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Gas fireplaces save money and the Earth

December 18, 2008 12:00:00 AM PST
Even in Southern California, a fireplace is one of the most wanted extras when buying a house. But as many communities are finding out, wood-burning fireplaces emit a tremendous amount of pollution. In addition, the price of firewood is rising. ABC7 Consumer Specialist Ric Romero says the answer is a gas log fireplace.Matt Abrams of San Dimas has a morning ritual during cooler weather. He fires up the logs in the fireplace, and then sits down with the paper and a cup of coffee. Matt only has to wait a few seconds for a blazing fire. That's because he has a gas log fireplace. Matt says he wouldn't go back to real wood.

"We had a wood-burning log set in here. And it seemed like every time we used it, it was just smoky and sooty," says Matt. "So when we freshened it up, we put a log set in - had it put in. And we love it. We use it all the time."

If you aren't convinced that you should switch to a gas log fireplace, then perhaps a $125 instant rebate would change your mind. The money is offered up by the Air Quality Management District. If you buy a gas log set from one of two manufacturers, at one of 60 area retailers, the money is yours.

"You're not going to get the mess, you don't need to clean out your fireplace ... You're not going to get - I'll call it the 'bugs' that come in with the wood," says Thomas Kay, Outdoor Elegance Patio in La Verne.

Gas logs cost anywhere between $300 and $600, depending on the size. There is also a $75 installation charge, unless you need a gas line. But remember, there is an instant rebate of $125 from the AQMD. However, the rebate is only applicable if the gas fireplace is professionally installed.

Although wood burning is not yet banned, the AQMD will soon require builders to stop installing wood-burning fireplaces because of the pollution.

"Fireplaces emit more - in fact four times more - than all of the power plants emit of this pollutant on a daily basis," says Sam Atwood, AQMD Media Office.

Gas logs are 99 percent cleaner and are virtually hassle-free.

"We just use the fireplace all the time," says Matt. "We turn it on, use it, turn it off and leave."

The instant rebates are limited to a first come, first served basis. Just visit www.healthyhearths.org.

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