Switching to an eco-friendly fireplace is a great alternative to conventional and gas fireplaces. Not only will it save you money in the long run, but these fireplaces are easy to install, easy to maintain, don’t hurt the environment and are offered in a wealth of varying styles and designs—making them fit into any home, patio or outdoor space.
Traditional log-burning fireplaces were great places to curl up on a cold winter’s night; but the costs of chimney upkeep, purchasing logs (not to mention logging and deforestation issues), the mess, the carbon monoxide risk and the deleterious effects on the environment have given many people pause on the old fireplace standards and the urge to look into eco-friendly fireplace alternatives. Care2.com estimates that 1.4 million out of the 5 million homes in Los Angeles have traditional fireplaces averaging a daily soot output of about 6 tons a day. Of course, not everyone has a fireplace going every day—especially in a warm area like Los Angeles—but those numbers should still raise concerns. A city already renowned for its smog problems—not to mention the fires in the surrounding mountains—the last thing that city needs is more pollutants in the air; and LA has decided upon just that, putting out a ban on wood-burning fireplaces for all new homes. Consider, too, the soot output of colder places like New England and the Midwest—places more likely to have and use fireplaces for longer periods of the year than LA. While their aesthetic values are great, the effects on the environment and on the respiratory systems of those who breathe in the soot are not. Even gas burning fireplaces with synthetic logs still consume millions of BTU each year just by their need to have the pilot light on. But not to worry, you can still achieve a good fire without the need to burn logs and corrupt the environment.
Eco-friendly fireplaces come in a couple different varieties: they can fit into existing hearths or as stand-alone options; they can be built to give off heat or simply as a decoration; and they have various fueling options. There are wood burning stoves that use condensed sawdust pellets for fuel, designed more for heating than for decoration; these stoves have better combustion and are more efficient than traditional fireplaces, making them much better for the environment. Fire logs, such as the ever popular Duraflame, are great options for those with traditional fireplaces who can’t afford the full switch. Gas log fireplaces use liquid propane or natural gas as fuel and have lower emissions than traditional fireplaces but still consume natural resources and energy. The most eco-friendly of alternative fireplaces are those that use bio-ethanol—a fuel created by organic matter like corn; the problem is that these kinds of fireplaces don’t give off much heat.
What you get instead of heat, with the bio-ethanol fireplaces, is a wider array of design options, greater ease of placement and installation, and the aesthetics of a fireplace without the mess—both in your home and in the air. The lack of heat from these fireplaces make them great for areas that have higher fire risks, such as outdoor decks and patios, or for warmer areas like LA that don’t necessary need the heat factor from their fireplace. Of course, this is where the contention from traditional wood-burning fireplaces owners is going to come in, those who need or rely on the heat from their fireplace.
Thankfully, we’ve progressed from living in cottages and cabins heated only by wood-burning stoves and fireplaces and fireplaces are no longer a necessity for most of our heating needs. Some folks like to cut down on their energy bills in winter by turning down their thermostats and supplementing their heat with that produced from the fireplace; the problem is that the heat produced is extremely local and won’t heat the whole house, pouring all that soot into the air for nothing. If saving money is your endgame, there are plenty of ways you can cut down on your energy bill and still heat your home. If heating is a concern of yours, invest in either one of the pellet burning stoves or the gas log fireplaces; they’ll both produce more environmentally safe heat while allowing you to save on energy costs.
The heat and luster of traditional fireplaces is all well and good, but those same attributes can be found in eco-friendly fireplaces that will give you exactly what you want while giving the Earth what it needs.
Author Bio: Richard Dobbins writes about fireplace’s decor and accessories and home décor for northshorefireplace.com. Richard enjoys keeping up on home décor and green living trends in his free time.