NO WOOD BURNER - Help and advice needed

As our search for the perfect chateau continues, we have been renting here in the Aude since March 2011. Last winter, as many will recall, temperatures fell to -15C and we were delighted with the wood burning stove in our gite. However, we have since moved down the road to a lovely restored village house, but the only heating is electric. A power cut of nearly four hours today left us not only cold, hungry and thirsty, but extremely worried about heating in the event of a prolonged power outage in very cold weather. Any advice or suggestions as to what to buy (or more importantly, NOT to buy!) would be appreciated. Gas? Paraffin? Thanks in advance.

Hi all, and again thanks for the replies. Our neighbours must think we are very strange - we went up to our little roof terrace and inspected the bbq (never having used it), connected the gas and voila! It seems to work fine. Absolutely filthy, but that can be sorted. We have manhandled it down to first floor, and it is now plonked in the guest en suite (if we get a B&B or art course booking, should be interesting explaining that!). It seems to me that this will provide us with facility for cooking, and will throw out a bit of heat at the same time. Presume ventilation is essential if we find ourselves without power and need to cook on bbq.

A gas fire that exhausts to the outside is not any sort of a problem, I've worked on many in the UK but not seen them in any homes I have visited here in France - so far - do they exist here? You get the powerful radiant heat but no products of combustion whatsoever. If you can get one here, stick it against an outside wall and pipe it to the outside, then great! Lots of trouble free heat. They do, however, need to use the air volume of the room about 3 times per hour - but that can be piped in from the outside too: no draughts.

Re electric: our bill for the year was around 1,000€, using electric heaters during the day throughout the Winter and the woodburner at night, maintaining a minimum of 20⁰c. There are so many stories of scary LX bills but perhaps you could try LX heaters and keep an eye on your readings... If you're sensible and use the thermostats wisely, it might not be as bad as you think.

It is a tricky one; living in a rented place.

Good luck with the chateau quest, keep us all updated.

Sorry, meant to add some text.

Hi Tracy, hope this helps.

Brilliant, do you know where the legislation can be found?

That's not the case, you can have butane in a flat.

Very vaguely remember that it's ok to have a gas bottle in a house but not an apartment! And it does make a difference if it's outside but can't remember the rules, you need to have a 'google' of it.

When we moved in, the people who had been here for pushing 70 years had an open fire in one room and a gas heater in another. The front and connecting doors were permanently open. Kinda defeats the object. So we have put a conical outlet in the open fire and the wood stove in the 'other room', now our kitchen has adequate ventilation. Even wood makes fumes and evaporation, with gas or paraffin both should be taken very seriously, more so that with wood. In that sense electric heating is by far the best option - for the very rich...

Hello and thanks to everyone who replied. Drove the 20 kms to Brico Marché today, but they had no gas heaters in stock! This in spite of a leaflet in the door from them this morning offering said heaters. Plus ca change! However, some great ideas have come out of this discussion.

I'm still a bit confused about using gas heater and ventilation - seems you have to heat the room and then open the window and let the cold air in.

Hi Sheila

We also have all electric (with the exception of a gas hob T.G.). We had a wood burner put in as the open fire did not burn properly - two logs in 15 mins!!!! Our first electric bill was 900 euros for two months - that was the closest I came to going straight back home. Anyway, we have sorted it all out now. But obviously you do not want to be putting in a wood burner in rented premises. During the day we have a gas fire (bottled gas is 32 euros from Super U) and the bottle lasts about 30 days, around 8 to 9 hours a day. We also have a paraffin fire (you can buy odour free paraffin but it is a little more expensive). We pay between 23 and 27 euros, depending on special offers, and that lasts two weeks with the heater on for most of the day. We have that one at the bottom on the stairs and it does the hall and upstairs. I wouldn't like to have either in the bedroom but then we do not like having a heated bedroom anyway. It should not be more expensive for you as I believe you are a lot further south than us. Hope this helps. All the best

Out here in the wilds mains are not even on the agenda. New builds do not even include provision for the eventuality. Fosse septique rules OK!!

Cor, you two haven't lived, lol. No, they're the macerating loos so that anything flushed didn't jam the old main sewer system. Now there is proper mains in the hamlet, the downstairs one is on my 'hit list' to be replaced with a proper, flushing bog! I can't wait! No, seriously, the old ones are fine - except in a power cut. You can't even tip water down because without the leccy flush the bowl just fills up. Ho hum.

Yeah, me too, waddat? The way EDF insists on us having a large share of all available power cuts from 2 seconds to 10 hours with amazing regularity, I shudder at the thought.

electric loos - what is that all about?

Just to be clear, in case it seems a bit odd that you'd get water from burning gas, the general equation for Butane is C4H10 + O2 ----> CO2 + H2O, so you see, what comes out with the heat is carbon dioxide and water.

Ventilation: g o o d

Hi, you could try one of the parafin heaters they are much nowadays and do a good job, that would give you a good back up. Friends also have a portable indoors calor gaz heater, that looks just like a woodburner and doesn,t need an external flue, but it was more expensive than the parafin heaters

Just to add my two-pennorth: gas and parafin heaters with no outside ventilation, ie: freestanding, give out a lot of water vapour as a waste product - so - damp problems.

We use a woodburner but also quite a lot of electric and we haven't found the electric bills to be too scary so far when compared to having to buy good quality, well seasoned wood. We found a new wood burner at SuperU for 139€; not sophisticated but it works fine 53W x 63H x 40D and a cooking compartment on the top... Pas mal du tout!

Lots of people round us have gas bottles in their kitchens. There are free standing gas heaters on the market that contain a bottle so I don't see how the insurance company can object

I wonder whether storing it inside or outside the house would make a difference to insurance, or whether the insurance companies just class all bottles as a hazard.