Enjoy the benefits of modern heating

Published 5:45 am Saturday, December 16, 2017

Now that winter is rearing its icy head, I am not one of those people who wax nostalgic about fireplaces and heating their homes with open fireplaces or wood/coal burning stoves or furnaces.

Before 1998, when we bought our current home on Charlie Brown Road in Garrard County, Loretta and I relied on coal, wood or a combination of the two for winter heat, but that was nearly 20 years ago and I do not miss those days for one single second. I suspect that many, many other folks who now enjoy modern heating systems feel the same way.

When we moved here in the late 90s our first major remodeling project was the removal of an old stoker coal furnace in the basement that only heated the first floor of a two story house and replacing it with a new one that relied on propane gas and was ducted and vented to the upstairs bedrooms. Last spring we replaced it with a HVAC system that is more dependent on electricity than gas and we have been led to believe our savings in fuel costs will pay for the new system in five years or so. The jury is still out on that because the weather has been anything but typical except for the last couple of weeks.

To this day, we have no idea how a previous owner managed to get the old coal furnace installed because we found it impossible to disassemble into parts anywhere near small enough to get through any of the basement entrances. All I could figure out was that someone must have set the furnace on a concrete pad and built the house around it. However, it was mostly made of cast iron that we found fairly easy to break into manageable pieces with an 8 pound sledge hammer. It did not leave the building in pieces that could ever be reassembled into a working furnace and, to the best of my knowledge, nobody ever grieved for it.

When we first moved here, several nearby families in the neighborhood still relied on wood and/or coal burners as their primary heat sources and, I must admit, I did enjoy sitting a spell on the front porch on very cool evenings and cold, frosty mornings to savor the aroma of chimney smoke that often hung low and heavy on the breeze. If anybody hereabouts is still heating with wood or coal, I have been unable to detect them with my nose over the last couple of winters, nor, so far, this year.

Prior to taking up residence on Charlie Brown Road I spent many of my winter weekends cutting and hauling firewood from the forest owned by my late friend and fishing buddy, Junior Helton. While I do, indeed, greatly miss spending that time in the woods with Junior, I do not miss keeping a fire going in our old Fischer Mama Bear stove even though it was, arguably, the most fuel efficient wood burner ever invented.

While cutting the wood and spending with my buddy was actually enjoyable, getting the fuel from the wood pile into Mama Bear’s constantly, hungry belly was anything but. Not to mention the fact that I was often travelling on business three or four days a week and worrying that Loretta would let the fire die and be unable to rebuild it.

Last week Loretta found a device that “will turn your television into a virtual fireplace.” Apparently it runs off a thumb drive that plugs into the USB video port that is standard equipment on most tvs manufactured in this young century. You can sit back in your rocking chair and watch a wood fire burning and even imagine, I suppose, that it is putting off heat.

I would not get a single second of enjoyment out of it because I’d be sitting there wondering how long it was going to be before I had to run outside in the cold and pack in another load of wood.

Reach longtime Enterprise columnist Ike Adams at ikeadams@aol.com or on Facebook or 249 Charlie Brown Road, Paint Lick, KY 40461.