Are Wood-Burning Fireplaces Efficient Heat Sources?

Are Wood-Burning Fireplaces Efficient Heat Sources?

10/19/2015
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Fireplace, detail of home interior.

Fireplace, detail of home interior.

Fireplaces are desired features in homes as both a focal point and a heating source—especially during the cold New England winters, fireplaces in RI and other states are a common and welcome sight.

However, traditional wood-burning fireplaces are not always efficient at heating a room. For this reason, many homeowners install fireplace inserts. Inserts improve efficiency while keeping the look and feel of a traditional fireplace.

Inserts Heat Rooms More Efficiently

With a traditional fireplace, most of the heat rises out the chimney and never gets the chance to properly heat the room. An insert is sealed in the front and draws air in from the outside to help the fire burn. This small difference between a regular fireplace and an insert is that it allows the fire to burn at a higher temperature to better heat the home. The higher temperatures also burn up more ash and soot, reducing the amount of creosote that builds up in the chimney.

A traditional fireplace has a fan that circulates air around the back of the firebox, generating heat. Unfortunately, most of the heated air comes out the front and gets sucked up the chimney instead of heating the room. Inserts have a fan to circulate the air too—but because the front of the fireplace sealed better, the heated air has a greater chance of staying in the room.

How Do I Convert My Fireplace to Include an Insert?

A fireplace insert can be adapted to an existing fireplace or it can be installed as a new unit. The process involves sealing the chimney’s tubes and adding a vent that pushes air outside (although some natural gas and propane units can be installed vent-free). While some homeowners may choose to install a fireplace insert themselves, at Hearthside Fireplace & Patio, we recommend professional installation for guaranteed results.

Although many homes in New England and around the country have traditional wood fireplaces, many are choosing to upgrade to improve heating and save money on their utility bills. Not only do inserts help wood-burning fireplaces heat better, but these devices can add value to your home as well.