How Cost-Effective Is a Fireplace for Heating Your Home?
Just about everybody loves a roaring fireplace – it’s hard to beat the ambiance of a crackling fire on a cold winter’s day or night. But when you use a fireplace to heat your home, are you getting an efficient heat source, or is your money just going up in smoke?
This is a good question that has several answers. Let’s look at them.
Fireplaces are supplemental heating appliances
If you live in an “average-size” home in a cold-weather region, a single gas or wood-burning fireplace probably won’t be able to heat your entire house. A fireplace can, however, bring plenty of warmth to a designated area.
Generally, fireplaces are considered supplemental heating appliances, that is, they work in conjunction with central heating (or another heating source) to keep your home comfortable.
The fireplace’s BTU output
All modern fireplaces are designed to produce a certain level of heat, which is measured in BTUs.
The higher the BTU rating, the more heat your fireplace will create. When shopping for a fireplace, make sure to cover heat-production and BTU specs with your hearth store representative.
A gas or wood fireplace’s heat-efficiency rating tells you the percentage of heat generated by the unit that will be available as heat for your home vs. being lost up the chimney or vent pipe.
In simple terms, this rating indicates how efficient the appliance is in burning its fuel. Modern gas and wood zero-clearance (ZC) fireplaces, fireplace inserts and heating stoves come with a range of efficiencies, usually starting in the area of 50 or 60 percent and going as high as 90 percent.
By contrast, open traditional masonry fireplaces have heat-efficiency ratings of 10 to 20 percent and sometimes even lower.
Heating efficiency is another topic to cover with your hearth products retailer when purchasing an appliance for your home.
The condition of the fireplace and vent system
Whether you’re intending to heat a fairly small room or a larger area, the condition of your fireplace and vent system plays a huge role in efficiency and cost-effectiveness.
The best fireplaces and chimneys are those that receive regular service and maintenance by technicians certified through the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA). This service includes:
- Annual chimney sweeping for wood-burning appliances to remove flammable creosote and drafting obstructions from the chimney
- Annual fireplace and chimney inspections for both gas and wood systems to make sure everything is working correctly and safety
- Fireplace and chimney repairs performed as soon as early signs of damage or malfunction are spotted
Good burning practices
Wood fireplaces will function much more efficiently when you:
- Burn only dry (seasoned) wood
- Burn no other material such as clothing, painted wood, cardboard, magazines and household trash
- Ensure that the firebox has sufficient air for combustion and drafting – crack a nearby window if necessary
- Have your fireplace damper fully open
Get the right fireplace for your home
Felgemacher Fireplace Shop, located at 2727 Broadway Suite 5 in Cheektowaga, NY, handles a full line of gas and wood ZC fireplaces and fireplace inserts from top manufacturers. Our experienced staff will be happy to help you choose the perfect model for your heating needs and give you some good advice on getting the most out of it.
Our field division, Felgemacher Masonry & Chimney, can then professionally install your new appliance in a way that’s safe and ready to work for you.
We serve the entire Buffalo, NY, and Rochester, NY, regions. Visit us today, or give us a call at