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Fireplaces: Which Kind is Right for Your Home?

Fireplaces: Which Kind is Right for Your Home?

There is nothing quite like the comfort of sitting in front of the fireplace listening to the crackle of a roaring fire on chilly winter nights. For many, it brings much-needed rest and relaxation after a long day's work, but it doesn't come without a price. If you are concerned about the efficiency and resulting cost of using your fireplace this winter, there are some things you need to know.

Energy Efficiency of Fireplaces

The efficiency of your fireplace depends on many factors such as the energy efficiency of your home, how and when you use the fireplace and the main source of fuel for your fireplace. Consider these facts about the efficiency of different types of fireplaces.

  • Wood Fireplaces: Wood fireplaces have existed since early Americans built their first homes when the fireplace served as both a means of heating the home and for cooking. Modern wood fireplaces are not used for cooking, of course, but the principles are the same. An open wood fire creates a focal point in the room and produces radiant heat to heat the home. But, wood fireplaces are not energy efficient. According to Bob Villa, only about 10 percent of the heat produced from burning wood in the fireplace actually stays in the room. Nearly 90 percent of the heat produced goes up the chimney with smoke. In fact, a wood fireplace can even draw warm air from the room up the chimney, causing your furnace to work harder and use more fuel. Wood fireplaces average approximately $190 a year to operate, based on 250 hours of use.
  • Gas Fireplaces: Gas fireplaces are more energy efficient than wood fireplaces, but most do lose some heat up the chimney. New, direct-vent gas fireplaces are more efficient, as they utilize air from the outside for combustion and never draw warm air from the room like a wood fireplace can. Gas fireplaces average between 17 and 19 cents per hour to run, translating to approximately $60 dollars per year, based on 250 hours of use.

Electric fireplaces are considered the most energy efficient with most boasting a 100 percent efficiency rate. What this means to you is that all of the heat the unit produces remains in your home making you feel warm and toasty.

  • Electric Fireplaces: Electric fireplaces are considered the most energy efficient with most boasting a 100 percent efficiency rate. What this means to you is that all of the heat the unit produces remains in your home making you feel warm and toasty. Electric fireplaces average between 8 to 10 cents an hour to operate, translating to approximately $25 a year, based on 250 hours of use.

Fireplaces Should Not Be a Primary Heat Source

While your ancestors may have heated their entire home with a fireplace, this is no longer energy efficient or practical. A fireplace is a great way to heat one room or to create a cozy seating area, but it is not efficient or cost-effective as your main source of heat. Think of your fireplace as a great way to set the mood or take the chill off on cold winter nights, but don't plan to replace your main heating source with a fireplace.

There is no substitute for modern day furnaces and heat pumps. Contact us with your heating needs. Our professionals can help you decide what is right for you.