Ah, the Aga.
Amongst my earliest childhood memories are various conversations I overheard between parents and relatives concerning the Aga. I think I probably didn’t actually discover exactly what an Aga was until some time later, by which time “The Aga” had taken on a somewhat mythical status.
Here was an invention which could comfortably heat the whole house all year round. It could roast, stew, steam, simmer, toast, bake, fry, and stew food (and apparently food always tastes better when cooked in or on an Aga) whilst boiling enough water to keep an army supplied with cups of tea. It could even dry your clothes and all the while was invariably the focal point for the most memorable of family gatherings.
Indeed to listen to my parents or grandparents talk, you would imagine that the Aga was the God of all household appliances – if one owned an Aga it meant not having to have sundry other appliances because the Aga “did it all” and anything less was simply inferior in every way. Even then I get the impression that Agas were expensive although they were designed to last “a lifetime” and I felt as though ownership was regarded as something to aspire to; an exclusive club which somehow guaranteed a better quality of life. In my mind’s eye it all conjures up pictures of those 1950’s adverts extolling the dreams of domestic bliss.
Of course Agas have been around for about 100 years now, and whilst they still remain popular many of us have come to realise that the earlier designs are perhaps not as economical or environmentally sound as we would like in these perhaps more enlightened times.
A lot of people still love the Aga however (or are in love with the idea of owning one), and given their reputation for reliability and longevity over conventional range cookers this is hardly surprising. Some People have gone that little bit further, determined to breathe a new lease of life into this faithful servant and as a consequence have found that there are actually various benefits to be had in converting their Agas from oil or gas to electricity.
- Firstly Agas can be converted reasonably cheaply, with the cost of conversion generally recouped quite rapidly.
- Electrical energy is generally regarded as a far “cleaner” form of power than oil, gas and other fossil fuels especially as more sustainable sources of electricity are developed.
- Almost every model is suitable for electric conversion. So if you have an Aga but are concerned about rising costs, there is plenty of potential for savings.
- Fuel economy is improved, reducing fuel consumption, emissions and the associated financial and environmental costs.
- Converting to electric removes the need for a chimney or flue. No chimney/flue reduces the likelihood of temperature fluctuations caused by drafts and in turn, this allows more flexibility for siting the Aga within the home.
- There are no naked flames, mitigating the risk of fires.
- The potential for gas or oil leakage is removed and conversion to electric means no more fuel odour.
- Optional timers allow for greater control with the electric version, whereas gas and oil variants had to be in constant operation including being left on whilst you were away.
- Periods between services are generally greatly improved. With gas or oil models the service interval tended to shrink as the appliance aged, but electric Agas generally need only an annual check and can realistically go 5yrs without needing a service.
- Also consider that actually disposing of an old Aga can be problematic in itself. Models were built to last and are fairly solid bits of engineering in their own right so removing them and breaking them down into their component parts for disposal or recycling can be both an intensive and expensive process.
- It makes more sense to invest in the long term by adapting a design already proven to be effective over the last century rather than constantly trying to “reinvent the wheel”.
As you can see from the above points, there are a number of ways that converting an existing Aga to electric can be of benefit to both the consumer and the environment. As I said at the top of this article Agas have a reputation for reliability and an excellent life-span, still often unmatched by the more “modern” conventional equivalents and the trend for converting Agas to electric power has grown of late in a manner that reflects this.
So before you consider consigning the old workhorse to the scrapheap, take the time to consider that converting your Aga and giving it a new lease of life might well be better from both an economical and ethical standpoint.