This section is from "The Horticulturist, And Journal Of Rural Art And Rural Taste", by P. Barry, A. J. Downing, J. Jay Smith, Peter B. Mead, F. W. Woodward, Henry T. Williams. Also available from Amazon: Horticulturist and Journal of Rural Art and Rural Taste.
The length of time that has elapsed since the general introduction of coal has been so considerable, that it is astonishing so little economy has been studied in saving fuel, and employing the whole, or a greater part of the heat which is elicited in the operation of warming houses. An obvious improvement on the plan of heating dwellings we see now in frequent practice. There is much of the early fall and spring season when a little fire is necessary; those who have but one large furnace or heater, put it into operation, and ten to one the consumption of fuel is twice what it need be. To obviate this great objection, two furnaces are now successfully built, each of small dimensions, and alongside of each other. In moderate weather one is lighted; as soon as the cold requires, both are put into blast, the two consuming only the quantity of coal required for one, on the old plan. This is a great saving of fuel, and its economy is at once obvious.*
There can be little doubt that these furnaces make terrible inroads on our pockets. Very commonly, the major part of the heat escapes through the chimney to which it is conveyed by the pipe that carries off the gas of combustion. In every furnace built, care should be taken to save as much of this heat as is possible. To this end, the gas pipe should be carried up through the body of the house, encased as the French encase their stoves, or in some other material, such as a thin plastered wall, with openings and a draft through it. This method will sufficiently warm a hall, entry, or chamber, while in too many cases the gas is carried to an outside chimney, where, at the exit, there is constantly a stream of heat escaping, sufficient, day and night, to roast a ham; this should have been passed through drums, and a large part of it saved. As coal is now employed, it is a dearer fuel than wood in former times. True, we have more comfortable houses for our money, but the best plan of heating is yet to be invented; considering its importance, there is probably no field for inventors so vacant, and so likely to be attended with great profits.
Go into the thousands of good houses in and around our great cities; the cellar is sure to exhibit an enormous furnace blazing away the whole twenty-four hours. The cook has her range full of coal night and day; a stove or two in chambers, and probably grates in the drawing and dining rooms, are also regularly replenished. Now there is no good reason can be given why the furnace should not do the cooking quite as well, if not better, than the modern expensive range. Why not unite them? The smell of the dinner will he urged as an objection on first impression, but it is utterly futile, for the odor of the cellar itself is not allowed to ascend, the air-chamber being connected with the open air, or should be entirely so. A contrivance, simple and yet effective for this purpose, is yet a desideratum in most neighborhoods, and would largely reward an ingenious man.
* This reminds us to say that where a very extensive range of propagating, or greenhouses, are heated by a large boiler, it is a matter of prudence to have a duplicate placed close beside, ready to be worked, if any accident should happen to the other. The expense of a second boiler would be a small percentage for security, and would soon be more than paid in the saving of the heat, which would then escape from only one chimney, instead of many, when in large establishments a separate furnace is used for every house, or two or three houses.
As regards the little cooking required in summer for tea and breakfast, economical people who can obtain it, now employ gas, which boils the tea-kettle, toasts or cooks a steak as well, if not better, than a huge coal fire; yet how very few have yet adopted this obvious improvement and economy. The same jet should heat the sad-irons, and perhaps the water for washing.