A solid choice for a family home
When Lara and Alex Stechman, together with their two-year-old son, took ownership of their four-bedroom period detached home in Colchester, it was already a perfect family home.
Originally built in 1918, the period property boasts a single and double storey extension at the rear of the property, and benefitted from having been modernised throughout a few years beforehand. It had also undergone a comprehensive renovation project before the purchase, so all that remained for the Stechmans to do was unpack and carry out any cosmetic changes according their personal taste.
The one remaining project left to the young family was to make use of the empty fireplace within the living room, left open for the new occupiers to choose the best solution of either a solid fuel stove or a traditional open fire, according to their style preference and the requirements of the family.
Lara comments: “I have always loved a real fire and for the longest time I have dreamed of having my own wood-burning stove. Having a small child, we also thought a stove would be the better and safest option, rather than opting for an open fireplace.”
Aside from the child safety aspect, by choosing a stove the Stechmans would be installing a more energy-efficient heating source than an open fire. Solid fuel stoves are generally around 80% efficient, compared to an open fire which is drastically less at about 15%.
The couple looked to the Dimplex range of wood-burning stoves, which includes the Langbrook and Bellingham models, developed with traditional proportions and modern detailing in order to complement various design options. They opted for the Dimplex Langbrook 5kW solid fuel stove.
Lara explains: “I was immediately struck by the Langbrook’s simple, curvaceous good looks. My interior’s style is mid-century with a Scandi influence and so I loved the clean lines, the sleek handle, and the large viewing window – because who doesn’t love watching flames dance around on a cold evening?”
The Langbrook is a contemporary, multi-fuel, metallic black finish 5kW output stove with a full cast-iron body, door and feet, plus an airwash system to maintain that all-important clear door glass. Suitable for burning wood (with 77% tested efficiency) and manufactured smokeless fuels (with 78.4% tested efficiency), it is DEFRA-exempt to allow wood burning in UK Smoke Control Areas.
The stove meets the UK building regulations standard for installation, allowing it to be installed on a 12mm non-combustible hearth which can be cheaper and easier as a full-depth concrete hearth is not needed. It is suitable for top or rear flue, offering maximum flexibility for installation positions.
Lara comments: “It didn’t take long for the workmen to have the stove in place and ready for use. The only stumbling block we faced was that the wooden fire surround that was already in place did not meet regulations. There wasn't a large enough gap between the stove and the wooden surround so we had to make the choice to have it removed before installation of the stove could take place.
“Now it’s in place, we are all really pleased with the stove. The Langbrook is a very substantial stove and extremely sturdy – exactly what you want in a young family home. It looks fabulous, even when not in use, and it fits in perfectly with our style - making perfect finishing touch to our living room. When we have had it on so far it’s been so easy to maintain and control, and it has heated the room up beautifully.”
The added benefit of a solid fuel stove is that it can be used in isolation from the home’s central heating and therefore can reduce the time that the more carbon-intensive, whole-house heating system is in operation. In fact, wood-burning in particular, being a renewable resource, is carbon-neutral and therefore generally considered to be environmentally-friendly. Not only does wood release the same amount of carbon dioxide when burnt as it absorbed whilst it was growing, it would actually release the same amount if left to rot on the forest floor.
Lara concludes: “When we were shopping for a stove, the environmental credentials weren’t as high on our list as our safety concerns for our son. However I’ve been very happy to learn that we’ve ended up with a highly efficient heating appliance that uses a sustainable, carbon-neutral source of fuel – all whilst providing a beautiful focal point in our home.”
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