The National Association of Home Builders says fireplaces are among the top three most desired features for a new homebuyer. Who doesn’t love the idea of sitting by a crackling fire on a cold night? Like most things, though, that ambiance costs money. Fireplaces are also often major sources of air leaks. Bob Vila of “This Old House” says they can send up to 8 percent of valuable warm air right up the chimney.
The good news is that fireplaces can become more than an accessory to create a mood. You can improve fireplace efficiency by choosing an energy-efficient fireplace, or by taking other steps to improve how you use your fireplace.
Before we get into how to make your fireplace more efficient though, let’s take a look at the most efficient fireplace types and do a little comparing.
In the battle for most efficient fireplace, gas fireplace efficiency is always going to win over wood fireplace efficiency. That’s because gas fireplaces burn more cleanly 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 less emissions.
Here are some other pros and cons to consider when comparing gas vs. wood-burning fireplaces:
When comparing gas vs. electric fireplaces, electric is the cleanest fireplace. Electric fireplaces are the only ones that do not release pollutants into the atmosphere. They are also cool to the touch, making them particularly safe in homes with small children and animals.
Other pros for electric fireplaces:
Maybe you’ve decided that converting your fireplace to electric or gas is unrealistic or just doesn’t fit your personal preference. (We can all agree wood-burning fireplaces win the ambiance award.) If that’s the case, here are some tips on how to make your wood fireplace more efficient.
So the final tally is in: If you want the most efficient fireplace, you want an electric one. Get more energy-efficiency tips for your home on our blog.
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