Imagine this — it’s winter and you’re enjoying a cozy evening by the fireplace with a cup of hot chocolate in your hand, wrapped in a blanket while listening to the gentle crackle of burning wood.
Now, picture this scenario wherein you’re enjoying the warmth guilt-free. As you may already know, your traditional wood-burning fireplace is not the most sustainable feature in your home. However, you can transform it into an eco-friendly haven to warm up your heart and hearth in many ways.
Discover here some advantages of going green, as well as practical tips you can use to make your fireplace eco-friendly.
The Potential Drawbacks of Wood Burning
Regardless of the type of fireplace, using one generates greenhouse gases and other emissions, which can damage the environment and health. Aside from these, here are more potential adverse effects of wood burning:
- Deforestation: Cutting down trees for the purpose of burning wood can contribute to deforestation, which can destroy local ecosystems.
- Dangerous gas: Incomplete combustion also contributes to the amount of carbon monoxide, a poisonous gas and methane, a potent greenhouse gas.
- Health complications: When wood isn’t burning correctly, particulate matter (PM) gets mixed into the air. PM consists of debris that may cause health issues.
PM is more dangerous when present in a home with no proper ventilation. These particles can penetrate deep into the lungs and carry into the bloodstream. When this happens, it can trigger conditions such as impaired lung function, asthma, irregular heartbeat and heart problems.
High levels of PM can also negatively impact the environment. If particles settle outside your home, it might cause the following:
- Damaged trees and crops
- Acid rain
- Acidification of streams and lakes
- Depleted nutrients in the soil
If you’re still using a traditional wood-burning fireplace — a method that emits a great amount of pollution — you might want to consider implementing more eco-friendly steps.
The Benefits of Going Eco-Friendly
Replacing your wood-burning fireplace with a more sustainable option can help do wonders for your home, health and the environment. The whole family can enjoy better indoor air quality without the fear of inhaling emissions, fumes and pollutants of any kind. You can rest easy knowing your health isn’t compromised as you stay warm during the colder months.
Even better, you can help reduce your carbon footprint and show love to the world you live in.
7 Ways to Make Your Fireplace Eco-Friendly
Now that you’ve decided to take the first step toward making your home and the environment a safer place, it’s essential to arm yourself with valuable information. Here’s what you can do to enjoy a safer kind of warmth this winter season:
1. Ensure Enough Oxygen
To do this, ensure enough oxygen in the room to aid the wood combustion. This will help increase the height of your flames and improve ventilation. Lack of oxygen can lead to the production of harmful by-products.
You can open a ventilation grille or a nearby window to invite a source of fresh air into your home. You can also ask a chimney specialist to install an outdoor air kit.
2. Use Electric Fires
Electric fires may not generate as much heat as wood, but they’re significantly more eco-friendly. They do not produce PM and fossil fuels. The only downside is that they consume high levels of electricity, which may still contribute to carbon emissions.
When shifting to electric fire, it’s worth noting that electricity is more expensive than biofuel or gas. However, it may be worth splurging on if it means protecting the environment and your home.
3. Burn Quality Wood
Use the suitable wood to create an efficient fire. Use hardwoods that have dried for around two years to ensure proper combustion. Light the fire with wood blocks and firelighters. Use slow-burning woods such as oak, birch and fruit tree woods.
Do not burn household trash, pressure-treated wood, ocean driftwood, moldy wood and animal remains, as these can release toxic and harmful chemicals that may cause complications to your fireplace and health.
4. Open Gas Stoves
A fireplace using natural gas burns much cleaner and safer than other fuel types. Your gas stove can contribute high levels of heat, which you can use to keep your home warm without electricity. This might not be the best option when heating a larger home, but it’s economical for small spaces. Here are some reasons why you should convert from wood to gas:
- Convenient: Gas is easy to use since fireplaces have an on/off switch button to save you from the hassle of kneeling on the floor to blow on hot coals.
- Eco-friendly: Natural gas doesn’t produce particulate pollution, ash or smoke, contributing less carbon dioxide than other fuel types.
- Time-saving: Maintaining a gas fireplace is easier than using a traditional wood-burning type.
- Versatile: There are various types and styles available in the market to choose from.
Additionally, they produce lower emissions. You can vent it through your chimney or directly through a wall behind the appliance. However, it’s essential to take note of the possible downsides, such as the costly price of propane and the release of fossil fuels.
5. Do Regular Cleaning
An unswept chimney is a fire and health hazard. When debris and creosote buildup are trapped inside, the fireplace cannot draw enough oxygen to fuel an efficient fire. A chimney sweep allows your fire to breathe properly, contributing to proper combustion in the fireplace.
During the cleaning process, ensure you have the chimney and fireplace inspected for any crevices, gaps, leaks and cracks. Have these repaired to improve the ventilation further.
6. Weatherize Your Home
Weatherization refers to enhancing the home’s ability to retain heated and cooled air. A well-sealed home results in a well-insulated environment, making your home more comfortable and energy-efficient in the long run.
To do this, you can seal air leaks around your chimney, gas-fired water heater vents and gas-fired water with fire-resistant materials like sheet metal to save energy in your home. You can also consider weather stripping and caulking to seal cracks on door frames and windows.
Improve insulation in home areas such as the basement, attic, crawl spaces and any exposed deck areas. Small one-time investments, such as replacing fluorescent lights with LEDs, can save you money in the long run.
7. Use a Bio-Ethanol Fireplace
A bio-ethanol fireplace burns fuel made up of fermented vegetable matter, which is significantly more pro-planet than fossil fuels. It is odorless, easy to use, versatile and stylish, too. Unlike traditional fireplaces, this eco-friendly option doesn’t require a flue, so that it can be mounted almost anywhere.
The by-products of this fireplace are small amounts of carbon dioxide — no ashes and smoke that can potentially damage your furniture. You can have peace of mind knowing that it also contributes minimal indoor air pollution.
Even better, it distributes the warmth evenly around the house, giving them a better advantage than gas stoves, which can only provide enough heat in a small space.
Enjoy a Healthier, More Eco-Friendly Fireplace
After reading all these tips, you’ll realize it’s easy to make small steps towards a better environment!
Start the change in your fireplace. Feel free to apply these actionable tips to save energy and keep your body, house and environment healthier.