The interior of a masonry stove is usually made of brick. The exterior tiles can be brick, stone, stucco, or a combination of these materials. Many vintage masonry stoves, like this one in Catherine Palace, St. Petersburg, are works of art.
Homeowners trying to cut their heating bills may be better off looking to the past for the most efficient heating technology. The tile stove (sometimes called a Hungarian, German, or masonry stove), based on a fourteenth-century design, can cut home heating bills up to 75 percent.
Unlike conventional stoves and fireplaces that send gases (and heat) directly up a chimney, the exhaust in a tile stove takes a circuitous route to the outside, traveling through interior channels that absorb its heat and transfer it to the surrounding masonry walls of the stove, which slowly radiate the heat back into the house at a lower, more comfortable temperature than a metal stove does. And, because the inside of the stove is masonry and not metal, the fire burns much hotter, which significantly reduces harmful emissions.
A tile stove warms an average size house for 12 hours on just one small bundle of wood. Hay and straw can also be used.
Peter Breuer, who lives in Essex, England, was able to turn off his central heating unit entirely after installing a tile stove. He says, “With most stoves, you put some wood in and you get a nice little fire, but as soon as the flame's gone down, the heat disappears. But a tile stove works as a storage heater because there is a great mass of masonry inside which heats up and radiates heat through the tiles.”
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