Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 2.djvu/489

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page has been validated.
473
THE WARMING OF HOUSES.

necessary that it should be kept in mind throughout while treating of the former. In fact, infusing heated air is a more economical and pleasanter mode of warming houses than direct radiation, and it is only by their capability of combining the two methods that open fires can maintain ascendency over stoves, and it is only by uniting proper ventilation with stoves that they ought to be tolerated.

Lastly, all appliances should be simple and as self-acting as possible. This is essential for those intended for the use of the poor, whose treatment of them is of the roughest, and who neither need nor understand any thing complicated. If there be a damper to be drawn, or a handle to be turned by them, neither will be drawn nor turned except occasionally the wrong way, and if there be any cover or part that is loose, it is safe to be lost. At the risk, therefore, of some waste, their scanty fuel must be consumed in the most primitive manner possible. With somewhat less force the same caution may be given to those who design apparatus for the upper classes. Every thing even for them should be as self-acting as possible, for, though individuals may for a time take a fancy to an ingenious arrangement that requires personal adjustment, they tire of it in time; servants in their succession are not to be drilled into its use, and the thing is soon left to itself, and failure is the inevitable result.

To proceed to the several appliances themselves:

In the race to attain economy, it must be acknowledged, at the outset, that close stoves completely distance open grates, and that they in their turn are as far ahead of all gas-apparatus as at present invented; and yet all have some advantages as well as disadvantages peculiar to themselves, to which it is worth giving some consideration.

In stoves, the heat from fuel can be almost wholly extracted and utilized, and even the little that escapes with the gaseous products of combustion is heavily taxed when its ultimate exit is by the few insignificant pipes, or diminutive chimney-stalks, which alone are suffered to peep above the roofs of houses on the Continent. English ideas of comfort will not, however, permit of the general introduction of the stove system into this country, and it is hardly to be desired that it should, unless great improvement be grafted upon that in vogue abroad, in which stuffiness is ever an accompaniment of warmth.

Our British privilege, however, of being able to poke the fire, although purchased dearly by its concomitant dust and the labor it entails upon servants, is not likely soon to be relinquished, and the luxury of an open fire is a fact which no theory can demolish.

Still, the grates in common use savor of barbarism, and much can and should be done to gain further refinement, economy, and immunity from nuisance. There is no need, for instance, that our roofs should be disfigured by the ugly and even comical flue terminals which Dickens satirized in one of his latest Christmas publications. We ought not to be subject to vexatious down-draughts in windy weather, nor to