Tag Archives: EPA

Zone Heating

These days everywhere you go you hear the terms eco-friendly, green, energy-efficient, etc.  We all want to do our part to save the environment, and when it comes to heating your home “going green” also means putting more “green” back in your wallet.  It’s a win-win situation, and here’s one way of doing it – Zone Heating.  Zone heating is an excellent way to add a little more “green” to your home’s résumé, save some money on your heat bill, and once and for all end those family thermostat wars.  Allow me to explain….

The majority of homes in America use a forced air central heating system.  Now, regardless of the type (gas, propane, oil, electric, and so on) they all distribute air through a series of ductwork.  These ducts may be made of sheet metal or plastic flex and can be insulated or un-insulated. Some common disadvantages of this framework are leaky ducts, uneven heat distribution, and wasted energy going to ductwork in attics and crawl spaces.

An advantage of forced air central heating is that it efficiently works via a thermostat, but while I might favor a comfortable 68 degrees my significant other might continually (and quite subtly) raise it to a tropical 76.  Another major advantage of this system is that it quickly heats up the entire house.  However, I’m guessing you probably don’t spend the majority of your time in the laundry room, bathroom, or spare bedroom(s). So, why are you spending money heating those areas?

Zone heating offers a practical solution to these dilemmas by only heating the rooms in which you live.  This strategy may easily save you 30% or more on your energy bill as a result of the overall decrease in your fuel consumption.

You have many, many options for which type of hearth product to install, including fireplaces, freestanding stoves, or fireplace inserts that may burn a variety of fuels, such as firewood, pellets, corn, natural gas, or propane.  Lopi makes almost 40 different models to choose from, which can be overwhelming to say the least.  All of our wood and pellet models are energy-efficient and qualify for the $1,500 Tax Credit towards biomass burning appliances.  (Just a side note; this tax credit is only good for purchases made through December 31st, 2010, so if you’re considering a wood or pellet stove act fast.)  Our GreenSmart gas models are efficient, self-adapting, and offer an adjustable turn down rate to provide you with your ideal comfort zone. (Please read the article on GreenSmart to learn more…we’re quite proud of this technology.)  Some models also have optional heat ducts so you can vent heat into adjoining rooms.  Lopi’s electric fireplaces make a quick,  easy, and beautiful addition to any room requiring a low BTU space heater, and they make a great holiday gift…hint, hint.

A Lopi specialty retailer can guide you through the process of determining which product is right for you.  Be prepared to answer these questions:

  • What is the square footage of the zone you wish to heat?
  • What fuels are readily available in your area?
  • What is your design style?
  • What type of central heat do you have?
  • What is the age and construction of your house?
  • Is there available space to install a freestanding stove?

Just think, soon you could be sitting around the kitchen table on a chilly winter’s eve enjoying dinner by the warmth of your new gas (or wood or pellet) stove, and all the while your mind is at ease because you know your home is more efficient and that next heat bill is going to be a few dollars less.  And let’s be honest, you don’t miss the sound of that pesky furnace cycling on and off either.  Visit www.LopiStoves.com to find your local Zone Heating expert.

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Wood Fireplace Insert…a solution to your open masonry fireplace.

Are you considering having an open masonry fireplace built in your home? STOP! WAIT! Do some research or talk to someone about their love-hate (mostly hate) relationship with their open fireplace. (This article also applies to you…frustrated open fireplace owners.)  We’ve heard the complaints. The builders, contractors, and masons have heard the complaints. Don’t despair; we also have the solution.

A couple hundred years ago a traditional masonry fireplace was state-of-the-art design; function and beauty wrapped up in a neat little array of bricks and mortar. Today’s energy efficient homes are tightly constructed, well insulated around windows and doors, and have the latest in advanced heating equipment. Yet, the past is alluring, and many homeowners make the mistake of installing an open-hearth fireplace smack dab in the middle of tens of thousands of dollars worth of 21st century technology. Seems like a conflict of interest, right? They quickly discover that their quaint and traditional open fireplace is inefficient, filthy, smoky, requires an inconvenient amount of wood for the small amount of heat output, stinks, blows cold air into their house, and sets off the smoke alarm. Then they wonder why.

Air wants to flow to zones of lower pressure.

Most homes built today have the fireplace against an exterior wall on the ground floor.  Whether or not the chase is insulated in this position it’s likely that the outside cold air will decrease the temperature of the flue. Meanwhile, the air inside the house, which is warmer than the outside air, rises. So, the air pressure high in the house is slightly positive, which leaves the pressure on the ground floor slightly negative. When the temperature of the flue falls below the temperature of the bottom floor that cold air will get sucked into the home.

Modern homes also come equipped with powerful exhaust fans such as dryer vents, kitchen ranges, and negative pressure ventilation systems.  These fans will quickly depressurize a house…again causing air to flow down the chimney into the home.

Even the simple physics of operating an open fireplace in a home today just don’t add up.  Today’s homes can’t tolerate more than 200 cubic feet per minute (cfm) of expelled air without becoming depressurized.  An open-hearth fireplace will easily consume 200 – 600 cfm depending on the size of the fire.  So, here again, we have a positive outside air pressure combating a negative pressure home.

In all these examples we see what is called “back-drafting.”  The house is acting as a better chimney than the chimney itself.  It explains why there’s cold air emanating from the fireplace and why you get a face full of smoke when you go to light it.   Combustion also produces toxic gases such as carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide and methane.  You know where I’m going with this, right?   When your open fireplace is back drafting those toxic gases are being pumped right into your living space.  Excuse the sarcasm, but that’s probably not the healthiest stuff to be breathing in.

There are options though. Many wood fireplaces and inserts can be installed to look like a traditional masonry fireplace. Lopi manufactures highly efficient, EPA certified models. You don’t have to sacrifice design for functionality or vice versa. Our units have aesthetic appeal while delivering an impressive heat output to your home.  The Freedom Insert shown in the photo below is the most efficient large insert on the market.  You can choose between a flush mount installation or extend it on to the hearth to take advantage of the cooktop surface.  The unit features a built-in convection chamber that circulates and distributes warm air throughout your home, and a bypass damper for smokeless startup and reloading.  Click on the photo to review Lopi’s entire line-up of energy efficient wood inserts.

Your 21st century home deserves a 21st century fireplace. Do the research. Choose the wood fireplace or insert that’s right for you and make sure to have it installed by a certified specialty hearth retailer.  Visit www.lopistoves.com to find a dealer near you and to learn more about our wood fireplaces.

To learn more about heating with wood go to www.woodheat.org.

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