5 Hot Tips for Eco-friendly Fireplace Heating
Stop! The fireplace you are about to light may be hazardous to the environment. And if you’re like a lot of folks these days, you want to do your part to save the planet. But on blistery cold days that thought often goes out the chimney along with toxic gases, chemicals and particulates. Fortunately, you can enjoy the warmth of the hearth and reduce your carbon footprint with these 5 hot tips for eco-friendly fireplace heating:
Clean your chimney
A safe and eco-friendly fire starts with a clean chimney. Each time you use the fireplace, the soot (a slick, tarry substance called creosote) builds-up alongside the walls inside the chimney. The gradual build-up of this flammable contaminant increases the amount of pollution that is released into the atmosphere when you light the fireplace. Because of its combustible properties it is also the leading cause of chimney fires. So, to burn more efficiently and safely, have your chimney professionally cleaned by a certified chimney sweep at least once per year.
Choose quality “seasoned” firewood
Always choose quality “seasoned” firewood like oak, maple, walnut, cherry and birch, for example. The curing process of seasoned firewood dries out the wood to significantly reduce the moisture content to approximately 20 percent or less. Freshly chopped unseasoned or “green” firewood contains approximately 50 percent or more of moisture. This additional moisture content not only burns the wood faster and at a lower temperature, it also produces more smoke containing high amounts of creosote.
Don’t let your fire smolder
Never let the fire in your fireplace smolder. The smoldering wood embers spew smoke-laden greenhouse gases such as carbon monoxide, nitrous oxide and other pollutants into the atmosphere. Always extinguish the fireplace properly before going to bed or leaving your home.
Use eco-friendly kindling
Use eco-friendly kindling sticks from dry, softwoods like cedar and pine to light your fireplace. If you plan to wrap the sticks in paper to help fuel the fire, be sure that it is plain and not chemically treated. While black and white newsprint is safe to use, glossy and colored paper contain toxic chemicals that are harmful to the environment. Also, never use gasoline, or any other type of flammable liquid to light a fire in your fireplace. In addition to its noxious fumes, depending on the oxygen level of your fireplace, it may combust into an explosion. That will certainly put a damper on anyone’s holiday spirit.
Install a fireplace insert
An eco friendly fireplace insert can provide an eight-fold increase in the heating efficiency of your fireplace. There are a number of electric and bio-fuel fireplace inserts available that can be easily installed into an existing fireplace or used as a stand-alone supplemental heating source in rooms without a fireplace.