Guest Post – Chimineas: Alfresco Eco-Heating
Just a few short years ago, outdoor heating was limited to bonfires and leaving the backdoor open to make the patio more hospitable. Recent years however, have seen a boom in the outdoor heating market. From electrical table top models to the gas guzzling furnaces of the nation’s beer gardens, we’ve never had it so good.
Before we all get carried away with this quest for eternal sunshine, shouldn’t we consider the environmental impact? After all, for most of us outdoor heating certainly falls into the luxury appliance category. For millennia man has simply accepted that at certain times, outside is cold and stayed indoors. How then, can we enjoy this wonderful revolution in outdoor comfort in an environmentally responsible way? The humble chiminea is the answer.
Energy Efficiency and Eco-Fuel
These wonderful outdoor stoves have been used in Central America as heaters and decoration for centuries. Traditionally ceramic based, modern chimineas are available in cast iron versions which are perfect for both heating and cooking. The durability and heat retention properties of cast iron chimineas make them the most energy efficient and long lasting on the market.
An obvious environmental benefit of chimineas is their reliance on renewable energy, as opposed to fossil fuel based gas and electric heaters. Check one for the chiminea but they have so much more green potential for the environmentally minded consumer. For example, there are a range of eco-friendly chiminea fuels available that are a great alternative to standard wood. These burn hotter and longer that regular wood, so offer greater energy efficiency. The fact that they are also made from compressed saw dust from mills and joineries, mean that you are essentially recycling waste too.
Chiminea fuel is also in abundance in the domestic garden – for free! This is not to suggest that you should wander around your garden, indiscriminately hacking at the foliage. But just general garden maintenance can provide a surprising amount of chiminea fuel. Trimmed branches and woody shrubs are an obvious choice. These should be dried to cut down on smoke and help them to burn hotter but this is easily accomplished. “But I don’t own a woodshed”, I hear you cry! No fear. A couple of old pallets and a tarpaulin can be turned into an ideal wood store.
Autumn leaves, are also a great source of chiminea fuel. Obviously these need to be dried, but this is easily done. Loosely stuff a large paper bag (old potato sack is ideal) store in a dry, warm area (ideally in the sun) and ‘hey presto’, yet more free fuel for your cast iron chiminea! The use of garden fuel also has the added advantages of cutting down on ecological damage caused by transportation and harvesting.
A cast iron chiminea is a wonderful environmentally friendly alternative to a traditional gas heater. Merely the fact that they help to cut down on non-renewable energy use, make them worth considering. Added to this, their potential for energy efficiency and waste recycling, chimineas seem like the ideal choice for the environmentally minded consumer.