.
1984 heralded a small shop unit in Camden Lock called the Victorian Fireplace Co. where original fireplaces purchased in the north-east were sold for 15 years.
1987 saw the restoration and manufacturing side of the business moving to a factory workshop in Washington, Tyne & Wear.
Brian Hart, now Cast Tec’s Operations Director, joined from the company at this time to take on the responsibility for running the workshop.
1990 saw the housing boom turn sour and the recession of the early 1990’s affected trading conditions in the London shop. The response was to open a retail showroom in the Washington premises in the north. Called Grate Expectations, the showroom opened in 1989 and traded for 15 years.
1998 saw the humble beginnings of Cast Tec when it was decided that the Distribution of Reproduction cast-iron fireplaces to the trade would be the way forward. It was the only way supply could meet demand in the future and an approach was made by Britannia Castings which resulted in the exclusive rights for Cast Tec to distribute what became the Portman Collection range of cast-iron products in the UK.
1999 heralded the end of an era with the closure of The Victorian Fireplace Co. shop in Camden Lock due to the increasing difficulty of obtaining original fireplaces with demand outstripping supply.
That year Tony Byrne, who ran the London shop from 1995-99, became the first sales/delivery driver for Cast Tec progressing on to become Sales Director. 
2002 saw Cast Tec become a Limited Company and the following year they gained the exclusive rights to import and distribute the Agnews range of quality cast-iron fireplaces throughout the UK mainland.
2005 saw the established Firemaster name and range of products being brought into the Cast Tec stable on behalf of the Ouzledale Foundry Co. Ltd.
2006 heralded an exciting move for the 20 staff of Cast Tec Ltd. to a new 30,000 sq ft. factory premises inside the Port Of Tyne in South Shields where they have access to the Port’s outstanding facilities.

Thursday 19 January 2012

Kevin McCloud On Owning A Woodburner

In this month's issue of Grand Designs Kevin McCloud sheds a little light on one of his essential stove accessories.
"Those of us in possession of a Woodburner have been stoking them into life since autumn, and as long as the wintry nights continue and the mercury tumbles, we won't be stopping anytime soon.
Most woodburners sit in a chimney or alcove, quickly heating the pocket of air around the it to a roasting 60'C - you have to wait an hour or so for the metal to get truly hot...
Hence the need for a stove fan, a simply brilliant idea, it sits on the Woodburner and blows the warm air from around the stove into the room and it is powered entirely by the heat generated below it.
Benjamin Franklin may have been clever enough to invent the Woodburner, but his brain wasn't quite able to get round thermoelectrics!"

A simple flow of heat from hot metal to cold metal through a special layer that generates electricity and turns the fan blades and gently pushes warm air into the room! The blades of the stove fan spin silently and efficiently, circulating the warm air around the room, the blades spinning faster as the stove heats up and then slowing and finally coming to a stop as the stove cools.This can circulate up to 25% more heat into the room, reducing the amount of wood you need to burn and saving money!

Tuesday 17 January 2012

Hole In The Wall Fires - A Simple Guide

Just over a decade ago a hole-in-the-wall gas fire was almost impossible to find, with most fires stilll following a traditional period design, while looking brilliant and doing a great job at replicating the look of a real fire, will give out very little heat into the room and uses a very large amount of gas.
Oh how the world has changed, we're less than a month into 2012, the Olympic year, and there 99 products on Fireplace Megastore alone under Hole In The Wall Gas Fires, Class 1 and 2. That doesn't include any Balanced flue or Catalytic Flueless fires that further add to the available options.
An incredible number of UK manufacturer's have created designs, as well as European manufacturers such as Drugasar, have introduced or imported an amazing array of gas fires. You can still get the traditional basket style, some of which have been improved to offer a better heat output..

The most basic open-fronted hole-in-the-wall design is open-fronted, much like the Verine Atina, look realistic but at least 90% of all heat disappears up the chimney and research actually indicates that some designs actually remove heat from the room. Realism tends to change proportionally to efficiency. In terms of looks, inset convector fires, are realistic with contemporary surrounding metalwork and open front. Efficiency is far better than an hole-in-the-wall design and typically around 35 – 40%. Most efficient, but not realistic in some people’s view, is the glass-fronted, gas-inset, hole-in-the-wall fire, such as the Drugasar Global 90 or Apex Influence. Its glass front gives efficiencies of 70% plus, particularly when the design utilises a balanced flue (which requires no chimney– Drugasar are one of the principle manufacturers of balanced flue fires). Not all glass fronted designs are balanced flue – chimney flues and fanned flues are also common. Hole-in-the-wall fires are available with all the popular fuel effects.Although coals remain the most popular choice (and the most realistic), logs come a good second with new fuel effects like dancing flames, pebbles, driftwood and twigs also popular. Traditional hole-in-the-wall designs need coal or log effects – the more modern options simply look out of place.

Electrical Designs
There are a growing number of electric hole in the wall design. These have a number of advantages in that they do not need chimneys or other flues, are often quite shallow in depth and may simply hang on the wall. Like most electric fires, a maximum of 2 kW of heat is available from a built-in, fanned convector.Some, such as the Drugasar Metro 80e, are available as the highly contemporary frameless finish, but most offer that simple hang on the wall installation.

A recent addition to the hole in the wall range of fires available, and besides electric fires amoung the easiest to install. Unlike gas fires they do not require a chimney, flue or vent in the room and provide 100% efficiency. Another advantage of such fires means that unlike gas fires that require a Gas Installer to service the appliance every 12 months, most bioethanol fires feature only 1 moving part so are incredibly reliable.

A hole-in-the-wall fire is not complete without a surround. Although some people like a design that is just a rectangular alcove in the wall, most want the fire to be surrounded with some sort of fireplace. Marble and stone are the favoured materials for the surround and will probably have to be cut to size for your installation. If you use stone, make sure that it does not have a direct flame playing on the stone as some types can degrade dramatically in these conditions. Marble fireplaces can be made out of natural or conglomerate marble. However, conglomerate marble will start to disintegrate at high temperatures and is more suitable for gas fires. Also consider a brick surround. This will have to be tailor made for your fireplace but bricks are a robust hole-in-the-wall material that will stand high levels of thermal shock.

Hole-in-the-wall installation can be expensive. If you have an existing chimney, your installer will have to
‘break into’ it above the normal fireplace opening. This probably means inserting a lintel above the new opening to support the chimney brickwork. Below the new opening, the brickwork will have to be built up to the level required for your particular design. It is possible to build a false chimney breast for your proposed hole-in-the-wall fire. This would allow a flue to rise vertically from a conventionally-flued gas or solid fuel design and would accommodate the depth of the unit itself. Check with the instructions of the fire you choose as it will stipulate minimum distances that the fire can be sited from combustible materials.Some hole-in-the-wall fires do not require hearths while other do. For gas fires this depends on what was agreed when the fire was tested for conformity to European standards. Check on the requirements for the fire you want to purchase. If a hearth is required, for a open gas fire, it must be at least 50mm thick, overlap the burning area of the fire by at least 150 mm and project at least 300 mm in front of the foremost flames of burning fuel. It can be either mounted directly below the floor or a ground level – the former option is normally unacceptable on aesthetic grounds. Balanced flue hole-in-the-wall fires are growing in popularity, particularly manufacturers such as Drugasar, Site them on an outside wall and you can forget all the problems of moving lintels, etc.

Sunday 15 January 2012

Opening Up Your Fireplace

So you've just moving into a new house or flat and notice there is a chimney breast in your living room but no fireplace! No living room can be complete without a fireplace, both as a focal point and as a compliment to other heating the room, allowing you to turn down the central heating and just enjoy the warmth that a gas, solid fuel or electric fire offers.
Where Do I Start?
To start you'll need to find out if your chimney breast has a fireplace opening. Tap where you thing the fireplace is, or if there is an air-brick, remove it. This will help determine what has been used to block up the opening, whether plasterboard, MDF, timber or block-work.
If you're a competent handy-person you may be able to try and remove the material blocking the opening, but if you find a broken lintel, or no lintel at all, STOP IMMEDIATELY and call in a building professional.
Now I've Made My Opening, Is My Chimney Usable?
Whether the chimney is usable rests entirely on your chimney or flue has a pull, or up- draught, without this there would be no way of drawing the harmful exhaust gases out of the room. (To get an  idea of what flue you have click here)

Most gas fitters, or solid fuel engineers will test the pull of a chimney by using a smoke pellet or match, but you can test this yourself. Try lighting a match, blowing it out near the entrance to the flue, see if the smoke trail is sucked up the chimney.
Ideally you should see the smoke trail be sucked up the chimney, indicating a good pull by the flue. If not, this may be because the flue has been partially or completely blocked, or even removed! Check rooms above or in the loft, the chimney breast should go through those rooms too, a missing chimney breast would need to be rebuilt to re-instate the flue before you could use a conventionally flued appliance.
Although it does not stop you using a catalytic flueless gas fire or a bio-ethanol fire. Another issue may be that the chimney has been capped, head outside (weather permitting) and look up at the chimney, binoculars may be helpful, to see if there is a metal cap on the chimney pots. This cap would need to be removed and providing that the rest of flue is intact then removal of the cap will re-instate the pull of the flue, allowing the freedom to have fires such as the stunning Drugasar Eclipse suite (shown right).
I've done all of the above, but my chimney still has no pull, I think it's blocked.
The best thing to do would be to consult a chimney sweep and see if they can sweep the chimney and clear any blockage. If you're looking to install a wood or solid fuel appliance then most manufacturers recommend having the chimney swept every 6 months, with many stove manufacturers advising that a flue liner be fitted to ensure the flue has a uniform pull.
I've Decided What Fire I Want, Can I Fit It Myself?
No, Simple As That. Gas fires must be fitted by an installer registered with Gas Safe, likewise any solid fuel appliance must be fitted by a HETAS registered engineer. Both of these are legal requirements and doing it yourself may make it very difficult to sell the property, or worse, could seriously endanger your life.

Friday 13 January 2012

Interior Design Trends For 2012 - Industrial

Our final piece on upcoming Interior Design Trends for 2012 is Industrial. Our final trend has the potential to be the most popular of all. The Industrial or Utilitarian furniture has the ability to instantly add a designer feel to almost any living space. This is displayed perfectly right in a modern bar. The bare metal and brick walls combined with the antique wood finish complete the industrial look.
We can now look into just a few ways you can create that look with a fire or fireplace. To either contrast existing decor and create that focal point, or to combine with other items in the same style to truly give the whole room that Industrial/Utilitarian feel.

Our first suggestion follows the stripped back, functional ideals of the Industrial design trend. The new T3 range of Burley stoves, consisting of the Holywell, Brampton, Debdale and the Wakerley. These stoves are incredibly efficient, with the claim that 100kg of seasoned logs can be burnt so efficiently that all the ash could fit into just a single pint glass!
You won't find any unnecessary styling features on these stoves which means all the attention is drawn to the incredibly large glass window showcasing the Cyclone(TM) flame picture.
The simple plate steel styling and wooden handles complement each other nicely and would not look out of place in any living space, or industrial workshop for that matter. Further proving just how perfect these stoves are to create the Industrial look.

While most wood-burning stoves will boast primary, second and tertiary combustion to create very efficient appliances the Burley T3 range of stoves offer the previously unheard of Quaternary combustion. Meaning even less unburnt fuel can be wasted up the chimney and giving you yet more heat for your fuel!

These stoves are NOT available online to purchase, however why not give Fireplace Megastore a call, one of Burley's biggest dealers in the UK and place an order for one of these truly revolutionary stoves!

Our final, but by no means our least favourite suggestion is the Apex Rivas 60 or Rivas 100 gas fire from Apex. Offering a stunning twin level trim available in 5 different finishes from the industrial brushed stainless steel to the incredibly contemporary polished chrome finish. The realistic log or pebble fuel effect can offer both the traditional or contemporary fuel effect.
The heat output of 5.5kW with a high efficiency of up to 75% means that you can heat your room, without heating the outside world at the same time!
As you can see (right) when combined with other industrialist elements in the room, or it can be used as a focal point on a chimney breast to heat your living room on those cold wintery nights!

Wednesday 11 January 2012

Interior Design Trends For 2012 - Victoriana

In our second entry on design trends for 2012 we look at Victoriana. Family life revolved around the fireplace, hot water would come from the stove, almost all heat came exclusively from the fireplace with the Cast Iron "Victorian" radiator not becoming commonplace until the very late 19th Century.
No Victorian style living room would be complete without the traditional fireplace, so in this entry we shall suggest some of the very best ideas to complete that Victoriana finish. Forget the over-furnished rooms and heavy drapes. While traditional and would give the Victorian finish, they are a little bit over the top for our liking.
Our first suggestion is part of the Premier range from Cast Tec, The Cast Tec Dublin Cast Iron Insert with  the Harton Cast Iron Surround. The traditional Victorian finish is displayed in the quality antique finish and complements the matt black and highlight polished areas of the Harton fireplace surround.
Available with either gas, electric or solid fuel means this fire is suitable for anyone, whether you have a chimney or not:
  • Gas fire with a maximum heat input of 6.9kW with natural gas as standard and is suitable for class 1 or 2 flues
  • Electric fire that comes with two heat settings of 900W & 1800W which is controlled by a remote control as standard, top venting fire with LED effect and adjustable height
  • Solid fuel kit which comes complete with fret, ashpan, grate and operating tool. Capable of burning wood peat, and other smokeless fuels
The Dublin & Harton could be used just to give that Victorian highlight and a focal point, or, as pictured in conjunction with other furniture in the room to create a stunning theme that can be the basis for a beautiful home.

Our next suggestion is another cast-iron combination, This time from Carron. The Lambourn Cast-Iron Combination features traditional Victorian styling, that just like the Cast Tec Dublin would create an ideal talking point in any room. The detailing on the mantle and the canopy both add to the effect, while the choice of solid fuel, natural gas or LPG mean that you can have that stunning center-piece, while the choice of tiles means that you can cater the apperaance to your existing decor.

Both of the above fireplaces would create that a stunning Victorian feel to any room, rarely was any piece of furniture not adorned with accessories, pieces were carefully positioned for maximum impact.  Pick lighting, throws and cushions with needlepoint detailing, lampshades with intricate patterns; mini statuettes and even faux stuffed animals to complete that Victoriana look.

Monday 9 January 2012

Interior Design Trends For 2012

With 2011 now in the record books, with a much warmer winter than previous years. Many of you may have elected to stick with that tired old fire. "If it ain't broke, don't fix it" is the phrase that springs to mind and rightfully so, why should you spend a large amount of money on a brand new fire, often following trends that less than three months later are 'so last year'. 
So in the following few entries, with the help of Channel 4 Homes, we will details some of the upcoming trends for 2012 and how to get that 'bang-on-trend' fire, fireplace or stove.

Mid-Century Modern
We've long been fans of this look and despite its mainstream popularity for the past two or three years, its popularity is still not dying down. If anything, it is becoming even more popular. With fashions returning that first became popular in the 50's/60's/70's.
The first fire we suggest to create that Mid-Century modern look is the Smeg L30FAB flueless gas fire. This stunning flueless gas fire is available in four different colours, ranging from the bold red pictured above to Cream, Silver & Black. With a heat output of 2.6kW and 100% efficiency this fire can serve both as a bold fashion statement and as an incredibly efficient complimentary heat source for your living room, dining room or kitchen! 
For a more 70's look the why not combine the Brilliant NewDawn fire, available in both gas and electric with some retro wall paper to create a focal point on a chimney breast. Shown on the left in Hot Corian to match the bright red leather of a sofa. There is a lovely corner group available from House2Home Megastore.
Both these fires would be perfect to create that Mid-Century Modern trend that will become "Hot" property in 2012. 
One final fire to create that Mid-Century Modern look is the Apex Saverno with Art Deco Trim. While the Art Deco movement became popular in the 1920's, it was still prevalent throughout the mid-20th Century. This Stunning fire with simple horizontal detailing and contrast between the brushed steel and matt black fascia levels offers an eye-catching focal point. These fires also have the simplicity, unlike gas fires that mean they can be simply wall mounted, such as electric fires and then used without a flue, chimney or vent. 
With more and more high street stores are embracing the look running with it in their ranges - from furniture and wallcoverings, right through to accessories, so you can match your fire to your decor and create that incredibly desirable mid-century modern look.

Saturday 7 January 2012

Reasons to buy a range cooker

Big, beautiful and bursting with functions, a range cooker has the capacity to steal the show - making sure the kitchen is the true heart of any home.
But what are the options when it comes to ranges, and why choose a hearty range cooker over a built-in oven for your kitchen?
One of the greatest benefits of a range cooker is its heavy-duty durability and solid construction - they are literally built to last a lifetime.
Not only does this mean your initial investment has long-term benefits, but a range cooker is also kinder onthe environment as it puts landfill sites under less pressure, and with a solid fuel range, can offer Carbon Neutral heating and cooking.
Range cookers exude a feeling of permanence and solidity and, once you use them in the right way, quickly become a focal point in the kitchen and a home essential that you can't live without!

Range cookers have a distinct style, which stand out in the kitchen. Ranginge from a traditional, yet colourful finish of the Broseley Rosetta to the industrious Broseley Thermo Sovrana to the ultra-contemporary Firebelly Razen Cookstove. They add a homeliness, and even a feeling that whoever owns one is a competent and capable cook!
These factors mean that, unlike built-in ovens, range cookers can quickly become a focal point in the kitchen - making this area a place to which people naturally gravitate in the home, particularly if the smell of freshly baked bread or a simmering stew fills the air,  a freestanding range cooker has a much stronger presence than built-in appliances.
 While most "normal" cookers just come in the standard white or stainless steel, range cookers are available in a large number of extra colours, such as cream enamel, red enamel or even soapstone panels on some of the stoves! These extra colours allow the stove to complement or contrast existing decor to truly create that focal point.
While the common perception is that range cookers are old fashioned so don't have the same features as a "normal" cooker, but this can actually be the opposite. With additional features such as a warming drawer, ideal to warm plates before a large meal or to place bread to rise. With the larger stoves you can also connect them up to your central heating to get the most out of that lovely wood-fire and heat not only your kitchen, but the rest of the house and you hot water as well.

Thursday 5 January 2012

Elderly ignore free gas safety checks as winter starts to bite

£134 million worth of potentially life-saving gas safety checksoffered free by the energy suppliers go unclaimed every year, as astaggering number of people are killed by the effects of cold everywinter, according to research carried out for Gas Safe Register,which found that 88% of elderly homeowners have never claimed afree gas safety check.As the winter weather begins to bite and puts increased pressureon our central heating systems, latest official ONS statistics showthat 25,700 died from cold-related illnesses last year. Among theseare the nine elderly people, who died every hour from cold-relatedillnesses.
Gas Safe Register is urging people, particularly the elderly, tomake sure they take advantage of free gas safety checks if they areeligible and ensure they have well-maintained and safe gasappliances. When a gas boiler, gas fire or heater fails, theaverage home can quickly drop to 16°C, the temperature at whichhypothermia can set in. While younger people feel cold, it’s farmore serious for the elderly, whose temperature falls far fasterand to dangerous levels when their home temperature falls below16°C. That’s why the energy companies offer free checks to the mostvulnerable.
The UK has the highest winter death rate in Northern Europe, soGas Safe Register is warning people to make sure their home gasappliances will see them and their loved ones safely through thewinter. ONS data shows that the cold can cause or exacerbateillnesses such as high blood pressure, thrombosis or respiratoryinfections, as it weakens the immune system.
Paul Johnston, Chief Executive of Gas Safe Register says,

“We’re urging everyone to take whatever support theycan to keep safe and warm this winter. Having your gas applianceschecked annually is vital to ensure that they are running safely.If you don’t get your appliances checked every year, you arerisking gas leaks, fires, explosions or carbon monoxide poisoning.Although all appliances need to be checked every year, it’s veryimportant for elderly people, as appliances in their homes tend tobe older and not as reliable.”

Top 5 ways of staying warm safely:

  1. Get your gas appliances safety checked once a year to make surethey work safely and don’t break down in the cold.
  2. If you are having your gas appliances checked, always use a GasSafe registered engineer – it’s the law and will help keep yousafe.
  3. Always use gas appliances responsibly. Never use a gas cookerto heat a room or a house.
  4. Carbon monoxide is a deadly gas produced by badly maintainedgas appliances. Look out for danger signs - sooty stains on oraround appliances, floppy yellow flames (instead of crisp blueones) and excessive condensation in a room are all signs that yourgas appliances could be producing carbon monoxide.
  5. If you are over the age of 60 you may be entitled to a free gassafety check. Go to find out more or ask your energy supplier.

Wednesday 4 January 2012

Bio Ethanol Fires

Followingthe emerging success of bio ethanol fires in 2011 they look set to become evenmore popular, sure to be one of the ‘must have’ items of 2012. This is becausethey are real or live flame fires that burn having no dangerous fumes emitted.This allows a real fire to be achieved in homes where it was never thoughtpossible. Because bio ethanol fires do not need a flue, or expensive fittingand annual servicing, they burn a gel type fuel that is made from renewablesources and very popular around the world, yet fairly new to the UK.

Many existing fire companies are now investing their efforts into creating bioethanol fires, which will only makes them more affordable and desirable. Someof the designs are extremely innovative, mainly because no consideration forthe flue is required and will create an ornate feature in your home or gardeneven when not in use.

Bio ethanol fires also have a market in the garden sector as well as home, andcitronella fuel is available for your outdoor fire to help ward off those insects.They are a great way of keeping the garden party going once the BBQ has goneout, or an impressive way to light an entrance path or drive to your home.

Bio ethanol fires look great, are easy to use and effective with little maintenancerequired, how could something with such great attributes not be a phenomenalsuccess?

Tuesday 3 January 2012

Hot Property For 2012

With just a week left in 2011, and with our first snowfall across most of the UK last week, most people, along with ourselves are focusing on 2012. We thought we'd take a look at some of the things that we forsee becoming 'hot' property for 2012.

Bio-Ethanol Fires
These  eco-friendly and incredibly simple and elegant fires are becoming more and more popular with energy prices rising and installation, servicing and other costs of gas and soli-fuel appliances to consider Bio-Ethanol are beginning to become the appliance of choice for both heat and a stunning flame effect. While the fact that most bio-ethanol fires only feature one moving part which means there is almost nothing to go wrong with the fire. This means an end to expensive engineer/gas fitter visits and an end to struggling to find spare parts.

Other amazing feature is that some of the fires are portable, allowing for use both indoors during the colder nights or using Citronella Gel outside during the summer to provide that amazing ambience while keeping the insects away. While some people claim that the Bio-Ethanol costs an arm & a leg, most larger internet retailers are able to sell larger quanities at substanitally cheaper prices to that of a local showroom or garden centre.

You can find an incredible selection of  bio-ethanol fires; portable, freestanding and wall-mounted from the House 2 Home Megastore

Stoves In Colour:
With stoves becoming more and more popular as the idea of carbon-neutral heating and reduced fuel bills becomes more mainstream most people will start looking into purchasing a wood-burning or multifuel stove.
The general consensus of the market is matt black cast iron or steel is the only available colour. But why settle with just matt black?
With manufacturer's such as Firebelly or Carron offer many more colours, while Carron offer enamel colours that may chip or discolour due to heat Firebelly offer a wide variety of colours or heat resistant paint that are hard-wearing and can be touched up. Combined with the optional Stainless steel legs as pictured can give you an incredibly unique stove.

Drugasar Fires:
Drugasar fires are set to become the must-have gas fires. With the Global Range being an incredibly high quality range of gas fires for Chimney's & balanced flue systems that are also much more affordable than some other similar fires on the market. With the Eclipse, Aura, Cara & Grace suites also set to become more and more popular. The Ceraglass interior has also become a must-have, with not many other fires offering such a contemporary finish.
“We develop products that continuously meet the highest stipulations and as such retain the level of quality we are used to. Where homes are becoming increasingly better insulated, we offer products for example that still delievr a lovely fire but with less capacity,"