How to Choose Between a Fireplace, Stove, or Insert
Even though spring is almost here, it’s the best time to plan for the most cost-effective and efficient way to heat your home when winter comes. Many homeowners are looking at either a fireplace, stove, or insert as an alternative to traditional heating methods. In this blog post, we look at the pros and cons of each system to help you make a more informed decision.
Fireplaces have been a popular home heating method for centuries. Today, many people enjoy their fireplaces, not only for the heat but for the atmosphere and aesthetics they bring to a room. So, how does a fireplace stack up?
One of the biggest pros fireplaces have for them is how they remind us of the past. The orange crackling flame stirs our emotions and gives us a sense of nostalgia; no other heating method can match its authenticity. Another reason people enjoy fireplaces is the beauty they bring to a home.
Most fireplaces are the focal point of whatever room they’re in, and despite their shortcomings, many potential homebuyers will pay more for homes with a working fireplace. Depending on where you live, wood can be a cost-effective fuel source com-pared to natural gas or electricity. Notice that, speaking of the pros of owning a fireplace, we don’t mention the heat, and there’s a reason for that.
Fireplaces were installed in homes as heat sources; unfortunately, they don’t do a good job compared to other home heating methods like boilers, furnaces, or electric heaters. Fireplaces are so inefficient because most of the heat goes up the chimney instead of into the room where it’s intended. Some people estimate up to 85% of the heat put out by a fireplace is lost.
Another con of running a fireplace is maintenance. Burning firewood produces smoke, which causes creosote to build up in the flue. Creosote is highly flammable, and if you don’t keep up with regular cleaning, it puts you at risk of a chimney fire. Finally, many people are sensitive to smoke and the particulate that the fireplace produces, which can make them miserable with respiratory issues.
Because fireplaces are so inefficient and require constant maintenance, many homeowners have turned to stoves to heat their homes. Like the other heating methods, stoves have their advantages and disadvantages.
The most significant advantage a stove has over other heating methods is that it can generally accept a wide range of fuel sources, like wood pellets and coal; this makes them extremely versatile. Another advantage stoves have is that they can be more environmentally friendly than gas or electric, depending on the fuel source you choose.
Unlike fireplaces, stoves are highly efficient when it comes to heat output. The heating efficiency of a stove can surpass fireplaces and gas furnaces, with a rating of about 70-80%. Moreover, stoves provide direct heat, making them ideal for people who want to heat a specific area instead of the entire home.
On the downside, the fuel you need to power your stove can be expensive, depending on the market. Stoves also require regular maintenance and cleaning to keep them safe and efficient. Another downside of using a stove is that they consume fuel quickly, so you’ll need a good amount of whatever fuel source you use on hand to ensure you don’t run out when you need it most. Finally, depending on the model, a stove installation can be more costly than other heaters.
A fireplace insert is a self-contained heating appliance that fits into your existing fireplace. Inserts are typically made from metal or ceramic and contain the firebox, a blower (in some cases), and insulated walls. Depending on your preference, you can get an insert that burns wood, pellets, or gas.
Energy efficiency is the most significant advantage of converting your fireplace by installing an insert. As mentioned, a traditional fireplace can lose up to 85% of its heat energy up the chimney. However, a fireplace insert may only lose 10% of its heat, making them much better as a home heating source. Moreover, because many inserts contain a blower, they distribute heat evenly throughout the room, making everyone more comfortable. Inserts are also more environmentally friendly than other heaters, like gas or electric, and they produce less smoke, which means less chance of hazardous creosote buildup.
Like stoves, an insert can be expensive, with a high upfront cost, which includes installation. Most homeowners justify the expense, however, because of the money they save on fuel and energy. Additionally, while inserts are safer than a traditional fireplace, they still pose a fire risk if you’re not careful.
Choosing the Right System
While we’d love to tell you to buy system A or B, it’s not that simple. Many factors determine which is right for you, but here are a few things to consider.
First, look at the size of the area you want to heat. If you have a large space, like a living room or basement, a stove may be the better option because it outputs more heat than an insert.While we’d love to tell you to buy system A or B, it’s not that simple. Many factors determine which is right for you, but here are a few things to consider.
Next, consider the fuel source you’ll use and the system’s energy efficiency. Stoves and inserts are more energy efficient than fireplaces, but an insert can burn longer, stretching your fuel bill.
Finally, if you’re concerned about the environment, consider the emissions output of the system you’re looking at. The newest wood-burning appliances burn exceptionally cleanly, with many certified by the EPA.
Call the Experts at Twin City Fireplace, Masonry & Chimney
If you’re looking for a stove or insert, call the experts at Twin City Fireplace, Masonry, and Chimney. We’re a full-service, family-owned fireplace showroom with locations in Edina and Woodbury, MN. Our staff is highly experienced and knowledgeable and can direct you in choosing the perfect home heating system for your needs and budget.
We specialize in the sales, service, and installation of gas and wood-burning fire-places for indoor and outdoor spaces. We’re also licensed general contractors, gas fitters, and skilled masons to give you a seamless experience from the first call to the finished installation. Contact us today in Edina at 952-941-2685 or Woodbury at 651-204-0112.