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Americans are spending more time at home and indoors than ever before due to the ongoing COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic. When the pandemic hit, not only did the unemployment rate skyrocket to its worst level since the Great Depression, but those who were able to work remotely started doing so in record numbers. In fact, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, a stunning 31% of workersswitched to working from home by early April 2020. Schools and universities quickly shut down, sending millions of students home to take classes online. With businesses from hotels to restaurants to gyms shuttering seemingly overnight, even recreation was suddenly restricted to people’s own backyards.

As of August 2020, all states are in some phase of reopening, but life is not back to normal. With many businesses still closed and safety protocols such as mask-wearing and social distancing in place, those who are able to stay home are mostly still choosing to do so.

All this staying home means a lower risk for contracting COVID-19, but it also means more potential exposure to indoor air pollution. While outdoor air pollutionlevels are regulated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), indoor levels are not. So it’s up to you to make sure the air your family is breathing is as healthy as possible. Fortunately, this can be a win-win, as many of the measures that reduce indoor air pollution can also result in significant discounts on your homeowners insurance.

In this article:

What is Indoor Air Pollution?

Indoor air pollutionrefers to contaminants in the air you breathe inside a building — in this case, your home. Indoor air pollution can cause immediate health effects, such as irritation of the eyes and throat, fatigue, headaches, and dizziness. It can also worsen existing conditions such as asthma. In addition, some indoor pollutants can cause long-term health problems such as heart disease and even cancer. Here’s an overview of some common indoor pollutants.

Air Pollutant Description Impact on Home
Mold Mold is a naturally occurring organic substance that breaks down dead material such as fallen leaves. Indoors, though, it can pose health risks. There are many types of molds, some more dangerous than others, but all need moisture to survive. Some molds cause irritation or allergic reactions, while others contain toxic compounds known as mycotoxins. Watch for symptoms such as runny nose, red or watery eyes, sneezing and skin rashes. Mold can also cause extensive damage to your home.
Carbon monoxide Carbon monoxide is an odorless, colorless, tasteless gas. In the home, it generally comes from leaking or poorly maintained gas appliances, wood stoves or fireplaces. Health impacts range from fatigue and chest pain at low concentrations to flu-like symptoms and brain fog at moderate concentrations to acute illness or even death at high concentrations.
Lead Lead is a naturally occurring element that was once added to many household products, including paint, dishes and water pipes. Although it is no longer used, it may still be present in homes built before 1978. Children and pregnant women are at highest risk from lead exposure. Premature birth, low birth weight, behavioral problems, hyperactivity and anemia are common. In adults, lead can cause reproductive problems, cardiovascular disease and reduced kidney function.
Nitrogen dioxide Nitrogen dioxide is a toxic, corrosive gas that is typically associated with defective gas appliances such as stoves or heaters. Nitrogen dioxide is a respiratory tract irritant. It can cause allergy-like symptoms, worsen asthma, contribute to the development of bronchitis and raise the risk of respiratory infections in children.
Stoves, heaters, fireplaces and chimneys Stoves, heaters, fireplaces and chimneys can be vehicles for some of the pollutants mentioned above. To guard against exposure, make sure they are properly cleaned and maintained. Impacts vary depending on which specific pollutants are involved.
Pet dander Pet dander, or the skin cells that flake off pets with fur or feather, is a common irritant in many homes. Pet dander is generally not a concern for those without pet allergies or asthma. In sensitive individuals, irritation of the eyes and nose, coughing, and wheezing are typical symptoms.
Tobacco smoke Tobacco smoke contains hundreds of chemicals known to be hazardous. Indoor smoking does not allow these toxins to escape, creating a buildup in the air and on surfaces. Tobacco smoke can cause respiratory tract irritation, including coughing and watery eyes. Over time, exposure is also linked to lung cancer, heart disease, and stroke.

Preventing Coronavirus Cases With Better Air Quality

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), in addition to the larger droplets expelled by coughing or sneezing, the coronavirus is easily spreadthrough the aerosols generated by talking, singing, or even breathing. These aerosols disperse fairly quickly outdoors but can hang in the air for hours indoors. 

“We really do think that being indoors is where most of the transmission is occurring,” Shelly Miller, professor of environmental engineering who studies indoor air quality at the University of Colorado at Boulder, told WBUR. “And it’s pretty rare now to see anything related to outbreaks from outdoor conditions.”

Asymptomatic people (those who are infected but have no symptoms) can easily transmit the virus indoors. Therefore, maintaining indoor air quality can help combat the spread.

How coronavirus could enter your home

Of course, COVID-19 can’t spread in your home unless it finds an entry point. There are several ways in which the virus could enter your home:

External transmission— Family members who work or socialize outside the home may be exposed by co-workers, customers, friends, or even strangers. They could then unknowingly bring the virus home.

Hosting get-togethers— Hosting gatherings at home, even when socially distanced, increases the risk of introducing the virus. Remember, you can’t guarantee that your friends or even your family members have been following all safety protocols.

Face coverings and other surfaces— Though they are even more effective at stopping you from infecting others, new research shows that wearing a face-covering or mask can cut your riskof contracting the coronavirus by up to 65%. However, the virus can live on face coverings, like all surfaces. Therefore, it’s important to carefully handle your mask when you remove it, and then dispose of it or wash it immediately. It’s also a good idea to wipe down groceries and packages when you bring them inside and leave your shoes at the door. Also, wash your hands after touching anything potentially contaminated.

What if someone tests positive?

If someone in your home does contract the coronavirus despite your best efforts, indoor air quality measures can help reduce (though not eliminate) the risk of in-home transmission. Note that boosting air quality alone can’t get rid of the virus, but it can be an effective part of a cohesive overall risk reduction plan. Here are some things you can do:

Boost natural ventilation Open windows and doors on opposite sides and floors of your home. Use fans to move the air, taking care not to point them in such a way as to blow air directly from one person to another.

Upgrade your HVAC filters — Better filtration may increase the amount of virus that is removed from the air. Consider upgrading to high-efficiency filters, but check your owner’s manual to determine the maximum filtration your HVAC system can tolerate.

Use a portable air purifier — In tandem with other precautions, a portable air purifier can help to remove more coronavirus from the indoor air. Consider placing a portable purifier in the room where you spend the most time, taking care not to blow the air directly from one person to another.

Other stepsto take include isolating the ill person in one room with a separate bathroom, wearing masks and maintaining social distancing inside your home, and not sharing food or utensils. Be sure to frequently disinfect all commonly touched surfaces, such as light switches and doorknobs.

Tips for Improving Your Indoor Air While Saving on Your Home Insurance

There are a few things you can do to improve your indoor air quality that may also help you save money on your homeowners insurance. Every insurance company and policy is different, so check with your insurer for details. In general, though, these tips may bring you a discount:

• Install protective devices for your indoor air like gas leak detectors, carbon monoxide detectors, and smoke detectors. These devices can also save lives, since a gas leak or a fire could quickly turn deadly.

• Update your wood or gas stove to an electric stove. Chefs may prefer gas stoves, but both wood and gas can emit harmful chemicals if not carefully maintained. By switching to an electric stove, you can save on homeowners insurance.

• Stop smoking or vaping, at least indoors. It’s best, of course, to kick the habit. But if you’re not ready to quit, consider setting up a smoking area in your backyard. This will allow smoke, and the hazardous chemicals it contains, to dissipate rather than building up.

• See if your roof needs replacing. An updated roof can prevent excess moisture from collecting in your attic, which is a common cause of mold buildup.

• Consider investing in a dehumidifier. Toxic black mold is common in humid climates, and insurance carriers may not pay to have it removed if you don’t try to mitigate the situation.

• Replace lead pipes and repaint walls that may have lead paint. Lead is most dangerous when it starts peeling or chalking, but it can still cause problems even in relatively good condition. A good coat of modern latex paint will seal the lead paint underneath.

• It’s true that so-called “aggressive” dog breeds are unfairly maligned, but if you’re looking for a new dog, your insurance company may prefer that you choose a “non-aggressive” breed. Regardless, a short-haired, low dander breed is a better choice for indoor air quality.

What Can I Do Right Now?

Some improvements, such as upgrading your roof, take time. But there are some easy things you can do right now to boost your home’s indoor air quality. Here are a few tips:

• Open windows to promote natural airflow and boost ventilation. If possible, choose windows at opposite ends of the house and use fans to push air back and forth.

• Use a doormat to prevent additional biological contaminants from being tracked inside. In addition, there is some evidencethat the coronavirus can live on the soles of shoes, so you may want to get in the habit of removing your shoes at the door.

• Dust and vacuum your house. Dust is a prevalent allergen, and dusting and vacuuming will also eliminate pet dander and other common irritants.

• Pick up new filters at your local hardware store — but not just the obvious ones! In addition to upgraded HVAC filters, also grab new filters for your vacuum cleaner and kitchen vent. Thoroughly clean your clothes dryer’s lint filter. Also, make sure you have enough face masks — and filters, if your masks have a filter pocket.

Some bad news for plant lovers: Despite popular wisdom, it turns out that house plants won’t do muchto clean your indoor air. Research shows that the number of plants you would need to cleanse the air in an average drafty, cluttered home would be virtually impossible to achieve. There are certainly benefits to fresh plants, but you’ll need to choose other methods to boost your air quality.

Putting It All Together

Indoor air quality is always important, but never more so than when people spend an extended amount of time inside. With the COVID-19 pandemic keeping people home from work, school, and recreation, combined with the fact that it spreads most easily indoors, now is the time to do what you can to boost the quality of your indoor air. Fortunately, some of the same techniques that can help reduce the risk of spreading the virus through the air in your home will also lower the levels of common pollutants in your home. You may even become eligible for homeowners insurance discounts along the way.

Your goals should be to improve ventilation, boost filtration, and lower the number of contaminants in your home. From opening windows to upgrading your HVAC filters to regular vacuuming, these easy-to-follow strategies won’t guarantee that your family won’t get sick, but they can form an important part of your overall risk management plan.

Wood stoves are becoming increasingly popular in the USA, with more than 10 million homes using them regularly, according to the U.S. Energy Information Agency. Anyone investing in a new wood stove needs to take many factors into consideration before parting with their money. This is particularly true for seniors who need to make sure that the stove they choose is not only easy to use, but safe and practical as well. Following a few simple tips will make it a lot easier to find the most senior-suitable wood stove on the market.

Size does matter

One of the most important considerations when choosing a wood stove is its size. When choosing a wood stove for a senior it is important to determine what exactly it will be used for. Will its primary purpose be to heat the home, prepare food on, or to create ambiance? If the senior is living in a relatively small home, there is no need for an over-sized oven. In fact, installing a wood stove that is too big will waste fuel, pollute the air, and even result in a severe fire hazard thanks to a creosote build-up.  It is always best to pick the smallest stove that can heat the required space efficiently as this will allow you to burn a clean, hot fire without overheating your living area and posing a threat to your health and well-being.

There is no need to break the bank

While there are undoubtedly woodstoves on the market that carry a very hefty price tag, there are also plenty of more affordable and equally as effective stoves available. Many seniors are already faced with several budgeting challenges and investing in an overpriced stove will just exacerbate the concern. Draw up a budget and stick to it. Do not be cajoled into spending extra money on fitting and features you do not need. A top-of-the-range ultra-modern wood stove may look nice but at the end of the day it will, more than likely, not warm your room or boil your water any better than a much more affordable model.

Don’t disregard aesthetics completely

Although a wood stove’s overall performance is of greater importance than its design, aesthetics should not be disregarded completely as they can be linked to distinct benefits for senior owners. Stoves typically either stand on legs or a pedestal. Some stoves even have adjustable legs which are ideal for wheelchair users. Wood stoves generally boast a single door, a double door, or a side door.  A glass door allows you to keep an eye on your wood levels inside without causing a disruption to the combustion process. Stoves with flat tops are easier to cook on and pose less of a burn hazard than those with removable burners.

There are many benefits to owning a wood stove. As long as proper research is conducted before making a purchase, a senior can safely enjoy the wonderful warmth emitted by a cozy wood-burning stove. 

1.9 percent of US households still use wood for their heating needs  as opposed to electricity or utility gas, according to a report by the US Census Bureau. Many people still rely on wood not only since it's usually cheaper than the other alternatives but also since it is better for the environment. While woodburning stoves are mostly installed in the living room or kitchen, you can find them anywhere in a home including in a bedroom, home office, or even your mancave. If you are lucky enough to have a mancave, adding a woodburning stove is a surefire way to make it so much better than it already is, especially if you live in an area that gets cold from time to time. However, being an addition that could potentially be dangerous, you must be careful to ensure that you install it correctly. 

Choosing an ideal spot for your woodstove 

You must make the decision of where you're going to be putting your stove in your mancave long before going out to buy one. Since a wood stove is a space heater, you want to have it installed in a central position where it can heat every corner of your mancave. To maximize its efficiency, pick a spot with good insulation so that the heat from the woodstove is not lost through windows or walls. You also want to install it in a spot where it won't cause your TV, gaming console, or other electrical appliances in your mancave to overheat. Keep in mind that your woodstove will require a chimney, which ideally should be vertical and with as few bends as possible.

Make it multifunctional

One of the things that people love most about mancaves is that they give you a safe spot where you can hide away from the rest of the world and be alone for as long as you want. To further cement this feeling in your mancave, you can choose a woodstove that allows you to cook on it. There are various wood stove options that are specifically designed to allow people to cook while still performing their primary function of heating, but any with a flat surface on top that's large enough to hold a cooking pot will do. This addition can transform your mancave from a place you hang out in from time to time to a prepper's dream space where you can live, eat, have fun, and stay warm for as long as you need to, even when there are power outages. 

Choosing a wood stove 

After identifying an ideal spot in your mancave to install your woodstove, the next step is to choose one. Modern wood stoves come in various sizes, designs, and finishes and not all of them will be a good fit for your mancave. The first thing to consider is the size of your woodstove which will depend on how much space you have in your mancave and your heating needs. You want a stove that is big enough to meet your heating needs but not too big that it makes your mancave uncomfortably warm or takes up too much room. Another thing to consider is the stove's clearance rating, which is the minimum distance you should maintain between the stove and nearby walls, furniture, and appliances. You must also consider the design of the woodstove and how it fits in with the overall design or theme of your mancave. Whatever you end up choosing, make sure that it is certified by the Environmental Protection Agency. 

A woodstove could be the thing that is missing in your mancave to take it to the next level. Not only will it make your mancave warm and cozy but it can also add to the aesthetic appeal and make it feel more homely. But, to be on the safe side, make sure your installation is done by certified professionals who'll follow safety guidelines to the letter. 

We spend, on average, roughly 90% of our time indoors, where concentrations of pollutants can be up to five times higher than they are outdoors. For those of us burning wood indoors, this can be particularly concerning, but the good news is that by using a wood stove rather than an open fireplace, you’re already breathing in far fewer pollutants, and many of the steps you take to keep your stove eco-friendly will also help minimize the level of pollutants in your home. That said, it’s important to be aware of the effects of wood smoke and what you can do to improve your indoor air quality when you use a wood stove.

The Effects Of Burning Wood In The Home

When we breathe in wood smoke, we inhale pollutants and small particles, which can cause irritation to the lungs and eyes, and exacerbate breathing difficulties like bronchitis and asthma. Heavy exposure in the long term can lead to heart difficulties and reduced lung function, particularly in infants and older adults. 

There are a few steps you can take to reduce the amount of toxins you breathe in from wood smoke. Improving filtration and ventilation is key, as this exchanges stale air for fresh air. Air conditioning systems filter indoor air to remove airborne particles, and some also act as air purifiers - make sure you understand the parts and functions of your unit, and install air purifiers if yours doesn’t have one. Clean HEPA filters regularly, and monitor the air quality with an indoor air monitor, which will alert you if there’s a reduction of the quality of the air in your home.  

Keep Your Wood Stove Clean And Well-Maintained

Ensure that your wood stove is certified by the EPA - modern stoves are cleaner and more efficient, and this certification is required, but if you’re using a very old stove, it may be time to upgrade. Modern stoves burn less wood than older stoves, and reduce the amount of wood smoke emitted.

Ensure that any air leaks are sealed and insulated, and have your stove serviced regularly. The chimney, too, should be swept once a year to clear out creosote and pollutants. As well as keeping your air quality at its best, this will ensure the safety of your stove.

Using Your Stove For Optimum Air Quality

To keep pollutants to a minimum, burn only dry, natural wood. Damp wood doesn’t burn as easily, and will produce much more smoke, as well as generating less heat. Stack split wood off the ground for six months to a year to season it, keeping it covered with plenty of room for air flow. Cracking at the ends of the logs will show you when the wood is dry. Dry wood should also make a hollow sound when two logs are knocked against each other. You can use a moisture meter to check that the wood is dry enough - moisture content should have dropped to 15-20% before burning. 

When you’re building your fire, stack larger logs at the bottom, followed by smaller logs topped with sticks or wood chips. When you’re lighting the stove, light the top of the pile. Keep the fire hot, as this produces a cleaner fire with little visible smoke. 

Because a wood stove keeps the fire contained, it causes far less problems for indoor air quality than an open fireplace. However, in order to keep the air quality of your home as clean as possible, it’s important to keep your stove well maintained and pay attention to the moisture content of the wood you’re burning. Doing this will also reduce the stove’s environmental impact, and keep it burning at its most efficient level.

Biomass Stove Tax Credit Extended to December 31, 2020

Tax credits are powerful incentives for potentially hesitant consumers to invest in new biomass-fueled freestanding stoves and energy conservation technology. For nearly a decade,

HPBA has worked in Washington, D.C. to maintain a tax credit for purchasers of new biomass stoves so that communities and individuals can reap the financial and environmental benefits that newer, more efficient technology provides. 

UPDATE:In late December 2019, the biomass stove tax credit was extended for qualifying purchases made before December 31, 2020. Remind consumers that they are able to claim the credit on their 2018 and 2019 returns if they made a qualifying purchase in those tax years. 

HPBA continues to fight for another extension of this important incentive for consumers to invest in cleaner, more efficient technology. 

Industry Specific FAQs

When does this tax credit go into effect and how long will it last?

This tax credit is valid only for the purchase and installation of a qualifying biomass stove made before December 31, 2020. Consumers would claim the tax credit in the year in which it was purchased.

What is the Biomass Stove Tax Credit? What products qualify?

This federal tax credit is an opportunity for the hearth industry to promote energy-conscious purchases to consumers that improve the energy efficiency of their home. It is a $300 dollar-for-dollar, non-refundable, tax credit for purchasing a qualifying biomass-burning stove before December 31, 2020. Biomass simply means the stove uses wood or pellet fuel.

Any biomass appliance that meets or exceeds an energy efficiency rating of 75 percent qualifies for this credit. This credit applies to qualifying stoves that heat the air or water. However, visit your local specialty retailer who can explain which products qualify for the tax credit. Manufacturers must provide documentation proving in some way that the appliance qualifies for the credit.

What Does the IRS Say? 

Energy-efficient building property (covered by this credit includes) a stove that uses the burning of biomass fuel to heat your home or heat water for your home that has a thermal efficiency rating of at least 75%. 

What must a manufacturer's certification statement contain?

A manufacturer's certification statement must contain the following information: 

  • The name and address of the manufacturer.
  • Identification of the class of qualified energy property (Biomass-Burning Stove) in which the property is included.
  • The make, model number and any other appropriate identifiers of the stove.
  • A statement that the product is an eligible qualified energy property.
  • A manufacturer's certification statement must contain a declaration, signed by a person currently authorized to bind the manufacturer in these matters, in the following form: "Under penalties of perjury, I declare that I have examined this certification statement, and to the best of my knowledge and belief, the facts are true, correct, and complete."

If a customer claimed this tax credit in past years, may they claim it again this year?

Yes, but only if they haven't reached the credit claim cap of $500. That said, if consumers are in your store looking to update their appliance, there may be stove accessories that you could recommend to enhance their experience (even if they aren't eligible for the tax credit).

What Does the IRS Say?

If the total of any non-business energy property credits you have taken in the previous years (after 2015) is more than $500, you generally cannot take the credit. 

Why was 75 percent efficiency selected?

The 75 percent efficiency number was originally designated by the U.S. Congress in 2008 as part of the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act and was used again for this tax credit.

Does the stove need to be manufactured in the U.S. to qualify for the credit?

No, there is no "Buy America" component to this tax credit.

What should a retailer advise the customer retain for tax purposes?

Retailers and consumers must keep exact records of any sale or purchase. Retailers should provide a consumer with the manufacturer's certification statement for the specific product model purchased. A consumer may rely on a manufacturer's certification statement that their products are qualified energy property. A taxpayer is not required to attach the certification statement to the return on which the credit is claimed. A consumer claiming a credit for the qualified non-business energy property should retain the certification statement as part of the taxpayer's records.

Manufacturers should make this certification document available to consumers on their website, in the product packaging, or in some other easily accessible manner.

What Does the IRS Say?

For purposes of taking the credit, you can rely on a manufacturer’s certification in writing that a product is qualified residential energy property. Do not attach the certification to your return. Keep it for your records.

With 8.8 million households in the United States using wood stoves as a secondary source for heating, regular maintenance and cleaning of the appliance is a necessity for many people nationwide. However, many wood stove owners may not be familiar with the importance of cleaning their stoves, how to do it, or when to let a professional step in. Whether you’ve just installed a wood stove in preparation for winter or you’ve had one for some time, here are some of the basics about care and cleaning that you should know.

The importance of proper care

While cleaning your wood stove might sound redundant (until it becomes noticeable), it’s an important part of owning a wood stove that should never be overlooked. This is because an unclean stove — including both the chimney and flue — can not only prevent it from working properly, but can easily become a fire hazard due to the build-up of creosote, which also makes it a health hazard as well. With that said, the cleaning and proper care of your wood stove are necessary for proper efficiency and safety, as regular maintenance can help keep your stove in an ideal condition that doesn't harm anyone's health.

Cleaning your stove 

While how often your wood stove gets cleaned depends upon how often it’s used, it should still be done at least once a year. When it does need to be cleaned, always begin with the stove completely cold in order to avoid burning yourself. Then, you can scoop out the ashes with an ash shovel and wire brush and put them in a metal bucket. Next, scour the buildup and rust off with a wire brush. The exterior of the stove can easily be cleaned with a vinegar solution and rag. As for the glass, a cold piece of charcoal can easily rub away any soot, and after you wipe it with a paper towel, you’ll find that it’s clean. However, when it comes to cleaning more complicated aspects of your stove — like the chimney and flue — calling a professional can be a good idea.

When to call a professional

Calling a professional to clean your stove is never a bad idea, especially if you don’t feel comfortable with cleaning the stove yourself or don’t have the proper equipment to do so safely. Professionals can ensure that your stove is properly and safely cleaned, inspected, and safe for use. Many may use high tech equipment as well, which can be expensive to buy and hard to obtain for personal use. Thus, calling a professional can prove to be a quality and convenient service for wood stove owners, in addition to bringing peace of mind and reducing stress surrounding the issue.

While it’s definitely possible to clean your wood stove yourself, it’s necessary to be informed of the several safety precautions to take when doing so. For example, when disposing of the ashes, it’s necessary to do so properly by keeping them in a metal bucket for 24 hours (in case they contain any live coals). It’s also very important to take care when cleaning the chimney in order to prevent falling off the roof. Due to the extent of safety precautions needed, utilizing a professional is always a great idea. 

Cleaning your wood stove and keeping up with its maintenance is an absolute necessity in order to keep it working properly and safely. While many may call a professional to do so, others may choose to take care of it themselves. No matter the situation, it’s important to be aware of the safety precautions involved.

Winter is just around the corner, which means that an increasing number of Americans will start their preparations for the colder weather.  While many households make use of electric or gas heating sources, as many as 4.8 million homes use a wood stove, according to the U.S. Energy Information Agency. Despite rendering exceptional heat and being very economical, many homeowners wonder whether wood stoves affect indoor air quality. Although excess smoke can pose a problem, there are a number of ways to ensure that your wood stove is as safe and eco-friendly as possible in its maintenance and usage.  

Use dry wood

Dry wood not only creates substantially hotter fires but less smoke as well. Where possible, collect your wood, chop it, and leave it to air dry for at least a year before using it. This will not only result in a reduction in indoor air pollution but also save you money as no heat will be wasted on evaporation. You can make your fires even more eco-friendly by collecting branches and trees that have already fallen or using wood that would otherwise have been destined for the landfill. You can even try and source offcuts from your local joiner or sawmill but take care to not use anything that has been painted or treated in any way.

Allow enough air to circulate

If you want the air inside your home to be as clean as possible you need to ensure that there is adequate ventilation. Apart from making use of a sound chimney system, you also need to make sure that there is no furniture blocking the vents. You should also consider opening a window or two a bit in order to have fresh air enter the home while letting any excess smoke and gas emissions escape. Take care not to open your windows too much, however, as you don’t want all the lovely heat your stove is generating, to escape.  

Give your stove and chimney some TLC

One of the simplest ways to make your wood stove more environmentally-friendly is to keep both the stove and your chimney well-maintained.  Remove creosote build-up from your stove on a regular basis with a special detergent and limit future build-up by only making fires with seasoned, dry wood. Your chimney is a very important component of your wood stove.  Apart from posing a fire risk, a chimney that is filled with soot and creosote can also leave the house filled with an unpleasant smoke. In order for a chimney to remain clean, it has to be thoroughly inspected and swept at least two times a year.

A wood stove can be a great addition to any home, especially during the colder months. As long as you take the necessary steps to combat any indoor air pollution as much as possible, you will be able to enjoy the wonderful heat omitted by your stove without suffering from any adverse effects. 

Seniors over the age of 65 are three times more likely to be injured or lose their life in a home fire than younger people. Home fires are more likely to occur during the winter, when various heating methods are being used. Wood stoves create a pleasant atmosphere, heat the home well, and are commonly seen in senior’s homes, but they can present risks. If you have family, such as elderly parents, who are vulnerable and use a wood stove, there are some precautions you can take to help keep them safe and give yourself some peace of mind.

Regular maintenance and cleaning

Regularly maintaining and cleaning wood stoves can help to keep older relatives safe. Ideally, this should be done by a professional who can also inspect the flue for any problems, and make sure that everything is working as it should. Creosote can build up in the wood stove and chimney, and will need cleaning thoroughly. This should be done at the end of each winter, or whenever your loved ones are done using their wood stove for the year, and at least once during the winter while it’s being regularly used. You may need to arrange regular maintenance for seniors in case they forget or are unaware that it needs doing. 

Prioritize safety

Safety should always come before anything else when warming the home. In some circumstances, the risks that a wood stove presents outweigh the benefits, and opting for alternative heating solutions can be a better option. For example, a senior with dementia may leave their wood stove unattended or play with it out of confusion, or they may have a physical illness, like arthritis, that makes it difficult for them to manage a wood stove. If they live with someone else who can take responsibility for the wood stove then it’s not as big of a problem, but for seniors living at home alone it’s important for their loved ones to assess the risks and how safely their wood stove can be used. Assistive technology can give you peace of mind if your loved one lives alone, as they can call for help easily if something goes wrong while they're using the stove.

Precautions family can take to protect seniors

There are plenty of things loved ones can do to reduce the risk of a fire or injuries from a wood stove. Placing it on a fire-resistant base will reduce the chance of hardwood or carpeted floors becoming hot and catching fire. Ensuring any wood used for burning is dry and well-seasoned, which usually takes about two years, helps to minimize the amount of creosote and tar that builds up in the wood stove and chimney, as well as reducing the amount of smoke produced. Logs should be kept away from the wood stove, as stacking them next to it can increase the chance of a fire. Seniors may benefit from having a fireguard in place to reduce the risk of them falling into the fire or the temptation to go near it. This can be particularly helpful if someone else in the home is responsible for the wood stove and there’s no need for seniors to touch it at all.

Seniors can safely use and enjoy their wood stove to warm their homes, but loved ones can take some precautions and follow basic safety tips to reduce any risks and give themselves peace of mind throughout the winter.

More than 12 million households are currently reliant on wood-burning stoves for heat generation according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. While the majority of the stoves are located in the living rooms of American homes, it is not uncommon to find a wood stove right in the heart of the home: the kitchen. Although wood stoves are very versatile and can easily be placed here, there are a few considerations, such as the following, that you need to keep in mind before choosing the right unit for your home.

Placement of your stove is very important

Many modern-day kitchens boast extractor fans that aim to remove unpleasant odors from the kitchen. These fans create negative pressure which is not suitable for wood burning stoves which rely on positive chimney pressure to eradicate combusted gases from the room. When placing your stove, make sure it is not too close to your extraction fan as you don’t want the smoke to be circulated back into the kitchen. This can easily be avoided by either installing an air vent in the room or investing in a stove that receives air externally.

Safety first

While a wood stove can be installed virtually anywhere in the kitchen, it is important to avoid placing it too close to other appliances as it can cause them to overheat. Don’t keep any combustible materials near the stove either as there is always a slight possibility of embers falling out. For added safety, have a smoke detector installed in your kitchen to alert you of any looming dangers that require your attention.

A wood stove can boost the visual appeal of your kitchen

Modern-day wood burning stoves are available in a host of sizes, designs, and finishes that will complement any kitchen beautifully.  Whether you have a country-style kitchen with a lot of wood finishes or one that is ultra-modern, you are bound to find a wood stove that fits the room perfectly.  While an older, classical stove will enhance the ambiance of your somewhat-whimsical kitchen nicely, a sleek design will look striking in a more contemporary setup. You don’t have to try to match the exact color and style of your existing cooking and cleaning appliances including your dishwasher, oven, and fridge, but you can opt for a wood stove that will not only look good but suit your needs in terms of practicality as well.

Yes, you can cook on your wood stove

Depending on the type of wood burning stove you invest in, you might find yourself able to cook on it. Even if you do have a kitchen filled with state-of-the-art appliances you might find it intriguing to cook on your wood stove, just like our great-grandparents did many years ago.  A lot of people enjoy the flavor of wood-cooked food as it has a distinct, natural taste to it. Not only does the stove top enable you to cook and warm a large variety of dishes but it will also make it possible to prepare food during power outages if you don’t have a gas cooker.

A wood-burning stove can be a welcome addition to any kitchen. Not only will it heat up your entire home but it will also make for a beautiful focal point that enhances the appearance of the most frequented room in the house tremendously.

Cassandra Pearson

One recent study found that fall is America’s favorite season (among 29% of respondents). Additionally, Christmas is consistently named as the nation’s favorite holiday, with Thanksgiving close by in almost every poll. It’s no surprise, then, that fall and winter are often associated with cozy memories, warmth, quality time with family, and times of joy. If you are planning a seasonal getaway to your cabin this fall or winter, you may already be dreaming about making memories like the ones listed above.

An excellent way to prepare for your cozy getaway is to enhance the rooms in your cabin. If you are looking for ways to create a warm and welcoming feel to your space, explore these top design strategies.

Find the right fireplace for your space

Optimizing your cabin space for a cozy getaway starts with choosing the right fireplace. Fireplaces are not only a design element that enhances overall ambiance, but they also provide a practical way to heat a room. Rather than picking a fireplace that appeals to you online, it’s essential to ensure that your chosen fireplace fits the size of your space, the colors in your cabin, and that it meets your needs. Start by measuring the desired area you’d like the fireplace to cover, and contact a professional for recommendations. Next, choose a fireplace that works well with your future or existing decor (depending on your plans for the space). Finally, decide whether you are looking for a gas fireplace or a wood burning option. Carefully assessing each of these elements will ensure that you get the coziest feel from your new fireplace.

Add “warm” decor elements

Your cabin decor is another crucial component of how “warm” each room feels. When painting and adding decorative elements, choose colors that reflect natural elements from the season of your choice. A color palette that includes brown, red, and dark orange shades is an excellent way to capture the feel of falling leaves, pumpkins, and maple syrup. For a warm winter feel, dark green, brown, and red make the perfect starting color palette. To add physical warmth, make blankets, pillows, and throws part of your decor.

Create a DIY beverage station

Whether your getaway is planned for fall or winter, a DIY beverage station is a fun way to add even more coziness to the experience. Your guests can enjoy a delicious, warm cup of cider or hot cocoa at their convenience on chilly days. In addition to the actual beverage being served, provide enhancements such as caramel, marshmallows, whipped cream, and sprinkles.

If you’re ready for your coziest-ever cabin getaway this fall or winter, following the above tips is a great way to get started. Make memories that will last a lifetime for both you and those who will be traveling with you!

Cassandra Pearson

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