Heating

Though open fires remained popular, 1970s houses were often heated from other sources such as wood burners, and gas and electric heating.

By the 1970s, homeowners were aware that open fires were not the most efficient form of heating and this, coupled with a wider range of heating options, brought about changes in the way houses were heated.

As well as open fires, heating was also provided by wood burners, electric panel and storage heaters, oil burners (possibly with ducted heating) and gas heaters (radiant heaters replacing the open fire, panel heaters, and ducted systems).

Open fires and wood burners

Open fires

Though open fires were less popular than they once were, they still often provided the focal point of a living room. They were commonly located on an outside wall, though plan books of the time regularly show internal fireplaces too.

The fireplace and chimney were typically constructed from reinforced concrete. Often, the fireplace surround was clad full-height with stone or brick, and the same cladding was used as exterior chimney cladding.

'Visor' type free-standing metal open fireplaces also appeared during the 1970s.

Wood burners

Free standing steel wood burners became more popular during the 1970s as people recognised their superior heating performance when compared with open fires. Coal burners were also installed in a few homes.

There was more flexibility with the location of a wood burner as it employed light construction to accommodate the flue.

According to the 1971/72 Household Electricity Survey, solid fuel heating was used in 59% of existing houses in the early 1970s, but the 1976 Census figures showed that solid fuel use for heating had dropped to 49%.

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Electric heating

By the early 1970s, approximately 30% of homes had only electric heating, and electricity was being used by 54% of households for some or all of the space heating requirements.

Storage or panel heaters were common. Electric heaters were often wall-mounted units that were installed as the focus of the living room.

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Gas heating

Gas heaters could be flued wall-mounted radiant units installed as the focus of the living room, or unflued wall mounted units designed for use in spaces such as hallways. Unflued gas heaters used in poorly ventilated houses are likely to contribute to significant condensation problems because of the amount of water emitted from the units when in operation.

The advantage of gas was the quick heat it produced with less labour involved than solid fuels, and it could be used for central heating with ducted warm air to heat the whole house.

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Oil fired heating

As oil was still relatively inexpensive during this period, a number of homes had an oil fired furnace supplying hot air via ducts to the main living spaces. Many of these units have not been removed but are no longer used due to the cost of fuel.