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Eco-Friendly Electric Fireplaces

Updated on October 15, 2010

Societies and individuals are becoming more aware of the ecological impact human actions are having on our environment. In fact, more people are moving toward more environmentally friendly choices whenever it is possible. One method for making your home more ecologically and energy efficient is by including an electric fireplace insert as a supplemental heating source in your home. While the electricity that drives this technology does release carbon dioxide when it is produced, the amount released pales in comparison to the carbon footprint left by a traditional fire.

An easy way to understand this is by examining the effects of a decomposing tree branch. When a tree branch falls to the ground, it decays and releases the same amount of carbon as if it were burnt. However, burning releases carbon into the atmosphere at a faster rate than the natural decaying process does which in turn does not allow for soil and plants to absorb the extra carbon in a timely fashion. With nowhere else to go, the extra carbon moves into the atmosphere. This carbon then becomes part of the air pollution that is destroying habitats with poor air quality. It also and punctures holes in our atmosphere, which protects life on Earth by absorbing ultraviolet solar radiation, warming the Earth’s surface through heat retention, and by reducing extremes between day and night time temperatures.

Overall, an electric fireplace insert uses less energy and materials than traditional wood burning and gas fireplaces, which in turn leaves a smaller carbon footprint and allows people to enjoy the experience of a fire without the associated environmental hazards of a traditional fireplace. One of the most notable things about and electric firebox is its realistic flame effect that resembles the appearance of a real fire without any actual burning taking place. An electric fireplace insert uses 90 percent less energy than a gas fireplace to produce similar visual effects. Simply plug the electrical unit into a standard 110/120 volt electrical outlet and watch as your fire quickly dances to life. Because no actual combustion takes place, no unnatural greenhouse gases are released into the atmosphere as a direct result of the fire.

Another component of an electric fireplace insert is that, in opposition to its wood and gas fireplace counterparts, it is energy efficient. Wood and gas fireplaces are much less energy efficient options. Up to 50 percent of their heat energy is lost to the atmosphere while an electric fireplace converts 100 percent of its energy input into heat with no energy being lost along the way. Not only does an electric fireplace use less energy to operate but it also converts all of its energy into heat, which makes a fireplace that runs on electricity the most ecologically sound fireplace option.

Zero Emissions Is Good For Environmental Sustainability

While wood burning fireplaces provide warmth and comfort, they also create a mess in the form of ash and storage of wood logs and starter chips while also creating fire hazards and air pollution. Air pollution is the introduction of chemicals such as carbon dioxide, particle matter such as ash, and/or biological materials that cause harm or discomfort to all living organisms into the natural environment and our Earth’s atmosphere. The atmosphere is a complex natural gaseous system that is essential to support life on Earth and the stratospheric ozone depletion due to air pollution has long been recognized as a threat to all of the Earth’s ecosystems.

An electric fireplace insert, as opposed to a wood burning fireplace, is an excellent supplemental heat source that does not add to Earth’s air pollution problems. Not only are you able to eliminate air pollution and the risk of a household fire, you are still able to enjoy a warm, cozy home with the same aesthetically pleasing ambiance of a fire. Instead of adding to the depletion of our already endangered forests and ozone layer, an electric fireplace is highly efficient and produces zero emissions.

You might ask how this is accomplished and the answer is modern technology. Modern flame technology allows individuals to enjoy the look and feel of a real fire without the associated problems. An electric fireplace log insert set creates the look of a real wood fire with a realistic flame image, hand finished resin logs, and a glowing bed of embers. This electric firebox provides the ambiance and warmth of a real fire without risking a house fire, lugging firewood and bugs into your home, or having to clean out the hearth. It provides the best of both worlds at substantial savings.

Environmentally Friendly In More Ways Than One

Modern technology not only creates a realistic flame image, resin log set, or pulsing bed of embers for an electric fireplace; it also makes use of current developments such as LED (light-emitting diodes) technology to create realistic flame effects. Regular incandescent light bulbs must be replaced every 2,000 hours or so while LED’s have a life span of over 75,000 hours. Furthermore, incandescent bulbs require 120 watts of electrical power, while the LED’s used to power the electric flame only in an electric fireplace insert draws on only 11.2 watts of power.

Another environmental and economic aspect of an electric fireplace insert is its ability to provide zone heating to your home. A central heating system distributes heated air through ducts to various areas of a home with the furnace coming on as many as 3 to 4 times per hour. During colder weather, furnace on times can be relatively short with the burners shutting down before peak efficiency is reached. This results in reduced efficiency through cycling losses which is much like a car’s engine in stop and go traffic; you aren’t moving forward but you are using fuel. Not only is your furnace wasting energy through cycling losses, a central heater can also make room comfort levels fluctuate from warm to cold in a short period of time. This can make it necessary to overheat portions of a home just to have it comfortable in the rooms you are actually using. Zone heating with an electric fireplace can end this costly cycle by providing supplementary heat only where it is needed and when it is needed.

There are other benefits as well, especially for individuals with upper respiratory problems such as allergies, asthma, and/or common colds and the flu. Some electric fireplace brands are currently offering air purification systems that are part of the electric fireplace. Not only does an electric fireplace insert not produce any environmentally harmful emissions, it also promotes a safe, healthy indoor ecosystem.  While an electric fireplace insert creates no airborne particles and does not produce moisture, a contributing factor for the development of harmful mold in households, it can purify the air in your home for individuals with allergies and/or people suffering from the common cold and flu.

Ecological, Economical, And Aesthetically Pleasing All In One Package

An electric fireplace insert is not only environmentally friendly, it is economical as well. Consider the costs and challenges of operating a wood fireplace. Wood prices vary depending upon supply and demand. A cord of wood may cost as much as $300.00. Storing and moving wood is a challenge when you consider the space required, the mess and the effort. Maintaining a safe chimney can also be costly because they require regular cleaning and inspection by professional chimney sweeps.

Gas fireplaces, on the other hand, are more convenient than their wood counterparts and have been preferred by environmentally conscious individuals as well. They do, however,  require seasonal pilot lighting and venting maintenance to insure they are safe to use. Gas fireplaces operate at a cost of 17-24 cents per hour depending upon local gas rates. However, an electric fireplace insert provides realistic looking flame technology for about 3 cents per hour without heat and between 8 and 12 cents per hour with the heat turned on.

An electric firebox is 100 percent energy efficient, does not burn fossil fuels, and does not require venting. Because of these features, an electric fireplace insert doesn’t produce deadly carbon dioxide or use gas that might leak. These units are cost effective and many of the newer models come with air purifier systems. Added to these benefits is the aesthetically pleasing quality that an electric fireplace brings into your home. It provides happily dancing flames with realistic looking logs and a compelling bed of glowing embers that offers the visual excitement of realistic looking flames along with the soothing quality associated with radiant cinders.

Furthermore, people are able to enjoy a fire without the side effects of a gas or wood burning fireplace. There isn’t any indoor or outdoor pollution, which means that asthma sufferers and people with allergies can benefit from having one, and each unit can be used with the heating element turned on or off which means an electric fireplace insert can be utilized all year long.

Questions? Comments?

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    • profile image

      Jamie 

      8 years ago

      What a cool idea! I have a regular fireplace and I don't use it as much as I would like to because its such a mess. Its right in the center wall of my living room, which makes it a great focal point, but I now also have some black ash marks on my beige carpet - which is not so great of a focal point. It's amazing how realistic the flames look... love it!

    • profile image

      Brad L. 

      8 years ago

      After reading this, I think an electric fireplace insert would work well in my seasonal TN home. I didn't realize how environmentally friendly they were, either. Thanks for this information!

    • profile image

      Mary 

      8 years ago

      I suffer from severe allergies and I dread the day I have to turn on my furnace because the hot air blows all those allergens back into my home. I never would have thought about replacing my furnace with an electric fireplace, but I'm definitely looking into it now. Thanks!

    • profile image

      Audrey 

      8 years ago

      Wow, I had never heard of an electric fireplace! This is a great product and I will definitely look into it for my future home. Thanks for the great hub!

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