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Build an eco-friendly fire In the dead of winter nothing sounds better than curling up with the family next to a freshly lit fire, but when it comes to energy conservation and fume exposure, it’s not exactly eco. So what’s a KIWI mom to do? Try out these tips to make your hearth a little greener, from John Crouch, director of public affairs at the nonprofit Hearth, Patio and Barbecue Association.

  • Choose the right kind of wood. Burning wet wood can waste lots of energy, since the water contained within the logs will boil as they burn, releasing steam—which actually lessens the strength of the fire. Prevent it by buying wood that’s seasoned (a special process that ensures the moisture content of the wood is below 30 percent) and has an even color, without any green. If you store your wood outside, be sure to keep it a foot off the ground, with the top covered with a tarp but the sides open so air can circulate.
  • Install glass doors. All fireplaces have vents that can be closed when the hearth isn’t in use—but there can still be drafts from the chimney. To avoid a higher heating bill, try adding glass doors to the front of your fireplace. They’re easy to install and come in a variety of options for different budgets.
  • Opt for regular maintenance. The most important thing you can do to ensure a safe fireplace is to make sure it’s exhausting properly, with smoke going up and out of the chimney. Crouch recommends making an appointment with a certified chimney sweep who can make sure everything is functioning as it should be. To find one, visit the Chimney Safety Institute of America at csia.org.
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