Quercus, “WARMING HOUSES,” The Genesee Farmer 4:2 (11 Jan. 1834): 13-14.
In one of my communications last winter, [vol 3, p. 30,] on the subject of fuel, I attempted to show that the ordinary cost of wood in the western villages of this state, was very little, if any, short of the price paid in New England for the same amount of acquired heat; for although the price of wood in this state was less by the cord than in New England, yet its more porous and gaseous qualities, rendered its specific gravity so much less, that it required more than double the quantity to produce the same effect. I also suggested the expediency of adopting more extensively the use of anthracite coal, as being not only more economical, but far less troublesome.
Circumstances have placed me this season in a different sphere of action, and where I have had a better opportunity of observing the use, and the effects of coal, in its various applications.
The grand desideratum in housekeeping, as well as in the arts, is to obtain the greatest amount of heat with the least expenditure of fuel and money; and notwithstanding the prejudice which has so extensively existed against anthracite coal, it must soon be universally acknowledged, that we have no means of combining so fully these desirable objects, as by its use. The enormous increase of our population too, is fast leveling our forests, so that ere long the use of coal will be absolutely necessary in our larger cities and villages. The sooner, therefore, we adopt it, the sooner we shall learn its use, and experience its happy effects upon our comfort and our purses
At present, I propose to confine myself wholly to the subject of warming dwelling houses ; and in so doing, I would suggest only two modes,which meet my views of comfort and economy.
The first is the "Hot Air Furnace," to which I alluded in my communication of last winter. The principle of this is simply a cylindrical iron furnace, with a grate at its bottom for draught and the transmission of ashes, and an opening on its side for feeding it with coal. This cylinder is then surrounded with either brick or sheet iron, so as to form an air chamber around the furnace, from whence the heated air is carried to any desired location, by means of tin tubes. Such a furnace, placed in a convenient situation in the cellar or lower apartment, renders all fire above stairs wholly unnecessary. To secure all the advantages of this plan, it is essential that the smoke pipe from the furnace should pass through a series of dumb stoves, placed in each story, either in the hall, or other rooms, as most convenient; while the heated air from the air chamber, is conveyed by lubes to such other rooms as are in constant use. By such an arrangement, a most delightful heat is disseminated through an ordinary sized house, from the cellar to the garret, by means of only one fire.
This plan combines several important and essential objects. First, the saving of fuel. A furnace of this description will not consume over one ton of coal per month, keeping fire night and day; and unless the weather is very severe, it need not average over half a ton per month. The best of Lehigh coal can be delivered in Buffalo in the summer season at $12 per ton, and in the same proportion at the intermediate places. Even then, at Rochester or Buffalo, the expense of supplying such a furnace, together with the comfort of an entire warm house, would not exceed $40 or $50. Where is the man, in either place, who lives at an expense of $800 or $1,000 per year, who does not pay nearly double the amount, for the privilege of healing the air above the top of his chimney!
Second—It is a great saving of comfort. Instead of having only one room warmed by a common fire place or stove, and that indifferently well, you have your whole house comfortable, so that you can pass from one room to another without the. danger of being chilled; and at night, your family may retire to their several apartments, to enjoy the luxury of a summer temperature, without either the hazard of colds and catarrhs, or the enervating influence of a load of bed clothes.
Third—It is safe and cleanly. No damage can accrue to children or others, from the burning of clothes or skin; nor are your carpets or furniture continually exposed to the depredations of sparks and coals; and as nothing but pure air is transmitted from the open atmosphere through the air chamber into your rooms, so neither dust nor ashes will arise to annoy your family or friends.
Fourth—You are not exposed to colds and catarrhs, and to the innumerable train of evils which follow as a consequence, from the currents of cold air which are continually forced into a common room, to supply the place of the heated air which passes up chimney. It will readily be perceived, that as hot air is by this plan forced into the room, and no draught out of it, the accumulation of this hot air will not only produce a uniform heat throughout the room, but by its constant accession heat must escape through the cracks and crevices of the building, thereby reversing the present course of currents. Hot air will force its way out of the room, instead of cold air into it.
Since using a furnace upon this plan, I have seen a suggestion in Silliman's Journal of Science, from Prof. Johnston of Philadelphia, which adapts the "Air furnace ' to culinary purposes, as well as heating the house. His principle is precisely the same as the one I have described, but using the same heat which ascends into the rooms above, for culinary purposes below. This is certainly a consummation greatly to be desired to the economy of families, for as the Professor justly //p. 14 remarks," the culinary operations of almost every family involve an immense waste of heat, and of beat too, which might be turned to valuable account, were but a small portion of the ingenuity bestowed on less important subjects, turned toward that much neglected branch of domestic operations." For a particular description of his apparatus, I would refer the reader to the 23d volume of the American Journal of Science and Arts, No. 2, January, 1833.
The other mode of warming dwellings to which I shall refer, is by means of Dr. Nott's Stoves. This is the very acme of stove invention. No one who has experienced the pleasure and comfort arising from the use of these stoves, will be disposed to deny the Dr. the full meed of praise, which this exhibition of his talents has called forth.
It has often been remarked that great minds, which are constantly engrossed with the contemplation and study of first principles, with their various ramifications through the arts and sciences, seldom descend to minute particulars; but in Dr. Nott, we have an instance of an intellect, which after having traversed the whole range of science, and for years investigated the principles of heat and caloric, at once descending to put these principles in practice, and bending its gigantic resources to the mechanical arrangement of furnaces and castings, and even to the formation of screws and rivets.
It is unnecessary here to enter into an analysis of these stoves. Suffice it to say that they combine the following great principles. Saving of fuel; saving of expense; saving of time; and saving of comfort. A stove which will cost $25 or $30, will abundantly heat two rooms with folding doors, besides two chambers with dumb stoves. And with all this heat, the consumption of fuel is so small, that one stove of the above price will not require to exceed one and a half tons of coal from November to April; and where the fire is not kept up at night, one ton will be sufficient. Now contrast this statement with the enormous expenditure of wood, in our inland villages. Take for instance Rochester or Buffalo, and compare the difference of expense, between burning wood in the ordinary way by stoves and fire places, and of coal, in Nott's stoves.
A ton of coal in the village of Rochester will be worth, say $11,00; and by the use of Nott's stoves, a ton and a half will abundantly supply a family through the winter. In the village of Rochester there are at lest 1,000 families who require, and actually use, stoves or other substitutes more expensive than Nott's stoves. These one thousand families burn on an average, (aside from their kitchens) twenty cords of wood each; for though some burn not over five or ten cords, yet others bum thirty or forty. We will say, however, that the average does not exceed fifteen cords per family, which when cut and ready for the fire will average $2 per cord. At this estimate, the value of wood burned by the 1,000 families, will amount to $30,000. Now for the coal. Averaging the quantity to each family at a ton and a half, and the price at $11 per ton, the whole cost for 1,000 families will be $16,500; to which you may add if you please, for cartage and extras, $3,500, and you then have the enormous saving in the village of $10,000, in a single winter, by the use of anthracite coal and Nott's stoves.— Now in all this there can be no mistake, for I am a daily spectator of similar results.
In conclusion, I would barely say to those who are sceptical, try it, and be satisfied; to those who love comfort, try it, and be ye warmed and filled; to those who love money, try it, and save your pence; but to those who prefer the old and frigid path, I must also say, go on, if you will, to your heart's content, but remember it will be at the expense of money, comfort, and health.
[“Economy of Fuel,” The Genesee Farmer 4:8 (22 Feb. 1834): 57-58 -- MARCUS BULL's pamphlet “a matter of interest to every householder.”]