Monday, December 03, 2012

Your Fireplace: Eco-Friendly (and Cheap!) Fires

A Chimney Sweep's Top 5 Tips for Eco-Friendly (and Cheap!) Fires
Chim-chiminy, chim-chiminy, chim-chim-charee, here's how to reduce the environmental impact of your fireplace. Wheee!

Dec. 3, 2012 - It's no secret that fireplaces and woodstoves—wonderful and cozy though they may be—are not great for the environment. The smoke that they produce is full of harmful particles, including, according to the EPA, volatile organic compounds and the likely carcinogen benzo(a)pyrene. Smoke can foul up the air both inside and out, and exposure to the stuff can cause serious respiratory problems.

So should you board up your hearth for good? Not necessarily. The right equipment can help, as can proper burning techniques.

To find out exactly how to make the most efficient fire possible, I enlisted the help of Clay Thompson, a working chimney sweep based in Sacramento, Calif. According to the Chimney Safety Institute of America, there are about 5,000 working chimney sweeps in the US. You may be as disappointed as I was to learn that Thompson, who has been sweeping six chimneys a day five days a week for 13 years, says that unlike that other notorious chimney sweep, Mary Poppins' boyfriend, he only sings in the car and never dances. Also, he uses brushes instead of, you know, climbing on in. "Most modern chimneys are only six inches wide," he says. "I don't know how Santa does it." Anyway, here are Thompson's tips: read more>>>

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