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Sunday, May 10, 2015

My Decorative Fireplace


Here in Bakersfield, California most homes built since the 1960s have fireplaces in them—not for heating anything—but to be purely decorative.

My home is one such house.

During the so-called winter “cold snap” here where overnight temperatures may hover around 31 degrees for four to five days—even if I were to leave the heater off—the internal temperature of my home might get down to maybe 50-55 degrees.

Heat from cooking, baking, and showering has a surprising effect on the temperature of the place.

It is also very well insulated.

Throw on a sweater and the heater is virtually useless.

Yet, I have a decorative fireplace that sends most of the heat up the chimney. 

Sure it has a very loud blower to duct some heat into the room—just enough to make the room unpleasant with the heater on.

I’ve burned wood in my fireplace, but the novelty of it wore off years ago when I tired of cleaning up the ashes.

My fireplace has a gas jet and—in theory—I could cook on the iron grating for fire wood, but I have a gas stove—so if I have gas—cooking in the fireplace is of dubious merit.

What is much more likely to happen here in California is a rolling power blackout and—if it happens at night—I have the perfect solution.

My fireplace is full of cheap candles from the Dollar Tree store. If the power goes out when it is dark outside, I can fire up the candles and light the room well enough to read a novel if seated near the hearth.

Beyond that, using fireplaces here for wood or gas is nearly impossible given the level of pollution in the air which prompts many no-burn days, especially in the winter when we experience fog.

Sometimes I light the candles even when there is no power outage.

If you have a purely decorative fireplace, get some candles and make it a part of your preparedness.

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