Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Aga Saga

Where do we stand on Agas? George Monbiot is very much against and has launched an anti-Aga campaign. They emit tons of carbon dioxide, you see. On the other hand, a book I am reading suggests they are environmentally sound. They last forever, they can be converted to any available fuel and they are remarkably efficient. Monbiot uses Agas as an example of the class element in environmentalism. They tend to be owned by the very environmentally conscious rural middle class and, as a result, he argues, they have not incurred the green wrath poured on patio heaters. He has a point. Agas feel green in that they seem to embody an older, slower, more authentic way of doing things. But is this merely cosy imagery and must the truly environmentally sound machine look more like an iPod than a gigantic cast iron stove? I think we should be told.


  1. What an impertinence! Sounds like old fashioned class war justified by so called Global Warming. If we are to have detailed enquiries into how much CO2 people cause to be emitted then I want to know how this priggish busybody Monbiot heats his house, travels about and generally conducts himself.
    Many country houses (and I'm not talking about big ones) would be unliveable in without an Aga which does everything from cooking to heating to drying sticks and washing and so on.

  2. In my parents' house the Aga was, and still is, used for cooking, heating, clothes drying, bottom warming, taking the cellar chill off red wine and general huddling around. We also once experimented by putting a nearly-dead hamster in the warming oven. It summoned up enought energy to bite my mother deeply in the ball of her thumb and then expired.

    Monbiot is a prize clot and I am increasingly delighted by his pronouncements. He is almost as reliable as Polly.

  3. First they came for the patio heaters, and now they want the Aga. Whats next my ProQ Amigo BBQ Smoker?

    What the population of this great nation really needs is a stash of guns and ammo.

  4. Dear Diary

    Today I woke up and realised that Agas are what's wrong with this world. Started Anti-Aga Campaign in my newspaper column.

    Cigarettes smoked 18, Chin Stroked 82, Sense of Self-Worth 91, Erotic Encounters with Self 3

  5. Despite what Clarissa DW and others may say, in fact AGAs are pants at cooking, good for warming dogs though, as the designer was a Swede what else can we expect.
    Lets get back to the good old days of the Kerensky government, wonderfully fertile ground for revolutionaries and all out class war, anyone owning an AGA, Rolex, BMW, a house or a Labrador, into the cells with them and thence to Siberia (or in Britain's case, Fife)

    Marvellous wide ranging blog today Bryan, the stuff of legend, from seething religious unrest to cast iron cookers designed in the land that sold the Nazi's optics and tool steel whilst allowing them to use their railways to invade their neighbours.
    And dole out Nobel prizes.

    Must dash, have to sell the Lab before it's too late.

  6. Nige beat you to this one. I'm with Sophie on Agas. In this case "older, slower" is better, far better. Cooking involves setting fire to something though one hopes not the food in most cases. No way round that one, so also using that fire to provide warmth, drying, good cheer and emergency hamster revival seems a great way of making resources go further.

  7. they're okay if you're blind (in more sense than one).

    as someone who likes to cook and has cooked on one, I would have one only if it could be fired with wood, and only used in emergencies (energy cuts etc). for that reason I wouldn't have one but a smaller, non-designer labelled alternative - possibly french, they know a bit about cooking. Malty is quite right. Pants.

  8. Are you using Aga in the same way we use the word Hoover. If so, those things are ideal, I mean really really good. And while they take a bit of feeding one way or another, some real use of the mind and you will have a workhorse. Now, if you have in mind to heat rooms with 30ft top to bottom you're on a looser, but then short of a smallish fast reactor in the back yard or a fire to roast a bullock, that is a pipedream.
    Aga, as a term of divide. It's a bit like the Landrover or the wax-jacket, just a bit pointless in a city, there you have simpler and easier ways. But out in the middle of nowhere, there is nothing like them. However there are many Aga owners who wish they had any other since the Tristram designers got their hands on the brand. Nevertheless, all are useful and there is nothing that will warm a frozen newborn lamb to life like them. That is what the bottom oven is for.

  9. Ah, statistics, statistics.

    Monbiot states that 'A large Aga running on coal turns out nine tonnes of carbon dioxide per year: 35% more than the total CO2 production of the average UK home'.

    But what about those running on other fuels? Are they better or worse? And the fact that most Agas are installed in larger than 'average' homes?

    What would be the CO2 output of the average Aga home if these tasks were performed by separate heating, drying and cooking appliances?

    The overall argument may still hold, but not on this information.

  10. Aganauts - to the barricades! (actually I think they would make very good tank traps in extremis). You take ours over our dead bodies - it's the most efficient heater I've ever come across. It's not an Aga mind - a cheap German copy - 3 sticks and we have gallons of hot water and heat. Makes no sense in an urban landscape but out in the sticks with no gas and indifferent electricity, there is no alternative. Except the heat pump out in the bog of course - looking at that, but it doesn't have the same appeal. And I have lots of fun with a chainsaw...

  11. I think that you should be told.

    There is no global warming and George Monbiot is a mentally ill green-ink merchant trading on bigotries and fighting mostly for his own sense of self-importance.

    There. Consider yourself told.

  12. Good stuff!

    We'd love an Aga, or anything that resembled one - but we live in the wrong city and the wrong kind of house, we'd be dubbed loons.

    George Monbiot is also a self-important t*** who would probably support the girl who a friend and I discussed the world's "population problem" with, in a place called "The Alternative Bookshop" in about 1980.

    She averred something like: " We should close down all inductry and electric power stations, and go back to individualo subsistence farming. I know people in Wales who do it very successfully".

    We said something like: "Do you mind then if 90% of the world's people then die, freezing in the dark?"

    Her exact words were:
    "Well, that wouldn't be such a bad thing would it".

    I remember her face as if it was a minute ago as she spoke that. She was shining with a radiated self-confidence and inner certainty.