With improvements in gas burners, we may expect to light rooms perfectly with a less expenditure of gas than we now do. But we cannot light a room without in some measure creating heat; and I think I have shown that we want this heat at the ceiling line for the greater part of the year.
In summer we do not use gas for many hours; but, on the other hand, it is more difficult, with an outside temperature at 65° to 70° Fahr., to keep the air in proper movement in small rooms. There are also times in the fall of the year, and also in spring, when the nights are unusually warm; and, with a few friends in our rooms, the lighting becomes a "hot" question, not to say a "burning" one. On these occasions we have to resort to exceptional ventilation, which for ordinary every-day life would be too much. It is then, and on summer nights, that the system of ventilation by diffusion is most useful. To explain it, when two volumes of air of different temperatures or specific gravities find themselves on opposite sides of a screen or other medium, of muslin, cloth, or some more or less porous substance, they diffuse themselves through this medium with varying rapidity, until they become of equal density or temperature. Therefore, if we fill the upper part of a window (which can be opened, downward) with a strained piece of fine muslin or washed common calico, the air in the room, if hotter than the external air, will, when the window is more or less opened, pass out readily into the cooler air, and the cooler air will pass in through the pores of the medium.
The hotter air passing out faster than the cooler air will come in, no draught will be experienced; and the window may be opened very widely without any discomfort from it.
It is, of course, quite impossible, in the limits of a paper, to do more than indicate a means of ventilation which will be effective under most circumstances of lighting with those gas burners and fittings usually employed, and which will lend itself readily to modifications which will be necessitated by the use of some of the newest forms of burners and ventilating gas lights.
In conclusion, I wish to draw attention to an important discovery I have made in reference to blackened ceilings, for which, up to the present time, gas has been chiefly blamed. I have long entertained the belief that with a proper burner it is possible to obtain perfect combustion, without any smoke; and a series of experiments with white porcelain plates hung over some burners used in my own house proved conclusively that the discoloration which spread itself all over my whitewashed ceilings arose from the state of the atmosphere, which in all large towns is largely mixed with heavy smoky particles, and from the dust or dirt created in rooms by the use of coal fires as well as from the smoke which, more frequently than one is at first supposed to imagine, escapes from the fire-place into the room. I therefore, in two of my best rooms, which required to have the ceilings whitened every year, substituted varnished paper ceilings (light oak paper, simply put on in the usual way, and varnished) instead of whitewash. I also changed the coal fires for gas fires. These alterations have gone through the test of two winters, and the ceilings are now as clean as when they were first done. The burners have been used every night, and the gas fires every day, during the two winters.
No alteration has been made in the burners employed, and no "consumers" have been used over them. If the varnished paper ceilings are tried, I am sure that every one will like them better than the time honored dirty whitewash, which is simply a fine sieve. This fact is clearly shown by the appearance of the rafters, which, after a short time, invariably show themselves whiter than the spaces between.
A paper read before the Gas Institute, Manchester, June, 1885.