Clara Kim and her husband are nearly finished planning their new custom home. Only a few details remain before they can seek construction bids. But one of the remaining loose ends has major energy implications.
“We are planning to have a wood fireplace on the ground floor, within the building envelope,” Clara writes in a Q&A post at Green Building Advisor. “When it is burning, it will likely [be] burned with any glass doors on the fireplace open, for aesthetic reasons. It is only going to be used as a heat source as an occasional backup.”
Her husband refuses to consider a more efficient gas or wood stove, nor does he take kindly to her suggestion the fireplace be moved to the patio outside. No, the fireplace is going to be inside and it will be used without glass doors that would minimize heat loss.
A generation ago, that might not have raised an eyebrow. What could be more natural than a fire on an open hearth? These days, however, the energy inefficiencies of fireplaces have turned them into the equivalents of chamber pots and single-pane windows.
Kim is still holding out hope that some means can be found to minimize the energy shortcomings of her husband’s plans. Or is that an uphill fight? That’s the topic for this Q&A Spotlight.
Sorry, they’re never a good idea
Dana Dorsett gets right to the point, summing up what looks like a common point of view: “An open-hearth fireplace (with or without glass doors) is an inefficient, extremely polluting way to burn wood that has no place in a ‘green’ house,” Dorsett writes. “They are even illegal to use in some locations due to the particulate emissions problem.”
Darryl in Winnipeg adds that “burning anything…
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