It is sad but true that the days of curling up in front of a wood fire on a chilly night may be coming to an end. More and more states are banning wood fires on specific days, citing public health concern. In the Los Angeles Basin alone, fireplaces are used in about 1.4 million of the 5 million households, producing on average 6 tons a day of particulate soot in the air basin. About 106 tons of fine particulate soot is emitted every day in the greater Los Angeles area. You can only imagine what the numbers are for the entire planet!
Numerous studies have linked fine particulate matter, which sinks deep into the lungs, to increased lung and respiratory problems. An estimated 5,000 premature deaths in the Los Angeles basin alone are linked to fine particulate exposure.
As a result wood burning fireplaces will be banned for all new homes and remodels in the L.A. basin. Many states in the U.S. already have regulations banning or limiting the use of wood fires.
In this sixth article of my series on the Green Home, I continue my conversation with Diana Zamudio, Owner and Founder of eco-6 design as we discuss eco-friendly fireplaces. Diana is a specialist in Green Design as well as Feng Shui and is the teacher for the Green Design Program at my West Coast Feng Shui Academy.
Q. I asked Diana what kinds of fireplaces she feel are the most eco-friendly?
A. After much research I found a wonderful company called Eco Smart. They have the most eco-friendly fireplaces and fire burners on the market today. Their fireplaces are run on Bio-Ethanol.
Q. What exactly is Bio-Ethanol?
A. Bio-Ethanol, or simply ethanol, is absolute alcohol. It is also called Methylated Spirits. It is a renewable energy source made by fermenting the sugar and starch components of plant by-products – mainly sugarcane and crops like grain, using yeast. It is also made from corn, potatoes, milk, rice, beetroot and recently grapes, banana and dates depending on the countries agricultural strength. Bio-Ethanol used to be controversial because it was made primarily from corn, but it has changed significantly and is now made from a variety of plant products.
Today, bio-Ethanol has many uses: It is blended with petrol to make a truly sustainable transport fuel, it’s used in cosmetic and other manufacturing processes, and it creates the clean burning, beautiful dancing flame in these beautiful fireplaces.
Bio-Ethanol is completely composed of biological products. The combustion of bio ethanol results in a clean emission: Heat, Steam and Carbon Dioxide. Carbon dioxide is absorbed by plants. It is then processed via photosynthesis to help the plant grow. This infinite cycle of creation and combustion of energy makes bio ethanol a carbon neutral fuel source.
Bio-Ethanol is classified as a Flammable Liquid Class 1B (for Flammability) and Class 3 PGII (for Transportation) and is regulated by various standards around the world.
Q. Tell me more about the fireplaces.
A. The wonderful thing about these fireplaces is that you can put them anywhere, they are completely free-standing with no hookups required. There is no wood to burn, no gas to plumb, or permits to pull and no flue is needed. They can be used as a room-divider and/or can be carried from room to room. You can insert the gas burning units into a regular fireplace and enjoy an old fashioned fire. They are portable so you bring them out into the garden and enjoy a fire at night under the stars. They incredibly versatile, and clean burning and emit no smells, like kerosine or gas. You don’t even need special room ventilation. What might have been a cold and very un-cozy room can be transformed into a warm and inviting space by adding one of these fireplaces.
Q. Where do we purchase Bio Ethanol and how long does it burn for?
A. You can purchase Bio Ethanol in standard packaging of 1, 2, 4 and 20 litres from Supermarkets, Hardware Stores, Petrol Stations, and Corner Shops. Contact the Fire Company for more information and ask about our fuel supply service in your area. In general 5 Litres OR 11/4 Gal of Bi Ethanol would last from 7 hours on MAX and up to 20 hours on MIN setting.
Q. Is Bio-Ethanol environmentally friendly?
A. Bio Ethanol is classed as being easily biodegradable; miscible in water and when it burns the residual emission is carbon dioxide and water steam. It is completely composed of biological products resulting in a neutral ecological balance. Some fuels are better than others, it’s important to source information on the best fuel in your area and your local retailer/distributor.
Q. How much does it cost to run?
A.The cost of 1 litre of Bio-Ethanol varies depending on place and quantity of purchase. On average you look at AU $2.50 per litre so if you are running your fire on medium and on 2 litres, this is a cost equivalent to having a couple of cappuccinos each evening!
Q.What are the emissions when burning Bio Ethanol?
A.The result of combustion of Bio-Ethanol is water, steam and carbon dioxide. The ratio of CO/CO2 passes standards for flue less gas fireplaces and the amount of Carbon Monoxide is negligible.
Q.How do you store Bio-Ethanol?
A. Bio-Ethanol is classified as a Flammable Liquid Class 3, PG II and is regulated by various standards around the world. You must familiarize yourself and comply with these regulations in order to safely and legally store, handle, decant and use this fuel.
Q. Does Bio-Ethanol smell?
A.There is no smell while the EcoSmart Fire is burning. There is a slight smell once the flame is extinguished similar to when you blow out a candle. The smell will soon dissipate into the air.
Q. What do they cost?
A. They range from $600 for a single burner to up to $16,000 for commercial designs with multiple burners. You can get grates specifically designed for inserting them into traditional existing fireplaces or purchase their fireplace inserts. Many wonderful designs are available which you can find on the ecosmart web site.
Special offer for Care2 readers. Diana is offering a 10% discount to all Care2 readers on Eco Smart Fireplaces and/or burners through her store Eco6design. Just mention you are a Care2 member upon ordering from Eco6design and you will receive your 10% discount…..Thank You Diana!!! Click here to contact Diana
Note. The writer of this article has no financial connection or affiliation to the products discussed in these articles.
More articles on this Green Home Remodel series by Erica Sofrina can be found by clicking on : eco-friendly wall finishes, eco-friendly floorings, eco-friendly counter tops, and eco-friendly window coverings, along with an overview of a Green Home Remodel.
Enjoy your Green Home!