Fireplaces can be a cozy, beautiful addition to your home. While we can all appreciate the added aesthetics and quick heat-up a fireplace provides, you may find yourself wondering whether it also helps with the energy efficiency of your house. Will they help you save money? Or are they an expensive addition? Let’s take a look at the considerations of using a fireplace to save money on heating bills.
One of the biggest factors that have an effect on whether you will save money on heating bills with a fireplace is the type of fireplace being used. The three common types of fireplaces are wood-burning, natural gas, and electric – all of which vary in their potential to save you on costs.
The first fireplace that comes to mind is the classic wood-burning application. Nothing says traditional like the crack and spark of wood and the rich, homey smell that comes with it. It is somewhat surprising that wood-burning fireplaces are actually the least efficient of them all, with the majority of the heat (80-90% in fact) escaping up and out of the chimney.
There are other negative aspects tied to this type of fireplace. Air from inside of your home is usually pulled into the chimney to feed the wood fire which takes away from the warm air you are trying to produce, and air conditioning can also escape through the chimney in the summer leading to even more inefficiency. Wood-burning fireplaces are also the most difficult to clean and have the potential to emit smoke into your home leading to health issues.
Slightly more efficient than wood-burning fireplaces are gas-sourced equivalents. The two variants of gas fireplaces include gas logs and gas inserts which differ in their efficiency but still lead to significant heat loss. This fireplace can lose up to 75 percent of the heat it generates but is convenient for its ability to turn on and off with the flip of a switch.
It is also important to consider the potential for safety hazards with incorrect ventilation leading to risks of carbon monoxide exposure. Besides the inefficiency and safety, the cost-saving benefits are also dependent upon gas prices in the region you live in – higher gas expenditures mean that it will be less likely to save you money.
Electric fireplaces are by far the safest and most efficient option on the marketplace, blowing the others out of the water. There is little to no maintenance required and do not alter the air quality like wood-burning and gas options have the potential to.
This alternative functions by drawing in air from your home, heating it through electric coils, then blowing it out again. The best part is its incredible efficiency – only losing 1% of its heat during the process!
Evaluating the energy impact of a fireplace depends on the cost of gas and electricity where your house is located. This matters even more when your fireplace and furnace utilize different energy sources. For example, if natural gas begins to get more expensive and your heating system uses gas, then an electric fireplace using low-cost electricity will surely save you money on heating expenses.
Zone heating is a technique you may be able to use with your fireplace to save money on heating. If you tend to spend a lot of time in one room, perhaps your fireplace can be used to keep that one room comfortable while you turn down your thermostat for the rest of the house and reduce the amount of whole-home heating.
As we’ve seen, the potential for a fireplace to save you money on energy expenses can vary widely depending on the specific fireplace you have and how it is utilized. Most of the time a homeowner will not end up saving money with a fireplace, but if you can use an electric fireplace in a strategic way, the furnace will potentially be used less and may just reduce your bills.
Looking for alternative ways to heat your home? If you are in the Central Pennsylvania area – call WM Buffington! Our team of trained professionals can help find the right heating solution for your needs.