FIREPLACES: Warming up your room without burning up your wallet

Local News

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) — Winter is the perfect time to cozy up around a fireplace, but which one gives you the biggest bang for your buck?

If your ideal fireside aesthetic includes the smell of burning wood with the crackling of a fire Bob Benhower from NOB Brick and Fireplace will tell you that there is no replacing the classic wood-burning fireplace. But, he warns that what you gain in the atmosphere, you burn up in dollars.

“The wood-burning fireplace tends to make you feel a lot of heat, but it can take that same amount of heat out of your house at the same time,” said Benhower.

If you are willing to sacrifice a little bit of the authenticity of a wood-burning fire, a gas-burning fireplace could be a better fit, and the price tags can be deceiving. Although it varies by brand and even by type of gas fireplace, you will pay about two times as much for a gas fireplace compared to the price of a wood-burning one. The upside to shelling out more cash upfront is that the gas fireplace will heat your room more efficiently than wood-burning, meaning less money leaves your pockets in the long run.

“The gas fireplaces that we sell today for new homes are sealed behind glass so they’re not taking any heat out of your house, they’re not letting anything bad get into your home,” said Benhower.

NOB Brick and Fireplace has seen the popularity of gas fireplaces go up because of this and Benhower said the ease of use is a major factor as well.

“A lot of the efficient ones have a remote control on them which can do everything from raising and lowering the flame to turning it on and off when you’re not even there, acting like a thermostat on your furnace.”

If you are not sold on the idea of having a real flame inside your home there are electric options that can be explored.

“We’ve had several people go towards electric,” said Benhower. “Some people are not that comfortable with a real fire at this stage in their life and a lot of times they want just the looks, the ambiance of a fire without all the stuff that goes with it.”

Electric fireplaces are essentially dressed up space heaters, so you can expect to see your electric bill go up. Like real fireplaces, they come in a variety of different looks with some even able to change colors with the press of a button. For some, they open the door for more artistry or a modern feel to your room.

For others, they are also a way to get that warm and cozy look without worrying about how close it is to your television. According to Benhower, this has become a bigger issue in the last couple of decades as people have started to mount TV sets above their fireplaces.

Real fireplaces have safety concerns as well, especially if they are wood-burning.

 “If you’ve got a wood fire you always have that chance of embers popping and you don’t know how far they’re gonna pop so if there’s a rug or furniture close to the fire then you’ve got a problem with it,” said Benhower. “The other problem with a wood fire is if you need to leave whiel the fire’s going for some reason people are nervous about leaving an open flame going on there’s no one in the house.”

Gas fireplaces do not have the problem of popping, but if they are not sealed behind glass then there is the risk of pet or human hair being sucked into the fireplace and burned, which can cause an odor. The gas fireplaces that are sealed behind glass, called direct-vent, do not carry either of these risks and, according to Benhower, are just as safe to leave on as a furnace.

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