This is the time of year when things turn cooler, and houses need a little help to stay warm. Home heating systems in Ireland are quite different than those used in America, so here’s taste of how things work here. There are several basic types of heating in common use:
There’s a fireplace in almost every house here, and they are put to constant use in cold weather. Some houses have no other form of heating. The most common fuel for the fire is coal, but it is usually supplemented with wood blocks or briquettes of compressed turf.
Besides the fireplace, the most common form of heating is from a water-based radiator system. There is a boiler, usually outside, which burns natural gas or kerosene (we have a tank of kerosene behind our house), heats the water, and pumps it through the radiators to heat the house and also provide hot water for other uses. Since the boiler is much more efficient if it’s on for longer periods, almost everyone sets their heating system on a timer, not a thermostat.
For apartments or holiday homes, this is a common form of heating. It’s a system that uses electric heaters that turn on at night (when electricity is less expensive) and store up heat in bricks that then slowly release the heat during the day. This system is not extremely effective, but holiday homes are usually only in use in the summer anyway, so the builders don’t see the need to install more expensive systems.
One thing we never have to worry about is air conditioning. It just doesn’t get hot enough to need a system like that. If it starts to get warm, we open the windows.