Choosing the Right Fireplace for Your Home - November 14th 2011
There is nothing better than curling up to a nice, warm fire. A fireplace will help keep you keep cozy, but it should also be safe and energy efficient. If you are looking to add a new fireplace to your home or upgrade an existing one this season, make sure you know all the options available.
Wood-burning fireplaces are great for those who love the majesty of an open fire, the smell of burning wood, and the sound of crackling logs. However, you may not know that older wood-burning fireplaces are not very energy efficient and can actually pollute the environment. The good news is that there are newer, safer, and more advanced wood-burning fireplaces available. Look for models that are certified by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), as they emit 90% less smoke than traditional wood-burning fireplaces and distribute heat better in your home. (The standards set by the U.S. E.P.A. are also applicable in Canada.) Never light your fireplace if you are unsure of the last time it was serviced or checked by a professional.
Electric fireplaces are the perfect way to set the mood, and temperature, at the flick of a switch. They are safe, convenient, low-maintenance, and cost little to install. Although electric fireplaces probably will not add to the value of your home like other types might, they are great for small spaces and do not require a chimney or outdoor venting. Most models also come with the option of having the decorative fire turned on while the heating element is off, a great feature if all you are looking for is a little ambiance.
Gas fireplaces (both natural gas and propane) are popular options because they are clean burning, efficient, and do not even require a chimney. Although they may not offer the same flame sensation as real wood-burning fireplaces, gas is more energy efficient and you will not need to worry about cleaning up woodchips or ashes. They also distribute heat better and provide a constant supply of fuel, even if the power fails. Look for models that have an Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency (AFUE) rating; the higher the rating, the higher the efficiency.