A Comparison of Fireplace Options for Home Heating

Wood Burning, Gas, Or Electric: Know Your Fireplace Options

A warm glow, a soft crackle, the smoky aroma of burning wood – a fireplace instantly adds warmth and comfort to any room or area. However, while traditional wood burning fireplaces are the most well-known type of fireplace, homeowners should explore all of their fireplace options before making a decision about what will work best with their home and design.

Fireplace Comparison

The classic wood burning fireplace requires significant upfront and installation costs, and fuel costs will vary according to the size of your home and the efficiency of your fireplace; however, they’re usually similar to the cost of gas. To improve the efficiency of an older fireplace, a fireplace accessory such as an insert can help retain heat. Where traditional wood burning fireplaces really shine is in their aesthetic and design. Traditional fireplaces are the only type of fireplace that offer the authentic scent and sound of burning wood, and they’re available in a wide variety of styles and materials to fit any home’s decor. Of course, make sure to use a heatproof safety gate to protect children and pets from the fire, and keep the damper open during your cozy stay by the fireplace.

A gas fireplace with a direct vent, meanwhile, can cost anywhere from $600-$5,000 to install, with a national average cost of about 20 cents per hour to run. This type of fireplace retains around 70% of the heat that’s generated, and it requires simple cleaning of dust, soot, and carbon buildup to maintain. Careful – the glass panel will become quite hot, so move flammable items a safe distance away. These fireplaces are typically features in modern, streamlined designs, and homeowners can fully control how the fire looks while burning; a direct vent fireplace includes gas fireplace logs so that the homeowner can enjoy the look of a toasty fire.

An unvented gas fireplace has similar upfront and installation costs as the direct vent gas fireplace- but with the added bonus of being nearly 100% efficient. The hourly cost of running an unvented gas fireplace is comparable to gas, and these unvented units should come with onboard monitoring components that shut the unit off in the event of depleted oxygen. You can choose your aesthetic based on your design preferences, as long as the unvented gas fireplace is used in a large room with good air flow.

If you’re trying to save money, consider an electric fireplace, which can be installed at the low price of only $200-$300 and costs 18 cents per hour when generating full heat (when it’s on just for decorative purposes, the cost drops to only 3 cents per hour). The electric fireplace is high in efficiency and very low maintenance, requiring only a simple change of light bulb. Electric fireplaces are also good choices for families since they don’t produce actual flames, as long as children and pets are kept away from the glass and screen doors. A final bonus? Electric fireplaces come in plenty of sizes and styles to choose from and don’t require a chimney or venting.

Ethanol fireplaces cost up to $1,000 upfront, depending on size, and $1.98 per hour to generate heat; however, at that price, you also get maximum efficiency. Keep your ethanol fireplace is beautiful condition by polishing the stainless steel every month, and make sure to clean up any fuel spills right away. If you’re tight on space, an ethanol fireplace is desirable thanks to its small, sleek design and its ability to be placed almost anywhere it will fit.

Finally, a pellet stove is an alternative to a fireplace that burns wood pellets for fuel. A pellet stove installation will usually cost from $1,000 to $3,000, depending on venting, chimney, and flue needs, and it will cost around $1-$1.50 per hour to heat with medium efficiency. Pellet stoves are more difficult to clean than other fireplace options, and they require a professional cleaning at least once a year. You have a low risk of accidental burns with a pellet stove since the stove itself stays fairly cool when it’s being used, and the pellet stove is also odorless. With a look similar to a traditional heating stove, most pellet stoves are found in living rooms and kitchens.

The presence of a fireplace instantly makes any home cozier, especially in the frigid winter weather. Which type of fireplace will you choose to warm your home?