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Cold weather lurks just around the corner, so you better start thinking about clean-burning, fuel-efficient stoves and fireplaces.

Hearth & Home magazine has just published a 64-page booklet titled "Heartwarming: A Guide to Hearth Products."Among other things, the book talks about three kinds of fuel - wood, pellets and gas.

- WOOD - In July of this year, the Environmental Protection Agency's regulations went into effect, and retailers across the country are now limited to selling stoves that burn cleanly and emit few grams of particulate matter.

Not only do these Phase II certified stoves reduce pollution by more than 85 percent, they use 25 percent to 33 percent less wood than non-certified stoves. They also reduce potentially flammable creosote formation in chimneys by up to 90 percent.

These new stoves burn the fuel and gases that older models allow to escape as smoke into the environment. Why? Because the stoves integrate one or more catalytic combustors similar to those used by the automobile industry to reduce emissions. These combustors block the path of the smoke, and their coated surfaces ignite unburned gases and smoke particles. As a result, heat is transferred into the home rather than being lost up the chimney.

Phase II approved stoves are available in decorative cast-iron or soapstone for slow-release radiant heat; or steel, for the benefits of both radiant and convective heat.

Fireplace inserts are counterparts to most stove models; they turn inefficient metal or masonry fireplaces into hearth-based, whole-home heaters.

- PELLETS - A number of homeowners are discovering the joys of wood heat without the hassle. That's because they've been converted to pellets made of wood-industry byproducts. These materials are are compressed into inch-long cylinders and sold in 40-pound waterproof bags.

The pellets are 100-percent combustible and burn cleanly without no visible smoke.

Some pellets are held in reserve in the hopper of a pellet stove or insert. A computer and circuit board determine how often fuel is fed to the fire.

Fire generated from the pellets can reach temperatures as high as 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit, yet the surfaces of the stove remain cool. The heat from the firepot is channeled to the room by a fan.

Depending upon the fuel capacity of the hopper, pellet stoves can provide a source of home heating for days. Many feature thermostats to regulate room temperature; some adapt to wall thermostats.

- GAS - There are many benefits of today's gas heating appliances - convenience, economy, warmth, beauty and the cozy appearance of crackling wood fire.

The design evolution has resulted in gas stoves and fireplaces with a burn that's practically impossible to distinguish from a real wood fire.

As gas enters the stove or fireplace, it is channeled through sand, vermiculite or gravel to create a flickering flame pattern. New technology has turned the traditional blue gas flame to gold, thus resembling glowing embers.

Also, strides in design have resulted in heating efficiencies that rival high-tech wood stoves and inserts. The newer ones not only average 70 percent to 80 percent overall efficiency but give consistent heat output.

Free-standing gas fireplaces are available with multiple glass viewing walls for an "island" of glowing warmth. Flush-to-the-wall fireplaces and free-standing stoves are also available.

Other options are gas log sets, which can be installed in open masonry or metal fireplaces.

For more information about wood heaters, pellet stoves, gas stoves, logs sets and other high-tech appliances, call 1-800-835-4323 and receive a free copy of "Heartwarming: A Guide to Hearth Products."

The information above was taken from press releases sent to the Deseret News by Hearth & Home magazine.