Don’t let yourself be fooled by the romantic or aesthetic appeal of traditional fireplaces.
There are dozens of millions of homes with fireplaces worldwide. Unfortunately they heat too little (90% of the heat goes up through the chimney) and they emit dangerous pollutants.
As the American Lung Association puts it: "Burning wood emits harmful toxins and fine particles in the air that can worsen breathing problems and lead to heart and lung disease and even early death"
There are now “energy efficient fireplaces”. They come (in North America) with a white tag, certifying that they are at least 70% cleaner than non-qualified models.
But they too are a poor choice. They are a lot more pollutant and less efficient than wood stoves and fireplaces inserts using the new stove technology.
See: Insert Fireplaces
Most electric fireplaces are mainly decorative, but they may have a realistic flame and a reasonable heat output, ideal for occasional and small heating needs.
Stay away from other types of decorative fireplaces: gas logs, gel…
Fireplace inserts are at their core heating stoves designed to fit in the opening of existing fireplaces.
They can run on gas, wood, pellets or electricity, and they have a good heat output.
The EPA estimates at 12 million the number of wood heating stoves installed in American homes. And there are many more worldwide. Unfortunately most of them are energy wasters, as unsafe and as unhealthy as traditional fireplaces. They have a greater heat output than fireplaces (say, 5 or 6 times more), but they are very pollutant and inefficient.
Only new qualified models provide a good output, though often overestimated by manufacturers. The use of unseasoned wood makes them a lot less efficient.
Pellet stoves and gas stoves are the two best choices in the stove family.
Pellet stoves provide a good flame-effect and are far cleaner and more efficient than wood heating stoves.
New gas heating stoves are a cleaner and healthier option than wood stoves or the traditional fireplaces. They do not emit large amounts of pollutants. And they can have a good heat output.
But do they make sense in modern homes?
Wood burning can be carbon neutral as long as the wood is grown and harvested sustainably. But wood burning in traditional fireplaces and stoves are harmful to our health and can be environmentally-unfriendly.
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