Temperatures stay on the chilly side for much of the year here in Vermont, so any sort of clever and classy heating fixture is going to catch my eye. The German-designed Plaza Fireplace sure did, especially when I learned that it was both portable AND ventless. So you can put it anywhere and you don’t need a chimney? Apparently so. The unit burns tins of gel and an optional regulator burning box permits flame adjustment, basically by allowing several tins of burning gel to be combined into a single tray of fuel. The integrated base keeps the heat from the floor, and a classy design allows the unit to settle nicely into any milieu or setting. There are some things you should think about before rushing out to buy one of these, however: To call a fireplace “ventless” is a bit misleading. The fireplace vents, all right—into the room. No chimney means all the byproducts of combustion mix into the air you breathe. Some states do not permit ventless GAS fireplaces (California is one), and others strictly regulate their use and placement, or require an exhaust system to deal with the byproducts. Granted, this isn't gas, but it's the equivalent of burning a whole heap of gel candles! Given there's been much ado over the use of burning gel—most of it with regard to gel candles—a homeowner would do well to research the potential risks of ventless fireplaces and burning gel before making such a purchase. I must say I am intrigued by the idea of a portable fireplace, especially one that can even hang on the wall. This one sells for a respectable $3200.
Okay, I'll admit it—I'm just loving these laundry wars! LG Electronics has come out with the LG Tromm Steam Washer, a first in the effort to reduce water usage while using technology to get clothes cleaner. A steam chamber heats the water and feeds steam into the 4.0 cubic foot capacity wash drum. Steam washing is purported to get clothes cleaner and remove laundering agents more effectively than traditional, water-wasting cycles, but there are nine washing options, including combination water and steam cycles. A steam-only option lets you freshen clothes and remove wrinkles in just 20 minutes, and a remote monitoring device can go with you and keep you updated on your laundry. This strikes me as real progress, granted at a relatively high price. The Energy Star-rated washer starts at $1,500. Check out the video for more info, it's worth a peek.