Fireplace Inserts: What
the Pros Know That You Don't
Become A 3-Minute Expert On Fireplace Inserts
It's a fact. All fireplaces are grossly inefficient. That's right they're lousy heat producers. And it's not that they just don't warm the house, they actually suck heated air from the room and exhaust it out the chimney thank you very much.
Luckily it's now easier than ever to convert a fireplace from a heat thief into a heat generator using fireplace inserts. To help with that here are some answers to commonly asked questions.
What exactly is a fireplace insert?
Many fireplace inserts look and work like a wood stove. They are semi-custom fitted into your existing fireplace. Most models have a viewing window so that you can see the flames or wood burning. Unlike the traditional fireplace where the heat escapes through the chimney, fireplace inserts are designed to minimize heat loss. This method alone will keep your living room warm and toasty. Some have a fan to blow heat into the room. Result? Lower heating bills.
What are the different types of fireplace inserts and how efficient are they?
Wood Inserts: This type of insert burns wood logs to produce heat. Most wood inserts are made of cast iron and is heavily insulated so that the heat radiates into the house. If you have access to cheap or free firewood these are a good option. You can warm your house at little to no cost.
Pellet Inserts: The second type of insert uses wood pellets instead of logs. Although the installation of pellet inserts is not cheap, wood pellets are. For a 40-pounder bag that costs about $4, it will keep your living room warm for 30 hours. Also, if you're not using it, there's no need to take the unused pellets out. They'll stay in unit ready for the next time you use it.
Either wood or pellet inserts are very clean burning and very efficient. They produce virtually no smoke and an amazingly small amount of ash. What you lose in the aesthetics of the open fireplace you gain in comforting heat. As basically a fireplace insert turns an inefficient fireplace into a super efficient wood burning stove.
You'll find models made by Vermont Castings, Ashley, Pacific Energy, Lopi and others.
Gas Inserts: There are insert that uses natural gas or propane to produce heat. Obviously with this type of insert you'll have to run a gas line to the fireplace. Even though natural gas prices are unpredictable, people using gas inserts claim their gas bills have gone down.
Electric Inserts: You can also get ventless models that are powered by electricity with real looking fake flames.
Typically inserts have electric blowers for better heat distribution. They can be controlled by thermostats but obviously do you no good if the power goes out.
How much does it cost to have fireplace inserts installed?
That's right. You've got the cost of the unit plus installation. Depending this may run as low as $1,000 up to $3,000 or more. I know that sounds like a lot. But with the savings you get off your heating bills, many recoup that cost back within just two or three years. Good as that is you may even be able to score a tax credit from the federal government which will cut the pay back period even more.
Ready to buy a fireplace insert?
Now that you're better informed about fireplace inserts you can keep your home warm without having to worry about soaring gas bills. Granted you may not have any snap, crackle, pop of a fireplace to enjoy. But you'll forget that when you get a smaller gas or electric bill each month.
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