Two Clean Alternatives to Traditional Fireplaces

March 19, 2019 Leave a comment Alternative Energy, Electric, Preservation

It’s hard not to love having a fireplace in your home, especially this time of year. They warm your house up from the inside out and give your family a great place to gather on these cold winter nights.

Unfortunately, it’s not all good. Not only do fireplaces rely on chopping down trees for firewood, but they also are relatively dirty burning. They put off black smoke that deposits on the inside of your chimney and they put out greenhouse gasses that ultimately end up in the atmosphere.

Luckily, these days that are a couple of nice alternatives that will still serve many of the benefits of a traditional fireplace, but will also be less harmful to the environment by consuming less wood and by reducing the amount of smog emitted into the air.

Gas Fireplaces

The first alternative style is the gas fireplace. These are usually powered by either propane or natural gas, whichever is more readily available in your home. They are usually inserted directly into your existing hearth and use the chimney as the primary exhaust. This doesn’t mean that you need a chimney to use one, though. You can also have a custom install where venting can be designed as needed to suit your home.

The upsides of gas fireplaces are that they are incredibly warm and they still have a bonafide flame. You may not even realize that you have a faux fireplace alternative, except for the fact that you’ll never have to get up to feed it another log.

The downsides of gas fireplaces are that they still do burn fuel, however clean burning this may be. This means that not only will you have to pay for fossil fuels but you are still consuming them. If reducing your fossil fuel use is one of your life goals, this might not be the way to go for you. Also, by burning natural gas or propane there are a few inherent safety hazards. Gas leaks can be incredibly dangerous, and though they are no more dangerous than having a gas stove, a gas fireplace is one more place where things can go wrong. Additionally, simply having a real flame is a potential fire hazard. Granted this is a risk you can mitigate, but it is something to keep in mind.

Electric Fireplaces

The second alternative to traditional fireplaces that is becoming increasingly popular in the last several years is the electric fireplace. The beauty of electric fireplaces is that they don’t have any combustion whatsoever. No flames or exhaust are created as a result of their use at all. This means that they are likely safer and likely less of a load on the environment, depending on how your electricity is produced. If you get your electricity from solar then you’re pretty much in the clear in this regard.

Other benefits of electric fireplaces include ease of installation and ease of use. When it comes to installation, there are indeed some more luxurious models that require a bit more advanced installation. You might need an electrician to help with the wiring and a contractor to help installing it into the wall. However, there are a ton of different styles to choose from, and you can get units that stand alone and also function as furniture that you can use for other purposes. This helpful page from BEFR goes over some electric fireplace units that fit snugly in the corner of your room.

When it comes to ease of use, you really can’t find more control than you get with an electric fireplace. Most models come with various heat settings, ranging from high to low to no heat at all. That’s right, you can even run the fireplace in the summer months without causing your home’s temperature to skyrocket. Some of the nicer models even have control over the color of the flames. While orange will reminisce of the traditional feeling of a fireplace, you can also get blue or purple flames to spice things up a bit.

Whichever style you choose, you can be sure that it will be an improvement over your traditional fireplace in terms of the impact on the environment and the atmosphere. Once upon a time in history, fire was something we as humans needed to survive. We’ve come a long way, and our technology has come with us. It’s time that we take advantage of it for the sake of our planet.

How Electricity Does and Does Not Prevent Pollution

March 3, 2019 Leave a comment Alternative Energy, Electric, Sustainable

Devices that run on electricity seem to produce less pollution to the environment. After all, there isn’t a smog of gas coming from an electrically powered vehicle. However, electricity must come from somewhere. This means that other resources need to be consumed in order to produce electricity. Power plants are the main sources around the world for producing electricity. However, power plants consume and burn up massive amounts of fossil fuel, coal, petroleum, and other natural resources to send out electricity. In this way, electric powered devices indirectly contribute to pollution, albeit, to a lesser extent than carbon-fueled devices. On a smaller scale, individual electric appliances do indeed cut down on pollution and are many times more energy efficient.

Thanks to advancements in technology, electricity has become a reliable way to power many machines. This extends from the industry to personal spaces. Many of our home appliances are powered by electricity. Take an electric pressure washer for example. The electric pressure washer generates a strong current to compress a fluid or gas in a short amount of time. The force that is generated from the washer wipes away grime and other stains. According to Catherine at TBEPW, an electric pressure washer may sometimes be more expensive than their conventional counterpart – and for good reason too.

The technology for electric powered devices is fairly new compared to devices that depend on mineral resources. Therefore, the methods by which electricity is harnessed is somewhat lagging behind. This may seem hard to believe, given all that has been accomplished through electrical resources. However, a technology that runs on natural minerals like coals and fossils have been used much longer than electricity. There are many ways to harness natural mineral energy. Not only that, but these methods tend to be simpler, and require less expensive facilities, thereby making natural mineral resources cheaper. Electricity, on the other hand, is much more dangerous and must be transmitted by the proper medium, conductive or insulating, depending on the need. 

Still, electrically powered devices do present a better alternative to burning coal, mostly because we have used less of it over the last century. The thing to consider is that electricity should be conserved because, like everything else on Earth, there is a limited supply. This means not leaving the lights on in the house or any other electric appliances that can be turned off. Not only will leaving on electric appliances result in an astronomical high electric bill, but it will have an effect on the environment as well. 

Electricity, as stated before, relies on other resources to be generated. The overconsumption of electricity will result in overconsumption of other natural resources. This will have a negative cascade on the environment. 

For one, the soil in the ground has a natural current that is necessary for all green life. This flow can be disrupted when nearby powerplants burn too many resources, which frequently happens as a result of major cities using too much electricity. 

Burning too many natural resources can lead to the production of acid rain. Acid rain is essentially the result of too many impurities like sulfur mix with the air. As the acid-air mixture rises to the sky, the clouds become heavy, so to speak. The particles are too heavy to remain very high in the atmosphere and therefore get deposited back to the ground as acid rain. This type of rain can cause massive amounts of property damage and other inconveniences. 

There are many things that can be done at an individual level to make sure that resources are conserved. Little things like turning off the Wi-Fi settings on our phones can help. This is because the surrounding networks don’t have to work as hard to provide signals. Buying high energy devices will ensure that little electricity is wasted. While society is moving towards electric powered technology, it’s best to start making good energy-saving habits now.