Home-Heating Guide (cont.)

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The Travis Industries concept was so well-received in the industry that CSA Group, which is a standards organization, is considering revising the safety-barrier standard to account for delayed-ignition events. Discussions are in the preliminary stages, and it would take at least 2–4 years before proposed revisions were announced, HPBA says. We wanted to ask CSA Group what parameters were being considered and how much that such a barrier would cost, but the group didn’t respond as of press time.

Travis Industries also is the only manufacturer that we found that developed an air-cooled safety barrier for ultrawide custom linear fireplaces. In the company’s DaVinci line (starting at $6,900), the firebox’s glass front sits 4–6 inches behind another glass panel that’s one-quarter to three-eighths of an inch thick. Between the two glass panels, a layer of air that’s brought in by a vent from outside of the home cools the barrier, the company says. Experts tell us that the DaVinci works and that we can expect to see more air-cooled indoor fireplaces in the next 2 years.

SLOW BURNERS. In 2013, Environmental Protection Agency planned to propose mandatory emissions standards for residential wood-burning heaters, including fireplaces. Those standards now are in place, but the agency didn’t include wood-burning fireplaces.

Enesta Jones of EPA tells us that the organization decided not to include wood-burning fireplaces, because wood-burning models “generally are not effective heaters.” Naturally, HPBA was pleased with EPA’s decision.

“We knew from surveys that most people don’t use their wood-burning fireplace very often,” says John Crouch of HPBA. “If you look at the cost-effectiveness of emissions-control technology on an appliance that is used a couple times a year, it costs a couple hundred dollars to remove a small amount of particulates.”

EPA has only its voluntary program that “qualifies” wood-burning fireplaces that emit no more than 5.1 grams of particulate matter per kilogram of wood that’s burned. EPA says qualified fireplaces emit 70 percent less pollution than do unqualified models.

To participate in the program, manufacturers must submit their fireplaces to testing by an independent third-party laboratory. Not many do. EPA says that as of press time, 25 fireplaces from 10 manufacturers qualified as meeting the voluntary standards, compared with 23 fireplaces from eight manufacturers in 2013. These models start at $750, compared with $700 before.

It’s beneficial to be qualified, Crouch says, because certain areas of the country allow only qualified fireplaces.

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