Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Green Controversy: Wood Stoves

If a wood stove burns dirtier than gas or oil, can it be a green source of heat?

It is true that wood burning stoves produce more fine particle emissions than gas or oil, but depending on your circumstances, they can be a green option. They are not suitable for urban areas for all kinds of reasons beyond concentrated emissions.  However, if you live on a rural lot and have access to naturally felled wood that you can use to fuel your stove, this can be a great choice. Other important considerations include the availability of storage space to keep your wood dry, as well as any transportation costs associated with bringing volumes of wood to you. If you have to move heavy logs far and wide, it may not be the greenest choice.

There are two types of wood stoves: catalytic and non catalytic. A non catalytic stove is cheaper, but offers fewer advantages. The catalytic version takes less wood because it burns more slowly. The slower burn also means less smoke emission, and--perhaps most critically to the homeowners--can burn overnight without needing to be reloaded.

Choose the right stove for your needs, if this turns out to be a reasonable source of winter heat for your household. Size will be related not just to the volume of your home, but also to it's efficiency in terms of insulation and window and door seals.

Most important of all, winter is coming. Stay toasty warm!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Hardware Store Cleaning Hacks

Who doesn't love using something you already have hanging around to tackle a job quickly and thoroughly? I noticed that a number of the things you might find in a hardware store can be put to good use for home cleaning and maintenance--especially a few of the big, aggravating chores.

Here are a few that seemed worth hanging onto.

  • A plumber's snake to clear out your downspouts
  • A paint roller wrapped in a dryer sheet with the long arm extension will dust your fan blades
  • Goo Gone gets hardened sap off of vinyl siding
  • A length of plastic pipe taped to your vacuum hose to reach tall cobwebs in the corner (or alternatively, and probably easier, a wrapping paper roll)
  • A cordless drill and buffing wheel or specially designed brush head for cleaning showers
  • A plastic putty knife for soap scum removal

Family Handyman is an especially good resource for these not-so-routine jobs.