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Lower Winter Heating Costs in 2016 with a Fireplace Upgrade

Gas FIreplace InsertSpringtime can be the best season for low utility costs, since the weather is mild. Spring is also an ideal season for thinking about cold weather to come and the cost to heat your home when it’s literally freezing outside.

Winter utilities in cold climates are always the highest because heating uses up the most electricity. For example, one heating element in an electric furnace burns electricity at approximately the rate of 80 60-watt light bulbs turned on simultaneously. In temperatures hovering right around freezing, utility costs for the heating unit alone are about $6 daily, which can bump up the cost of electricity by $150 per month.

If you have an open masonry fireplace, you probably already know it’s too inefficient as it is to help cut heating expenses. Fortunately, there are ways to convert your fireplace into a viable source of heat that will give you opportunities to shut off the central heating and still stay warm in winter.

Fireplace Insert

If you enjoy burning firewood in your masonry fireplace, the best cost-cutting heating solution for you is to have a fireplace insert installed. An insert is, in essence, an efficient wood stove but without the legs. The flames can still be enjoyed with a view through glass doors. It is often necessary to install a new chimney liner, so that the flue is the correct dimension for the appliance and is able to withstand more intense heat than was produced previously in the fireplace.

The efficiency ratings of EPA-approved wood-burning inserts range from 60% to 80%, and the ratings are designated by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Depending on the size of your fireplace insert and the amount of firewood you add to the fire, sufficient heat can be produced for areas as large as 3,000 square feet on the chilliest of winter days. For perspective, traditional masonry fireplaces have 10% efficiency ratings, at best.

Gas Inserts

When convenience has more appeal than the ambiance created by burning wood, a gas insert is the best way to upgrade a fireplace. The biggest expense may be running a gas line to the appliance. Turning on a gas fireplace could not be simpler. Simply flip a switch, adjust a thermostat, or use a remote control to get the flames started. Maintenance is also a breeze, since there are no ashes to clean up. Annual inspections are still very important, to ensure safety.

Pellet Inserts

pellet fireplace insertFor any homeowner interested in finding the most energy-efficient wood-burning solution, installing a pellet insert is the best way to upgrade a fireplace. The wood burned isn’t typical firewood, however. Pellet inserts are fueled by highly compacted pellets made of wood waste, such as sawdust and lumber that would otherwise be hauled to a dump. The innovative way pellet inserts operate is what creates enough heat to turn off the main furnace in the home. Pellet-burning appliances have efficiency ratings between 70% and 83%.

It’s essential to have a professional install your insert, so that the correct flue can be matched to the appliance and maximum efficiency of the insert is assured. Spring is a great time to prepare for winter by updating your fireplace with an insert.

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