The inventors of apparatus for warming and cooking are so numerous, and the merits of a large number of inventions which have come into common use are of so negative a value, that it would not be fair to single out some individual instance for condemnation, and leave unnoticed other apparatus which possess equal defects and maybe in equally extensive use. Mr. Edwards's very interesting and instructive treatise on domestic fireplaces clearly shows with what persistent perverseness the inventions which possess real merit have been almost invariably passed by. This result, I fear, is due mainly to the fact that architects and builders have not been penetrated with sound principles on the warming of our dwellings, and have encouraged the adoption of showy grates, based on false principles, instead of taking the trouble to make new designs of pretty grates based on sound principles of warming.
The question of the consumption of coal for domestic purposes divides itself into two branches:
1. The quantity required for warmth.
2. The quantity required for cooking.
The former is required only for the winter months, the latter is a permanent quantity during the year.
The waste of coal in domestic fireplaces is, however, no new question. It is quite eighty years since the subject was most fully treated of by Count Rumford, and afterward by Mr. Sylvester. They showed conclusively what enormous savings in fuel, for heating, cooking, and drying, were possible. Count Rumford' s principles have never been generally applied, because the price of coals has ruled so low that householders have not much cared for economy. "We hear Count Rumford's axioms now and then quoted by rival manufacturers in support of their newly-devised grates or kitchen-ranges; but, in many cases, the manufacturer, in the article he supplies, seems to be endeavoring to violate, rather than to follow, every axiom which Count Rumford ever laid down.
I do not mean to say that improvements have not taken place since Count Rumford's time, but the progress in the direction of economy has been very small, when we consider the great ingenuity displayed in devising new forms of apparatus. In respect of our fireplaces, our chief talent has been expended in providing a means of warming the outside air, and of polluting it by the smoke and soot we project into it.
The methods which have been adopted for warming houses fall under the several heads of—
1. Open fireplaces.
2. Close stoves (the German plan).
3. The Roman hypocaust, or floors warmed by direct action of fire.
4. Hot-water pipes, without ventilation.
5. Hot air warmed by a cockle, or by hot-water pipes.