Manataka™ American Indian Council
MOTHER EARTH WATCH
Your Heating Dollars—Up in Smoke
Fireplaces also generate a lot of air pollution. Wood smoke contains carbon monoxide (CO), nitrogen oxides (NOx), and fine particulates that can aggravate asthma, allergies, and other health conditions.
Several options are available for upgrading your fireplace so you can cozy up to a fire while actually increasing your home’s energy efficiency and reducing pollution:
Wood stoves. Units certified by the Environmental
Protection Agency (EPA) generate between two and five grams of
particulate matter per hour of operation compared with the 40 to 60
grams per hour generated by a conventional fireplace. They also operate
at 80 percent efficiency—similar to other home heating sources. You can
purchase a freestanding unit or one that inserts into your existing
fireplace; many come with blowers to help direct the heated air into
your living space. (See the related resources for a list of models.)
Pellet stoves. Instead of wood logs, these stoves burn
small pellets made from compressed wood and other plant waste, and
produce so little pollution that they do not require EPA certification.
Pellet stoves do require electricity (about 100 kilowatt-hours per month
under normal usage) to feed pellets into the combustion chamber, so they
will not work during a power outage unless you have a generator. Like
wood stoves, pellet stoves are available as freestanding units or
Gas fireplace inserts. Natural gas- or propane-fueled inserts offer the warmth and ambiance of a fire without the need to load wood (or pellets) or dispose of ash. Gas inserts are up to 80 percent efficient and generate low levels of pollution.
There are also several ways to improve the operation of your existing fireplace and prevent heat loss:
tempered glass doors and keep them (and the flue) shut when the
fireplace is not in use.
Install a heat-air exchange system that will blow warm
air back into the room (minus the smoke).
air leaks around the fireplace doors, flue, and chimney and add
caulking as needed.
thermostat to between 50 and 55 degrees when the fireplace is
in use, and shut doors leading into the room.
Crack a window near the fireplace to increase fresh air flow and minimize smoke.
Environmental Protection Agency—Cleaner Burning Wood Stoves and Fireplaces
Environmental Protection Agency—Consumer’s Guide to Wood and Pellet Heating
U.S. Department of Energy—Fireplace Tips
Source: Greentips - Union of Concerned Scientists firstname.lastname@example.org
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