Green heating options
Forget the ineffecient fireplace and consider some of these eco-friendlier options
There’s nothing like an open fireplace for ambience. But if you want to keep toasty this winter, look elsewhere: A fireplace allows about 90 per cent of the heat to escape through the chimney. For greener heating, choose high-efficiency alternatives that use renewable fuels.
Pellet stoves burn peanut-sized nuggets made from waste products such as wood chips, sawdust, and nutshells. They produce less nitrous oxide and carbon monoxide than traditional woodstoves, and their com-bustion efficiency hovers around 80 per cent (compare that to 10 per cent for a fireplace). High-efficiency woodstoves and new masonry stoves provide a hotter, cleaner burn than their older counterparts. Made with soapstone, brick, slate, or clay, masonry heaters absorb the heat from the wood burned and radiate it into the room over several hours. These large stoves often come with optional inserts for heating water, cooking, or baking. Or you can retrofit your existing open fireplace with an insert, creating a much more efficient closed system, usually with a fan that blows the heat into the room.
Geothermal heating uses the difference in temper-ature below and above ground to keep a cottage comfy. In winter, the temperature just a few metres beneath the earth’s surface is warmer than the air. A typ-ical system uses closed, liquid-filled loops drilled into the earth, or immersed in a nearby lake, to absorb warmth. A heat-pump unit transfers the heat inside using a standard system such as air ducts or in-floor heating pipes. It works in reverse in summer, keeping the cottage comfortable when the air is hot and the earth cool
This article was originally published on November 5, 2008