In an effort to reduce high heating bills, many homeowners have started utilizing fireplaces as a source of zone-heating, rather than paying the costly expense of heating the entire home during frigid winters on the East Coast. Conventional fireplaces usually include an apparatus called a damper, which opens when the fireplace is in use to allow smoke and toxic gases to escape. While venting these gases from the home is crucial for safety, a large amount of hot air unfortunately escapes with them. This means the money saved by heating with the fireplace goes right out the chimney. Even with a closed damper and without a fire burning, the seal is not air tight, so air still escapes – expensive, furnace-heated air. To prevent the money loss caused by the unsealed flues in traditional chimneys, more and more people are turning to the option of a fireplace insert.
Fireplace inserts are sealed, energy-saving boxes that are retrofitted to sit neatly inside an existing fireplace. The warm air inside the house will not be wasted through the chimney with a fireplace insert, because the insert does not open directly into the house. Traditional fireplaces open directly into the house, but inserts have a pane of glass in place of the opening to keep warm air in the house. A fan and vent directs the heat from the fire into the home without letting air escape outside. While these inserts come in vented or vent-less varieties, experts generally suggest having an insert put in with a well-fitting vent to efficiently release gases. Another option with inserts is the type of fuel. The most common are wood-burning and natural gas.
Wood-burning fireplace inserts act similarly to traditional wood-burning fireplaces. You will still receive the adored crackling hum as well as the inviting wood fragrance, and they can burn for up to five hours before requiring additional wood. This long-burning feature means lower fuel costs of below $1,000 per year to heat the home.
Gas fireplace inserts have boomed in recent popularity. Their effective burning, especially for zone heating, has 65 to 99 percent efficiency. Because of this high efficiency, gas fires create low levels of pollution and smoke, so the fires will be healthier for you and the environment. Furthermore, gas inserts do not produce poisonous creosote, so except for an annual inspection, they cost relatively little to maintain. People enjoy the gas fuel so much that 70 percent of new heating appliance sold now use gas as the fuel.
Although purchasing and installing a fireplace insert can cost up to $4,000, you will make up for the cost quickly in utility bill savings. With the addition of a fireplace insert, you can reduce your heating costs by as much as 40 percent. Keep in mind that retrofitting a fireplace insert into an older home requires a professional analysis of the space and installation. If you live in the Washington, D.C. area, contact Winston’s Chimney Service for a professional consultation. The experts at Winston’s will help you make the best choice for heating your home this winter.