Sustainable heating solutions
Winter is on the way and with it, the dream of being at home, all cosied up in front of the fire. But in the current climate, with the energy crisis ongoing and people trying to make more eco-conscious choices, it can be tricky knowing the best way to fulfil your cosy aspirations.
We have been exploring the best options when it comes to stylish eco-friendly fires, and what we can recommend to our clients to create the atmosphere they’re looking for in a more sustainable way.
Gas vs electric fires
The obvious choice for an eco-friendly alternative is, of course, the electric fire. We spoke to John from Fireplace Superstore in Cheadle, who told us that electric fires are by far the most efficient, with almost 100% of energy being turned into heat – compared with gas or log burners that, even at their best, are around 80% efficient.
Traditional fires lose a lot of the heat they produce straight up the chimney, which as John put it: ‘Great for the birds on the chimney pot but not so great for your gas bill.’ It is also difficult to control the heat output of traditional fires which means they will burn through fuel quickly, as opposed to electric fires that can be very easily controlled.
Don’t have a chimney?
John noted that there has been a huge shift in recent years away from gas fires, with gas prices being volatile and customers looking for more efficient alternatives. The majority of new-build houses no longer have chimneys, with many not even having a mains gas supply, so there is a greater market for fireplace options that don’t require a chimney or other ventilation.
For the most part, people no longer need fires for the purposes of heat but instead for the aesthetics and atmosphere. Media walls, for example, with an inset letterbox fire and recessed TV have been overwhelmingly popular and a very easy look to achieve.
So electric is a great option for your interior design project, but not the only one. While they are very efficient and you can get some relatively convincing fires, those faux flames can never truly replicate the feeling of a real fire and can sometimes look cheap. With this in mind, we kept investigating to find an option that is both eco-friendly and produces real fire.
This brings us to bioethanol fires, the eco-friendly alternative that uses ethanol – a biodegradable, low toxicity alcohol made by microbial fermentation, as a fuel instead of wood or gas. We’ve put together some of the benefits of bioethanol fires below.
Bioethanol only creates water vapour when burned, with only a tiny bit of CO2. They can be installed pretty much anywhere you want as they don’t produce any smoke or smells that would require ventilation, this means they are great for new-builds or retrofitting in older properties.
Wood burning stoves certainly have their charms but boy, can they make a mess! The upkeep of traditional wood burning fires can be a lot of work, whereas bioethanol fires require very little cleaning or upkeep besides refuelling.
Easy to Install and Use
Many bioethanol fires are really easy to install, with some taking a matter of minutes to set up. Some can even be linked to your smartphone to easily control the flame and heat output.
Bioethanol fires don’t require a gas connection and a lot of them do not require an electricity connection either! Some will have smart features that require an electrical supply to link to a remote or smartphone, but this is not essential. You can even get portable tabletop ones to take outside on those cool summer nights.
Like electric fires, they do not require ventilation, so all the heat produced is circulated into the room and not up the chimney.
Unlike electric fireplaces, bioethanol fires create a real flame. They cost a little more to run than electric as they do use fuel, however ethanol is reasonably priced and we think the extra cost is worth it for the real deal.
Because of their versatility, you can get all kinds of styles of bioethanol fires. Below we have included some examples of styles we love, with something for everyone. Photo’s sourced from Planika fires.
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