Category Archives: Energy Efficiency

A Green Burning Fireplace

Who doesn’t love the crackling warmth and coziness of a fireplace? My husband and I put this feature at the top of our list for our new home. We really want a functional outdoor space – a covered screened porch with a fireplace – and an inviting indoor space – a fireplace with cozy couches and a tv above – very exciting! With this desired feature, a question comes to mind – how can this be green and eco-friendly? Burning wood produces smoke and destroys trees? How much will this all cost and is it worth it?

WOOD burning fireplace. Our outside fireplace will be wood-burning (particularly for the smell and ambiance) and here some ways I found that we can make it green. One is to buy local wood or logs made from recycled material – most of these green logs are made from recycled sawdust and natural waxes and actually are available at Walmart! Another is to burn dry hardwoods – dense wood (birch, oak or hickory) produces more heat, less smoke and is more efficient than lightweight wood (pine or fir). Burning damp wood only creates more smoke and less efficiency. The big thing is to not burn garbage or treated wood because it releases toxins and poison into the air.

EcoGreen Fire

There are a couple other alternative fuel options for eco-friendly fireplaces, that we are looking at for indoors:
ETHANOL burning fireplace. Ethanol is an absolute alcohol, produced by the fermentation of sugars originating from agricultural and forestry products; mainly sugarcane, potatoes, bananas, beetroot and recently from cereals such as wheat. Ethanol is an alternative fuel that is not widely available. Most all regular gas stations have a blend of ethanol and gasoline, which would not work for a fireplace. I found an ethanol station locator map on the US DOE website. Unfortunately in my area, ethanol is for private use only. Looks like we’d have to purchase our fuel off the internet or local hardware store, one site I found sells four 1-gallon jugs for $100. According to one of the fireplace websites, which at least gives me a point of reference, it burns about 0.17 gallon of ethanol an hour, or 24 hours of fireplace time. Modern Companies: EcoGreen Fire and EcoSmart Fire

PROPANE burning fireplace. Our land doesn’t have natural gas line, so we’d have to get a propane tank from a local propane company. Propane is clean, non-toxic and emits less carbon dioxide than coal. We’d likely use the propane for the indoor fireplace, the tankless water heater and the outdoor grill. There are several options for a propane tank and the size tank will depend on its usage. The following website shares a good general idea of propane tanks and what you may need to be aware of, such as location of tank vs. truck to fill the tank: Build Your Own Home.

The fireplaces are very important to us because we love a good fireside chat. We’ll be able to enjoy this space with our friends and family, relax after a day of work or on the weekends. Yes, for us, it will all be worth it.

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To Be EFL Green

According to our green builder, our new house will be “Certified Green” under the EFL Program!

logo_EFLThe Environments for Living (EFL) program was nationally launched in 2001 to support builders in applying building science and energy-efficient construction practices in the field. Most homebuyers care about operating costs and resale value, but we are also concerned about our environmental impact. The EFL Program looks at the following four categories to make it Certified Green.

1) Energy-Efficiency:

  • Tight construction
  • Improved thermal systems
  • Right-Sized HVAC
  • Low-E Windows
  • Energy-Efficient Lighting
  • Energy-Efficient Appliances

2) Indoor Environmental Quality

  • Fresh Air Ventilation
  • Internal Moisture Management
  • Air Pressure Balancing
  • Combustion Safety
  • Enhanced Filtration System
  • Low VOC Paints
  • Carpet
  • Cabinetry

3) Durability

4) Water Efficiency

  • Low-Flow Faucets
  • Low-Flow Showerheads
  • High-Efficiency Dishwashers
  • High-Efficiency Toilets

Most of these standards are met by builders, but the program adds a certification to the home, which helps in value and efficiency discounts. In addition to the EFL Program, we will be saving money through the electric company in having a Certified Green home.