Woodstove heating system

Woodstove heating system has been a huge improvement in comparison to our old fashioned fireplace with an open hearth.

Although we loved our Jetmaster open fire, we found we were hardly using it. Despite cold winter nights, and poor home insulation, the schlep of emptying the heavy grate daily and cleaning out the ash was becoming too much.




Why, you may well ask? It takes a strong back to lift that heavy grate, carry it outside, empty the ash and brush it clean; not done properly, it stank and made the whole living area smell.

So it had to be really cold before we would use it.

In South Africa, the days in the main are warm, often around twenty degrees, but the nights can be very cold and frosty; and it would be nice to have the warmth in the morning too.

If you live in Chicago where I did my chiropractic training you would want to have the warmth throughout the day; but for us it was only in the evening, through the night and in the morning.

Nights can be very cold, and I remember how many years previously we actually had seven blankets on our bed in the winter. But that was long before my chiropractic stint in Chicago; then we discovered what real cold was about. Fortunately heat was laid on to the apartments for the poor students and their families.

Central heating is certainly more user friendly, but a real fire in the home takes a lot of beating.


Woodstove heating system

Woodstove heating system was a wonderful new discovery for us; it has so many pluses.


First and foremost is that temperature in the hearth is far more intense; the ash is reburnt until little remains. I don't need to carry the heavy grate outside, and it need only be cleaned out once or twice a month.That ash incidentally is quite alkaline, and perfect should you be lucky enough to have a worm farm in your garden.

There are no unpleasant odours at all.




Secondly, you too might want to get hot water from your woodstove; that kettle boils in a very short time once it's fired up.

Another joy of these modern designs is that you really don't need a woodstove blower; it draws extremely well and it's rare that I need a second match. A little cardboard makes a big difference when getting it started; then it never goes out.

That is particularly true of our woodstove heating system because the flue is twice as long in a double story home; in fact I have to be careful that it doesn't get too hot if the vent is left wide open.

The cowl needs to be higher than the pitch of the roof to draw properly; it also keeps the smoke away from roof should you be collecting rainwater.

Notice the solar hot water heater; these new vacuum tubes are extremely efficient and provided the geyser is on the roof the syphoning works extremely well without a pump; the water in that tank literally boils on a hot day. Bernard Preston is every day of his life a solar geek too.




This next photo was taken before the electrical wiring was complete; I still had that horrid bedside lamp. Now the bedside lights are on the wall above our heads, directing light onto our books and magazines at night.

A bedside light like this is a recipe for neck pain and visits to the chiropractor.


Thirdly, what is wonderful for us is that the woodstove pipe runs through our bedroom above, and keeps us snug all night; one light blanket is all we need in winter. I wear the same shorty pyjamas that I use in the summer; the thick woolly ones have been given away to some of our more needy brethren. 

And fourthly, one really can cook on your woodstove, though we usually don't; gas is more controllable.

But it's very nice for garbanzo beans in the pressure cooker, once it has a head of steam; I make hummus twice a week.




There was one unexpected minus, or perhaps it is a plus. We have plenty of timber from the garden but getting it to a manageable size presented problems. A powerful chainsaw, a commercial wood splitter and a very important piece of firewood processing equipment that I welded up, were obviously necessary; it saved my back from too much bending when cutting logs, and protected the teeth from the earth.

Using chainsaws to shape logs lying on the ground is not only dangerous, but hard on both you and your equipment.

All that started to take several hours every week, but you can purchase your timber if you have neither the time nor the inclination.

Having free firewood will pay for the equipment in a couple years but, an extra few hours' labour in the autumn getting the logs ready has to be brought into the equation.

We are greenies, and don't even have a gas or electric heater in the house, though I do in the chiropractic clinic. Burning wood does produce greenhouse gases, but then there is less demand from the large coal fired power stations. And that timber has to be got rid of in one way or another. There just isn't room in the garden for all those logs when a tree needs to be felled, or a heavy branch comes down in a storm. Sawing it up and carting it to the dump also uses fossil fuels.


Instant heat

Instant heat is one of the joys of your woodstove heating system; most of the warmth in fact comes from the flue, and that starts to glow within minutes, literally. All in all, I'm so glad we made the change; oh, and it's far safer too; no flying embers burning holes in the carpet, and threatening to burn your home down.



Here's our woodstove in the summer; even then it's used occasionally. It can get cold living at 4000 feet above sea level, even in midsummer. But it's around the solar winter solstice that it really comes into its own.

Notice the stainless steel woodstove pipe. Nothing else is acceptable.

More about lighting woodstoves.

I mentioned  that the ash from your woodstove is perfect for making the contents of your worm farm more alkaline; if you're crazy about an organic, green garden, then consider the wonder of worm farms. They are so easy to manage, and consume all the left overs and green waste from your kitchen.


Useful links



» Woodstove heating system


Solar power energy

Solar power energy is instant if you have PV panels on the roof and an inverter. Trees take longer to collect that energy from the sun and store it in the timber.

A woodstove heating system is dirty, of course, in comparison, adding to your carbon footprint, but certainly less so than a coal fired power station. And in any event you're burning timber where possible from your own garden, or trees that you see have fallen and need to be dealt with.

Modern woodstoves are turboed, with the hot air being returned to the hearth so almost total combustion occurs with little smoke or ash.

Your neighbour will love it if you offer to chop up his fallen tree and cart it away. He may even pay you.


Bernard Preston

Some twenty years ago, when folk started to titivate Bernard Preston's ego by telling him how much they enjoyed his short stories, he started to become a serious writer.

To date I have six published books, and have started on number seven.

A Family Affair is a controversial and tempestuous love affair; hang onto your hat! It's dirt cheap on your Kindle, smartphone or tablet.

On a cold winter's night, with the woodstove heating system glowing, Bernard Preston is busy.



Backcover Book I: The Bostonians.

A Family Affair is the heart-warming trilogy about family with a difference. It has two Moms, but no Dad.

Janet has a happy childhood; it’s at her Diocesan  School for Girls where she first tastes the forbidden fruit. But Santie’s mother dies and the child is sexually abused by her father. Whilst at the Police College a gate slams shut, wiping all memory of her abused childhood from Santie’s mind, but leaving her sexually very conflicted.

After studying law, Janet and Santie’s friendship blossoms whilst doing their articles, but Janet is raped by their boss at a beach party. Deciding to keep the child, Klein-Jan is the honey in the sandwich that sweetens and cements their relationship; until the toddler is kidnapped by his father.

Darkness ensues. Eventually, in desperation, their gynaecologist suggests that they have another child. But how do two women conceive a baby?

Book II: Peter’s Children

Enter Peter Thomas… is it possible for a man to be hoodwinked into siring four children and be none the wiser?

Book III: The Return

Concealed in Holland from Interpol by his father, Klein-Jan, now aged twenty, undertakes a journey to discover his roots.

Set in South Africa, A Family Affair is both a lighthearted and easy read, but also takes an inside look at serious issues; women in love, rape, abortion, AIDS and the profound love of a grandmother. It was from her home that KJ was kidnapped.

Rather more than a Mills and Boon! Sample a few free chapters of Bernard Preston at the A Family Affair home page.


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Femoral nerve AP Xray

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Bread machine loaf by Bernard Preston

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green beans and granadillas Bernard Preston

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Bees workforce in Bernard Preston's garden

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Residential solar panels at Bernard Preston's home

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View from Bernard Preston's glider