Everybody loves a roaring fire. Everybody, that is, except your cardiologist and your banker! Here are the facts on open fireplaces, courtesy of The Environmental Protection Agency:
- They’re wasteful. James Houck is an engineer with 25 years of experience studying combustion-based heat. He says that in a fireplace, 93% of the heat goes up the chimney. Roughly $100 worth of firewood generates the same amount of heat as $20 worth of other fuels.
- Burning wood pollutes inside AND outside. Joellen Lewtas is a professor of environmental health at The University of Washington. He says that burning a cord of wood puts as many cancer causing particles into the air as driving a car 70,000 miles. Several different studies show that the small particles in wood smoke lodge deep in the lungs. That makes breathing less efficient and puts strain on your heart.
If you’re someone who thinks a living room isn’t a living room without a fireplace, your best bet is getting a gas insert. Compared to wood, gas reduces pollutants by 2,000%. Dollar for dollar, it produces three times the heat.