There isn't much that can rival a fireplace when it comes to creating ambiance in a room. There's something about the flickering flames that can really draw you in, and can set the tone for a romantic evening or for a quiet, relaxing night. However, a traditional fireplace isn't necessarily the most efficient way to heat a room, let alone a whole house. And a fireplace that isn't heating efficiently can burn a lot of wood without much real benefit. Luckily, there are more modern fireplace options that are both more efficient and more eco-friendly, and that will still create the same kind of ambiance. Check out some of green, custom fireplace options that you should consider for your home.
If you want the greenest and most modern in home fireplaces, a bioethanol fireplace is probably what you're looking for. Rather than wood, a bioethanol fireplace burns a liquid biofuel known as ethanol, which is a byproduct of fermented sugars in crops. The fuel is smokeless and odorless, which means that there's no need to install a chimney or other type of ventilation in your home in order to use the fireplace.
Since there's no need for ventilation, 100% of the heat produced by a bioethanol fireplace stays in the room where it's produced. This makes it a much more efficient form of heat than a traditional fireplace that only retains about 60% of the heat that it produces, with the remaining 40% going literally up in smoke, through the chimney. On top of all of that, bioethanol fireplaces are attractive. They fit in well in almost any setting, or with any type of décor, and they because they don't require any ventilation or connections to the home's gas lines, they can be moved and placed where ever they fit best.
Don't judge electric fireplaces by the one your grandparents bought when you were a kid. It's true that when these faux fireplaces first hit the market in the 1970s, they were almost universally tacky looking, but they've come a long way in the years since then.
Today's electric fireplaces are at least as attractive as a traditional fireplace. LED lights are commonly used to create realistic fiery effects without draining energy. They share many of the same benefits as bioethanol fireplaces – electric fireplaces produce no smoke, no odor, and require no ventilation, so you get warmth and great air quality without wasting any energy. They're also easy to use – most are equipped with programmable thermostats, so you can get whatever temperature you want.
A pellet stove is similar to a wood-burning stove, but much more efficient. The pellets that fuel the stoves are made from sawdust, wood shavings, and other waste compressed into small pellet form. The compression reduces the amount of moisture in the material, making it a cleaner burning fuel than it would be otherwise.
Pellet stoves do need to be ventilated, but unlike traditional fireplaces and wood burning stoves, a large chimney is not required. A small hole is usually enough. Pellet stoves come with an internal fan that helps move the air around the room so that you stay warm. The stoves are designed to be air tight, so the outside of the stove doesn't heat up too much. While some pellet stoves are utilitarian, they can also be very decorative. They're available in a variety of styles ranging from vintage to ultramodern, so it's just a matter of deciding what style of stove you want to curl up in front of on a winter night.
Of course, if you just can't give up your traditional masonry fireplace, you can always invest in a cast iron insert that will improve your fireplace's heat and energy efficiency significantly. No matter what your fireplace preference is, there's a way to make it more eco-friendly and ensure you're getting all of the heat you should.