According to Merriam-Webster, the definition of eco-friendly is “not environmentally harmful.” When it comes to traditional wood-burning fireplaces, they can negatively impact the environment through tree reduction and the production of carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, methane and Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC). Homeowners are choosing eco-friendly options these days for fireplaces and stoves in order to minimize the amount of pollution and negative impact on the environment.
When it comes to choosing an eco-friendly fireplace, there are five major categories you can choose from. Let’s look at what they can offer.
Out of all the options on the market, electric fireplaces are considered the most eco-friendly. Using an electric fireplace has no negative direct ecological impact. They do not produce toxic fumes or greenhouse emissions and can be recycled when no longer usable. Many families choose this type of fireplace for safety reasons—no real flame, stay cool surface options and safety switches. While some of these features may be appealing for their eco-friendliness, they may not be appealing aesthetically due to the artificial flame and limited heating capacity.
Ethanol fireplaces, an increasingly popular choice for eco-friendly fireplaces, burn ethanol. Ethanol, a biofuel commonly referred to as ethyl alcohol, mainly comes from corn and sugarcane. A clean burning option that does not produce toxic fumes or ashes, ethanol fireplaces are easy to use and provide the ambiance of a real flame. In liquid form, ethanol can be deadly if ingested. Additionally, it is very flammable; therefore, spills must be immediately cleaned up.
Producers of high heat efficiency and little pollution, pellet stoves burn pellets made from wood mill byproducts that would normally be wasted. Pellet stoves do not require exterior ventilation and produce little smoke and ash. Typically made of cast iron and stainless steel, pellet stoves are expensive to purchase and install. While the pellets are easy to store due to their small size, approximately two to three tons are needed annually and they can be hard to find.
If you are not willing to choose anything other than a wood-burning option for your fireplace, there are ways to make it eco-friendlier. The first way is to only choose firewood harvested locally from dead trees that will be replenished. When shopping for wood-burning options, consider those that are high efficiency and have EPA certification.
Gas fireplaces, consider more eco-friendly than wood, still burn fossil fuels—natural gas, which is a nonrenewable resource and poisonous if too much is released into the air. Chosen for their high efficiency, ease of use and cleaner burning (than wood), gas fireplaces have the biggest indirect environmental impact of the five categories.
If you are in need of an eco-friendly fireplace or stove for your Pittsburgh home, please call Ed’s Woodshed at 412-257-0492. For more than 35 years, Ed’s Woodshed, located in Bridgeville, PA, has been the premier retailer and installer of fireplaces and stoves in the Pittsburgh area. As a full-service provider, we work with you to find the best and most economical option for your home.
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