Inspired Habitat: Time to Get Toasty – Tips for a Greener Fireplace

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Ah, the cool, crisp days of fall! It conjures up images of brisk nights spent curled in front of a blazing fire. But that cheery fire is not so cheery for the environment. It may look pretty, but if you’re burning plain old wood in that fireplace, you’re belching lots of smoke, soot and other unpleasant stuff into the air. Add in the fact that the typical fireplace isn’t even really efficient at heating the house and suddenly a crackling fire starts to lose its appeal.

Does that mean giving up the joys of a fire? Nope! There are eco-friendly options on the market that look good, and still minimize the environmental impact. What’s even better, some of these options are usable even in communities that have banned burning wood.

So what’s out there that’s green and burnable? From installing a new, green fireplace, to retrofitting your existing one and everything in between, here are a few choices.

Glass – One of the latest additions to the market is colored, tempered glass cubes or pebbles, there are even recycled glass options. The glass pieces are placed in a specially designed container. It’s easy to retrofit any fireplace with the kits. The glass releases no toxins and the amount of gas used is less than a standard gas fireplace. They do burn cooler, so you won’t be able to toast marshmallows on these things, but the look is nice and can still ward off winter’s chill.

Denatured Ethanol – This option requires replacing your existing fireplace, or installing a new one. Ethanol is clean burning and the fireplaces don’t even require a flu. There are a lot of chemicals that go into the process of making ethanol, and it does require a special fireplace, but if you want the look of a “real” fire and can’t put in a regular fireplace, it’s a solid option. There are also “insert” options that will fit within your existing fireplace. The newer versions look nothing like Grandmother’s fake log fire.

Go Virtual – OK, maybe it lacks the appeal of a crackling fire, but if you can’t do real flames, or have no regular fireplace, or… well, any number of reasons. You can opt for a DVD of a cozy, roaring fire, or invest a little in one of the portable, electric heaters that features an amazingly realistic looking “virtual fire”. Is it as good as the real thing? Of course not. But it’s an eco-friendlier way to get the look and feel without the hassle, mess and other unpleasant stuff.

Faux Logs – If you just have to have a real fire, with something that at least looks like wood, take a look at some of today’s wood alternatives. They release up to 80-percent fewer emissions, which means less carbon monoxide, plus less soot and creosote in your chimney. Check these out:

  • Energy Logs – Made from recycled mill waste and compressed into a high-density log, these contain no additives, must natural fir and larch.
  • Java Logs – Recycled coffee grounds find their way into these logs that also use renewable, natural waxes and produce 78% less carbon monoxide than wood.
  • Terracycle Fire Logs – These logs take wax-coated cardboard boxes and transform them into a hot-burning, cleaner fire log.
  • Eco Logs – Also made from recycled cardboard, these logs burn cleaner and hotter than wood.
  • Clean Flame Fire Logs – Recycled food-grade cardboard containers are recycled into fire logs that produce 80% less carbon monoxide and 50% more heat per pound than oak.

So there you have it. Lots of different ways to enjoy a green, guilt-free fire this fall and winter. Time to get toasty!

Inspired Habitat is written by local environmentally-conscious lifestyle website Bambeco, a company committed to advancing a more sustainable world.

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