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.

Four Environmental Benefits of Electric Heat

February 26, 2018 Leave a comment Alternative Energy, Electric, Sustainable

Throughout the year, every home and business requires heat in order to ensure the comfort of inhabitants. With an emphasis on protecting and caring for the environment, it is important to acknowledge the impact of energy usage in all that we do. When it comes to heating, there are a variety of possible options to consider. Presented here are four reasons why electric heating is the most environmentally responsible decision.

First, electric heating has often been considered expensive, but this is entirely untrue. In fact, electric heating is better for the consumer and the environment in several ways. First, electric heat is convenient and cost-effective because it is provided through heat pumps. These versatile machines are used not only for heating but for cooling as well, which eliminates the need for other devices and reduces equipment costs.

Second, electric heating does not pollute the environment. Other heating sources such as gas, coal, or wood-burning cause pollution both inside the home and out. Smoke and fumes from other types of heat sources can be damaging to the interior and exterior of the home or business. Chimneys and ventilation systems can become backed up and cause blockages or even fire, but these are not necessary for electric heating. In fact, there are plenty of options for electric garage heaters with thermostats that require little to no maintenance at all. Electric heating is environmentally friendly because it does not create emissions and leaves the inside and surrounding outdoor air clear. Electric heating does not produce dangerous carbon monoxide, and leaves no build-up of debris like other heating sources.

Third, there is no additional usage of environmental resources. Electric heating does not require a burden to get coal, wood or gas delivered or cut for the home. No gasoline or vehicles are needed to get electric heat from one place to another – it is already pre-wired in existing buildings or can be plugged in for an additional supplement. This eliminates environmental waste and resources needed for delivery, cutting or even mining. It is accessible for people with all types of ability levels since no active process is required to heat your home or work. This makes electric heating safer for many groups of people who may have difficulty with movement, adjusting or operating a pilot light, or lifting heavy loads of wood or coal. With electric heat, all you need to do is simply flip the switch or adjust the thermostat!

A fourth reason electric heating is better for the environment is that it is not wasteful. The efficiency of electric heating is not shared by any other heat source or process. All the energy that is put into making electric heat returns directly as output. There is no heat wasted or over-produced because electric heating is regulated by thermostats which monitor temperature. These thermostats are effective at controlling the amount of heat created and are helpful for ensuring a space is kept at a comfortable temperature.

The Top Electric Cars on the Market

January 7, 2018 Leave a comment Alternative Energy, Electric, Transportation

Electric vehicles are more popular today than ever. There are a variety of reasons that consumers are in the market for electric vehicles which include, but are not limited to: sustainability factors, cost of fuel and lifetime of vehicle. The following in no particular order, is a list of the top 5 electric vehicles on the market today:

  • Tesla Model S
  • Chevy Volt
  • Nissan Leaf
  • BMW i3
  • Tesla Model X

Tesla Model S

The starting price for the base model of the Tesla Model S is $68,000. The most basic version of this car can travel up to 210 miles on one charge but if you are willing to pay for upgrades the Model S can travel an impressive 315 miles on a single charge. To almost eliminate your fuel cost, Tesla offers free charging at any of it’s available superchargers. Locations in this supercharger network can be found on their website or can be searched within the vehicle itself.

Chevy Volt

The starting price for the base model of the Chevy Volt is $33,220. This is a hybrid car that runs on gasoline one the battery loses charge but on battery alone this vehicle can travel 53 miles.

Nissan Leaf

The starting price for the base model of the Nissan Leaf is $29,990. This all electric vehicle is rated to travel up to 150 miles on a single charge and is the cheapest vehicle on this list.

BMW i3

The starting price for the base model of the BMW i3 is $44,450. The base model of the i3 can travel around 83 miles on a single charge while upgrades in the vehicle can extend this range to upwards of 97 miles without having to recharge.

Tesla Model X

The starting price for the base model of the Tesla Model X is $79,500. The base model can travel up to 237 miles on a single charge but with upgrades the Model X can travel upwards of 289 miles on a single charge. Similar to the Model S, the Model X can be charged for free at any of the charging stations offered in the Tesla Supercharger network.

If you’re in the market for one of these electric vehicles then you are in luck. The tax overhaul recently passed by congress has kept the $7,500 federal tax incentive for electric car owners. Many thought that this incentive would be taken away in the tax bill but in the end it made the final cut. The age of electric vehicles is just beginning which means that the list above will only grow with time.