“When you buy an old place be prepared to get cold.” This sounds like a Chinese proverb but it was REALLY cold in the water mill last winter. We knew on forehand that we needed proper heating for the extravagant space. The search began.
About heating in France
The most popular heating system in France is based on oil or Fuel as they call it funny enough. With Fuel, you need huge tank with a capacity up to 5,000 liters stalled in the basement. The good thing: oil is not so expensive compared to electricity. The down side? Oil prices are fluctuating. Another bummer with oil heating are all the pipes all through the house. Installing pipes can be a big problem if you have 200 year old 50cm to 80cm thick sandstone walls all over the place. Estimated costs for the water mil reached 50.000 euro.
Growing in popularity are Pellet Burners. Pellet is a kind of compressed wood chips that burn in a stove. By slowly feeding fuel from a storage container (hopper) into a burn-pot area, they create a constant flame that requires little to no physical adjustments. The good thing: it has a huge energy conversion efficiency. The downside: the system is delicate and when the feed is blocked for some reason, it all stops. And like Fuel you also need pipes.
The alternative is electric heating. Pricy since the costs per kW are sky high. The good thing? Electricity prices are very stable in France due to their nuclear power plants. You don’t need pipes, it’s de-central heating. Therefor you will heat room by room and have no energy or heat loss in transport. The down side: It might not be strong enough to get the space warm.
We’ve chose a good old fashion way for the extra power needed, the traditional stove.
We went all the way to Wijhe (pronounced locally as ‘We-eh’) to check on some sort of wood-burning stove that heats up to 500m3. That’s more or less what we need to heat the living room and the staircase.
And we found one! It was a monster built in Latvia. It looked as if it was supposed to be the centre piece of a steam train. Closer to a V8 engine than the real thing. Straight from the Cold War. It was humongous, pitch black, large pipes everywhere and solid iron. We LOVE it! Love live the Thermobull Professor. (that’s truly the name 🙂 ).