5 Tips for Cheap and Eco-friendly Fires
You know it’s that yuletide time of year when pillows of smoke are billowing out of the chimneys on a chilly night. It’s good to know that a wood-burning fireplace may not be as eco-friendly or cheap as some you may believe, depending on the age & upkeep of the unit. While wood is a naturally renewable material, the burning process sends carbon dioxide, methane gas and black carbon up into the atmosphere. Also, as much as 50 percent of the heat is lost through the chimney, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. But don’t douse the flames just yet; here are 5 tips for enjoying cheap and eco-friendly fires.
Burn High Quality Wood
The type of wood you burn in the fireplace makes a huge difference in just how much heat is produced. And the more smoke that goes up the chimney, the more energy that goes along with it. So to cut down on the moisture content only burn seasoned wood that’s been thoroughly dried for at least six months. You will be rewarded with a cleaner, hotter, and more efficient fire.
Weatherize your Home
Weatherizing your home will increase your energy efficiency and save money. The U.S. Department of Energy states that homeowners can save up to $220 annually on average in heating and cooling costs by weatherizing their homes and adding insulation. In addition to major weatherization projects, like buying new windows, there are other cheap things you can do to save money on heating costs. For instance, use caulking and weather stripping to seal leaks and cracks around windows and door frames. Other areas where you can add insulation include the attic, basement, crawl spaces and any exposed deck areas. You can also check the flashing between the chimney and roof-line to ensure it is completely sealed.
Install an EPA-Certified Fireplace Insert
Installing an EPA certified fireplace insert will make your fireplace more energy efficient and eco-friendly too. These wood burning appliances are up to 50 percent more efficient than a traditional fireplace and require about one-third less fuel. In addition, an EPA-certified heating appliance captures more heat, and radiates it into the room, rather than escaping through your chimney. For even greater heating efficiency, install a fireplace insert with a UL-listed stainless steel liner that runs to the top of the chimney.
Sweep Your Chimney
An unswept chimney is not only a fire hazard, the added smoke and particulates are harmful to the environment. The fireplace cannot draw enough air to fuel an efficient fire when the chimney is lined with creosote, dirt, debris or other obstructions. Sweeping the chimney allows fires to breathe properly substantially increasing the heating efficiency of the fireplace. During the cleaning, make sure you have the chimney inspected for any cracks, crevices or gaps, and seal any which are found to help save energy.
Install Tempered Glass Doors
Tempered glass fireplace doors are designed to regulate the air flow and can increase energy efficiency by as much as 20%. When installing glass doors, make sure they are sealed all the way around to avoid drafts.