The Government of Canada recently released its 2030 Emissions Reduction Plan, to outline the ways in which Canada will reduce our greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions to 40 to 45% below 2005 levels by 2030. These actions will also put Canada on the way to having net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. According to the plan document, “Canada’s average temperatures are rising at twice the global average, and three times in the North. Polluting less and taking steps to remove excess carbon from the air will be one of the most important undertakings in Canada’s history.”
The 2030 Emissions Reduction Plan shares some pretty interesting statistics about the sources of carbon emissions in Canada. In fact, as of 2019, buildings were responsible for 12% of Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions (17% if you include off-site electricity generation.) According to the plan document, “Over 85% of buildings sector emissions come from space and water heating, due to the use of fossil fuel equipment, such as natural gas furnaces, and extra energy demand to heat and cool buildings with insufficient envelope performance.”
How can an electric fireplace reduce my greenhouse gas and carbon emissions at home?
There are 2 ways to reduce GHG emissions at home: rely less on fossil fuels to power your heating and cooling systems; and reduce the amount of heating and cooling you need by improving your building envelope.
Your building ‘envelope’ is the exterior, including insulation, as well as windows and doors. So, upgrading those for better energy efficiency will reduce your use of heating and cooling, which will reduce your home’s greenhouse gas emissions.
Change your wood-burning fireplace to electric: If you have a wood-burning fireplace, your chimney is creating a gaping hole in your home’s ‘envelope’. Changing to an electric fireplace, and blocking the chimney, will greatly improve your home’s overall efficiency, as well. And of course, not burning wood in your fireplace will eliminate another source of carbon emissions from your home. In fact, in several jurisdictions in Canada, wood-burning fireplaces have been banned, due to the pollution they cause for that area.
Change your gas fireplace to electric: Similar to a wood-burning fireplace, a gas fireplace affects your home’s efficiency and contributes to greenhouse gases in 2 ways. First, it burns fossil fuel, so it emits carbon and greenhouse gases into the environment. Second, it also requires a vent to the outside, thus breaching the ‘envelope’, and allowing hot and cold air to pass in and out. This makes your home less efficient, and will increase your use of fossil fuels for heating and cooling. Replacing your gas fireplace with an electric fireplace will allow you to block the vent, thus improving efficiency. An electric fireplace doesn’t burn fossil fuels, and therefore has zero carbon or greenhouse gas emissions.
Use your electric fireplace for zone heating: You can reduce your use of fossil fuels in your gas or oil furnace, by using your electric fireplace to take the chill off well-used rooms. Because electric fireplaces have just the right amount of heat for most rooms, you can use one to heat up just the area you are using. This is great in those rooms that are cooler than the rest of the house, because you can use the furnace to keep the other rooms comfortable, while using the electric fireplace to top up the heat in the cooler space. Or, you can keep the furnace at a low level for rooms that aren’t being used, while using the electric fireplace where you want heat.
Get an electric fireplace for ambience: If you want to add a fireplace to your home for ambience only, then electric is the way to go. With an electric fireplace, you can have flames without heat, which uses very little electricity, and zero fossil fuels. It’s impossible to turn on a gas fireplace without getting at least a little heat, so you are always using fossil fuels, and thus producing greenhouse gases, every time you turn on the a gas fireplace.
What about the greenhouse gas emissions created to produce electricity?
According to the 2030 Emissions Reduction Plan, “Canada is a world leader in clean electricity with an electricity sector that is currently 82% non-emitting. Canada’s electricity sector emissions have also declined more than any other sector in Canada since 2005.” To address the other 18% of electricity production, the Government of Canada is developing a Clean Electricity Standard. Many other countries are also working on ways to produce clean, green electricity, which will be needed to replace carbon-based energy sources. This isn’t something you can control, but rest assured that work is already underway to ensure that our electricity sources are clean.
Bottom line: as the Government of Canada, and governments around the world, work to meet their commitments under the Paris Agreement and COP26, fossil fuel usage will be greatly reduced, and electrification will progress. You can do your part by rethinking your choices at home. An electric fireplace is less expensive to purchase, install and operate; has the right amount of heat for your rooms (or no heat at all); is more flexible around which to design; looks great; and has zero carbon and greenhouse gas emissions. Why would you NOT consider an electric fireplace for your next project?!
Stylish Fireplaces knows that adding a fireplace to your home can be challenging. With an electric fireplace and their NFI Certified Hearth Design Specialists, it’s easy to create a space you’ll love to share with family and friends. Check out all the options and connect with their experts for help to find the perfect electric fireplace for you. You’ll live stylishly ever after.