Nothing beats an open fire or wood burner for adding character to a second home, as well as making winter visits extra snuggly. Here are reasons to consider one…

Beautiful farmhouse in rural Catalonia, Spain

It does get cold in the Med!
The lure of guaranteed sunshine is what drives most people to buy a second home in a hot climate. But don’t be fooled into thinking it’s hot all year-round in popular Mediterranean destinations, such Spain or France.

If you’re not in a proven winter sun location, such as the Canary Islands or Cyprus, temperatures do drop over the winter months. And if you’re based inland or near mountain ranges, it can get really cold. So what better way to warm up than by curling up next to a real fire!

Save on energy bills
Gas, electricity and oil all cost money wherever you are in the world and in some countries these can be dearer than in the UK. Lighting a wood burner or fire, at least in the evenings, means you shouldn’t need your central heating or electric heaters on as much, thereby reducing your bills.

Stone character home in France’s Lot region

And of course, as a natural source of heat, a fire will never let you down – unlike boilers which can break down, pipes that can burst or electricity that disappears during a power cut! A quality cast-iron burner will continue to emit heat long after the flames have gone out.

You’re being eco-friendly
If you stick to burning the right wood, for example seasoned wood from a reputable, renewable supplier rather than varnished scrap wood, the process is carbon neutral. Wooden logs do emit carbon dioxide when they are burned, but this is then neutralised by growing replacement trees.

In some countries, such as France, you can receive a tax credit towards the purchase price and installation of a burner that carries a specified energy efficiency accreditation. Seasoned wood, including vine or olive wood, is widely available in European countries, as are specially produced pellets for certain burners.

Feature fireplace in a ‘trullo’ in Puglia, Italy

They’re a great feature
Fireplaces and wood burners, whether traditional or modern, help transform a room into a homely space with an attractive focal point.

Like fire, they have a magnetic quality and naturally attract the occupants of the room, creating a warm, cosy environment – one that is ideal for getting to know your new neighbours over a drink or two.

Original fireplaces, usually made of stone, are often the architectural highlight of older properties abroad and also have historical value, being a structural feature that remains unchanged throughout a property’s lifespan.

Traditional living room in Brittany, France

Food and drink
Who doesn’t like roasting chestnuts – widely available across the Continent – on an open fire? Or be brave and open up the marshmallows.

Meanwhile the top of a burner is the ideal spot for keeping drinks or your dinner warm.