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Thursday, November 7, 2013

Settling in for the Winter - le Petit Godin

"Age appears to be best in four things; old wood best to burn, old wine to drink, old friends to trust, and old authors to read."

Francis Bacon

The weather finally turned here in Versailles and with the arrival of the cold and rain we were able to start using our wood stove.

The saga of the Flophouse woodstove - our very own Petit Godin - started a year ago.  It was with a sense of triumph that we lit the first fire a few weeks ago.  It promptly went out, but with trial and error we finally got it going again and we've had fires almost every night since.

After all that trouble, are we happy with it?

Absolutely.  I now understand completely why this woodstove (design from the 19th century) and others like it are still made and sold here.

A quick recap of the context:  We have a small house here in Versailles with a main floor that measures 55 square meters (592 square feet).  The house was build in 1929, the year of the crise, and originally had small angle fireplaces in the living room, dining room and bedroom.  At some point these were replaced by a central heating system with cast iron radiators (the kind I remember in my elementary school).  Not a bad system at all - we have a boiler in the basement and a big ancient fuel tank (another thing I recall from my youth).  We also put in insulation in the attic and when it snowed last year we were happy to see that the snow was not melting on our roof (a sign that the insulation was doing its job).  

But the system runs on heating oil (fioul) which can be pricey, though right now it's not too bad.  Minimum order is 1000 liters which means a little less than 1000 euros to have them come by and fill it up.  That's a big check to write once or twice a winter and that's to keep the house at an acceptable (but not terribly comfy) 68-69 degrees.

Our Petit Godin has changed all of that.  Once I get it going (takes about 15-30 minutes) and have just two logs burning, the temperature on the main floor shoots up to a balmy 23 degrees (73 degree F).


Pretty efficient, too.  We go through about 5-6 logs a night.  The biggest challenge has been figuring out how to keep the heat constant - regulating the air flow so that it doesn't burn too hot or too fast.

Plus, it's pretty.  Watching the flames dance in the little window is very soothing.  And there's the smell - a slight whiff of wood smoke that conjures up images of camp fires and stuff like that.  It just makes our cozy little house, cozier.   I even hauled out my grandmother's cast iron skillet and have been experimenting with cooking on it.  So far, it heats water and stew just fine.  One of these days I'll try pancakes.

Here are a few pictures.


jill said...

Ah 73 degrees! That does sound like heaven right now. The damp November chill has arrived in the PNW too, although rains abating this weekend. My house does not stay all that warm and is not that well insulated. Anyway, that little stove is charming in appearance too. Hope health allows you to go to the American Library event. Best, jill

Anonymous said...

Glad to see you got it going. THe price of Wood varies greatly--atrocious if bought at the gas station, to quite reasonable if you find the right enterprising seller. Or, there is a different currency if hubby Cuts it himself.

Since I have the mass of a huge brick fireplace built into the middle of my house, the heat stays in the house for the next 24-36hours.

For me, the key to it all is to build the fire at the Point in the morning when I have the most energy, so that it is simple to light it whenever it is needed most---like coming home after a long day when the house has already cooled down.

You will find that you will often become entranced in the fire and won't Think about the TV. And, at 23 degrees, you will often find yourself asleep in your chair at 8:30 pm.

Swedish Citizen

Hridoy said...

Good post!In the book you will read about the challenges of designing low-emissions biochar production systems from small-scale stoves to farm-scale pyrolyzers. Another section of the book is devoted to explaining simple tests to characterize biochar and methods for conducting valid field trials.Thanks:)

Riazul said...

Awesome Post !!!!!!I don’t think so. If this stove is in your house, have you contacted your Homeowners Insurance company? A wood burning stove can/will increase your premiums and cause your insurance not to pay if they are not aware of the installation.Thanks:)