Tips for Choosing an Energy-Efficient Fireplace

September 15, 2015


A fireplace can add value to your home in many ways, as well as transform any room into a warm, inviting space for you and your family. However, most old wood-burning fireplaces do very little in terms of warming your home, while also leaking heat out of the chimney. They may be attractive, and even grand, but at the end of the day you may choose warmth over looks. Does this struggle sound familiar? If so, let’s take a closer look at the different types of more energy-efficient fireplaces our Maryland fireplace experts can help you install in place of your old one:

Gas Fireplaces

Gas fireplaces are some of the most efficient and popular among thousands of homeowners. If you have an existing wood-burning fireplace, you can easily convert it to gas by installing a gas fireplace insert. Or you could build a gas fireplace from scratch if you are remodeling your home anyway.

Gas fireplaces can run on either natural gas or propane, however natural gas is both less expensive and more energy efficient, producing about 5% more heat than propane. Some gas fireplace have decorative logs inside, while more modern ones may have just the flames. Some natural gas fireplaces allow for an open fire much like a traditional wood-burning fireplace. However, if energy efficiency is your goal, opt for a sealed gas fireplace with a gas front that can heat the room and keep it warm with less fuel.

Open Wood-Burning Fireplaces

As we mentioned, wood-burning fireplaces are wonderful for creating ambiance; the smell, the crackle, and the glow all make you feel cozy and relaxed. Unfortunately, they are also a lot of work to operate and traditionally don’t heat very well, which has given them a bad reputation. But if you insist on having a wood-burning fireplace, there are still a few options you can choose from that are more efficient than others.

For example, a shallower fire box (aka Rumford design) helps warm your room by pushing more heat into the room and less up the chimney. Also, while an open fireplace or a simple screen looks most appealing, a set of glass doors on your fireplace may make it much more energy efficient.

Wood-Burning Fireplace Inserts

Fireplace inserts are often used to convert a fireplace from one fuel source to another. However, you could also keep the fuel source, but improve its burning efficiency. We are talking about replacing your open wood-burning fireplace with a wood-burning insert. This will allow you to use wooden logs or pallets as fuel, but better control the intensity of the fire and maximize the amount of heat sent back into the room.

Consider a Stove

Another option for heating your home is a wood or pellet stove. A wood or pellet stove, although not technically a fireplace, can sometimes be retrofitted into your existing firebox. It is the most energy efficient option for heating your home with a potential to cut energy bills by up to 40%. A wood stove is a closed box that you load with wood periodically to heat your home; it is economical and fairly easy to maintain. A pellet stove, on the other hand, requires an electrical hookup to process the pallets. A pellet stove is a more environmentally-friendly option, however, the pellets are generally more expensive than wood you can probably get for free in your back yard.

With utility bills constantly rising, a fireplace can add value to your home and your life, while saving you money throughout the winter months. At Fireside Stone and Patio, we are experts in all the different fireplace options and are happy to work with you to determine which type of fireplace is best for your lifestyle, your budget, and your home. Contact us today for a consultation!