This month, as the leaves all fall and the temperatures drop, the only thing I keep thinking about is how to stay warm after our amazingly great summer. I would love to fly down to Florida every time it drops below 45 degrees, but then again I don’t feel like I would be in Pittsburgh much this winter. So my next option is to throw on the sweats and get those slippers out from under the other shoes. My favorite thing to do though when it gets cold and dark so early at night is to start up to a nice cozy fire and watch the flames dance as they soothe me into a calm, happy place.
So whether it’s gas or wood burning, get your fireplace prepped and ready for the season of warmth, comfort, and relaxation.
Let’s go over some things you should know about fireplaces, safety, and efficiency so that you can keep your fireplace producing nice, warm heat to help you stay comfortable and relaxed all season long.
The National Association of Home Builders says fireplaces are among the top three most desired features for a new homebuyer. Like most wants on our list, that ambiance costs money and required upkeep if we are trying to keep our homes energy efficient. In spite of the warmth and aesthetics they provide, fireplaces are often major sources of air leaks. Our good friend, Bob Vila of “This Old House” says they can send up to 8 percent of valuable warm air right up the chimney. Ensuring your flue is closed when not in use is a great way to keep the heat in and the cold air from entering through the chimney.
The good news is that fireplaces have become much more efficient over the years. You can choose energy-efficient fireplaces or take steps to improve how you use your fireplace. Let’s take a little look at comparing fireplaces and upkeep to these 2 main options. For the battle of the most efficient fireplace, gas fireplace efficiency is the top dawg over the wood burning fireplace efficiency. That’s because gas fireplaces burn cleaner and produce fewer polluting emissions. Wood-burning fireplaces typically emit 28 pounds of particulate emissions per MMBtus (one million British thermal units), Project Greenify reports, compared to natural gas, which produces up to 99 percent fewer emissions.
Average costs to install a wood-burning fireplace is between $857 and $3,595, according to HomeAdvisor. While the average cost of a gas fireplace is between $2,300 and $10,000. Obviously, these are very wide price ranges, so you may need to get some quotes and see which option is most cost-effective based on the setup of your home.
There is a time cost involved too. Are you willing to put forth the effort to chop the wood that is in the backyard or are you having wood dropped off at the house from a local landscaping company? Either way you are stacking logs. On the other hand the gas fireplaces have instant heat once turned on and you have heat burning but an increase in gas bills.
Some other pros and cons include: Gas fireplaces have easy maintenance with no ashes or soot in the chimney. Natural gas is a fairly inexpensive form of energy, so a gas fireplace is inexpensive to run, however wood is free so buy some matches and get that fire churning. Although both gas and wood-burning fireplaces lose heat up the chimney, where there are some ventless gas fireplaces, there is also the wood burning that has a damper to allow the smoke to rise up the chimney and pull some of that warm air out of the room. Wood burning fires require annual cleaning to make sure the chimney does not have excess creosote that can create chimney fires. Creosote is a byproduct of burning wood. It is liquefied when heated and flows down the sides of the chimney, making it a fire hazard when there is a large build up. Cleaning your wood burner yearly is a great help inside the chimney and the fireplace. One thing to do is just using warm water and vinegar to clean the brick and stone without harsh chemicals. Also, for glass- a mixture of warm water, vinegar, and cornstarch can help to clear the glass. Once wiped down, clean it with newspaper to remove the dirt and cleaning product. This cleaning can also be done on the gas fireplaces as they can create a film on the fireplace and glass.
Are you the kind of person that simply loves the idea of chopping that wood and making that fire burn from the hard work and effort you put in, or the ambience that set the mood at any time with the click of a switch? Take the time to understand these pros and cons on your way to keeping warm and relaxing with the upgrade of an amazing fireplace. Either of these options allows a helpful warm source of heat with the relaxing feeling on a cold winter’s night.
If you need a contractor or some of the latest trends that I see in the market of fireplaces, let me know and I’ll help you with a top fireplace contractor and some top new and traditional fireplace trends. Enjoy the warmth!