Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Home and Eco-Hearth

Home fires burning

February's Abode Column - read it here or there

Warning: Betty is about to put a serious damper on your cozy fireplace scene (pun intended).

Most fireplaces and woodstoves are energy losers, sending heated air (and money) right out the chimney—not to mention air-polluting carbon monoxide, oxides of nitrogen, VOCs (volatile organic compounds), PMs (particulate matter), and other toxic emissions.

You can, however, reduce wood smoke pollution and get more heat for your fuel dollar. Consider using fire heat by installing a heat air exchange system and tempered fireplace glass doors. A gas or electric fireplace or fireplace insert can save money on heating. Check out EPA-certified ultra-efficient wood appliances. Not using your fireplace? Seal the damper permanently or purchase a fireplace draft stopper (95-98 percent sealed).

Can’t break the habit?

Keep the damper tightly closed when not in use. Caulk around the hearth and anywhere air could escape. Creosote buildup reduces efficiency and increases the threat of chimney fire, so hire a local chimney sweep for yearly cleaning. Darker smoke means more pollutants, so check your smoke plume from the outside regularly.
Always use seasoned firewood (dried for 6-12 months) from sustainably harvested forests (FSC label) or locally felled wood (check Munson’s at Whole Foods). Tree-free options are Dura-flame or Enviro-logs made from recycled cardboard. The absolute cleanest burning fuel alternative (virtually no particulate emissions) is pellet fuel made from sawmill waste. It’s easy to store and lightweight for transport. Check manufacturer’s instructions for compatibility.


Johnathon Kennedy said...

I have found that the best Eco-Friendly firelog on the market to be CleanFlame. It is so cleanburning that you can even cook on it. I know that you can't do that with Duraflames logs. I can't believe that CleanFlame even sells them cheaper than Duraflame too. I don't know how they do it???

BWB said...

Have you purchased these in town (Charlottesville?) If so, where? Thanks for the tip - I'll be sure to check it out. My boys and I have to have a psuedo-camp out!