Which Fireplaces Give off the Most Heat?

Which Fireplaces Give off the Most Heat?

Unfortunately, many traditional fire places are extremely inefficient at heating the interior space of your home. In fact, most traditional wood-burning fireplaces and fireplace inserts are only about 10 to 20 percent efficient. That means that for every $1 you spend on firewood (not to mention the time spent splitting and hauling the wood), between 80 and 90 cents of that dollar literally goes up the chimney in smoke. Chimneys obviously play an important role in drawing the smoke and other contaminants out of your home. Due to poor design, however, many chimneys act like a vacuum and essentially “suck” the heat out of your home as well. 

If you live in the middle of a heavily forested area, and don´t mind the exercise of felling trees, cutting the wood, and hauling it into your home, the inefficiency of a traditional wood burning fireplace might not be a problem. If, however, you are looking for a more practical and efficient fireplace option, you might want to consider a different type of fireplace alternative. Today, there are dozens of different alternatives for homeowners who want the special ambiance that a fireplace creates, but without the hard work of cutting and hauling firewood. Many of the different fireplace options on the market today are also significantly more efficient at heating your home. Below, we offer a quick overview of which fireplaces give off most heat and are thus most efficient at heating your home. 


More Efficient Fireplace Option #1: Rumford Wood Fireplaces

There are several recent studies that have shown that wood burning fireplaces may be contributing to indoor air pollution. The smoke that escapes into your home is filled with particulate matter and other potentially dangerous contaminants that could harm your health. Despite these concerns, many people may simply prefer a wood burning fireplace because of its natural, nostalgic charm. 

The Rumford fireplace is not a brand, but rather a unique style of a wood burning fireplace. The Rumford fireplace features a shallow box design that reflects more heat into the room, instead of sending that heat straight up the chimney. Furthermore, you should also prioritize EPA-certified wood burning fireplaces and fireplace inserts. These fireplace options will generally be the “cleanest” burning options. This not only protects your indoor air quality, but also ensures that more heat gets reflected into your home for better heating efficiency. 

More Efficient Fireplace Option #2: Ventless Gas Fireplaces

For homeowners who are willing to forego the natural charm of a wood burning fireplace, a ventless gas fireplace is widely considered to be the most efficient option on the market. These alternatives, when properly installed, emit the highest amount of heat with a 100 percent efficiency rating. This essentially means that all of the heat created gets sent directly into your home. Most of the ventless gas fireplaces that are sold today are made to look and feel just like a natural wood fireplace. The gas flame resembles the flame of a wood fire, and many of them have “faux” wood logs and even “glowing” embers. These fireplaces, as their name suggests, do not require a chimney as the heated air is recirculated throughout the room. 

It is extremely important to hire a professional for installation, as ventless gas fireplaces do emit small amounts of nitrous dioxide and carbon monoxide. Though these options are rigorously tested before hitting the market, proper installation is also important to ensure the healthiest indoor air quality. 

More Efficient Fireplace Option #3: Electric Fireplaces

If you want instant heat that mimics the glow of a natural fire without the potential danger of contaminants such as carbon monoxide entering your home, you might consider opting for an electric fireplace. Like ventless gas fireplaces, electric fireplaces have a 100 percent heating efficiency. However, it is important to note that electric fireplaces may be slightly more expensive to operate than natural gas because of the current costs of electricity. 

Furthermore, electric fireplaces can essentially be “plugged in” to your existing household wiring. This means that you can install an electric fireplace in virtually any room in your home. If your back, guest bedroom gets cold on winter nights, a 100 percent efficient electric fireplace might be the best option for that room. 

More Efficient Fireplace Option #4 Efficient Wood inserts 

For homeowners who already have an inefficient wood-burning fireplace installed, is there a way to “upgrade” that option? Efficient wood inserts act as self-contained units that are placed directly inside an existing masonry fireplace. These inserts operate like a wood stove that is placed within your fireplace, and most units come with an adjustable thermostat. When properly installed, these efficient wood inserts have a 70-80 percent heating efficiency. This means that you will use less wood to heat your home while still being able to enjoy the natural charm of a wood-burning fireplace. There are also pellet burning inserts that are similar in function. 

More Efficient Fireplace Option #5 Direct Vent Gas Fireplaces

Lastly, direct vent gas fireplaces are another option that have an efficiency rating similar to the efficient wood inserts listed above. These gas fireplaces requires a chimney or vent, and generally achieve a 70 percent heating efficiency rating. Furthermore, because the chimney pulls out the excess carbon monoxide and other leftover contaminants from the combustion of the gas, this option is generally better for protecting your home´s indoor air quality. A quality direct vent gas fireplace can also be installed inside an existing wood-burning fireplace that you no longer use. 

Any one of these five options offers a fantastic and efficient way to heat up your home this winter!


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