Pros & Cons of Gas & Wood Fireplaces
With winter approaching, it’s time to think about how you and your family will keep the house warm. Many people rely on a furnace or electric heating system, but others supplement their heat with a natural gas or wood fireplace.
Each fireplace system has its strengths and weaknesses, which we look at in this article to help you decide which system is best for you, your budget, and your heating needs.
One of the most popular alternatives or supplemental heating systems is the wood fireplace, which has been a staple in homes worldwide for hundreds of years. Wood-burning fireplaces offer more than heat; they provide an atmosphere with the crackling sounds and burning wood smell you can’t get with other heating methods. For many homeowners, the aesthetic of a wood fireplace is just as important as the heat it produces.
Pros of a Wood-Burning Fireplace
As mentioned, you can’t beat the cozy atmosphere that comes from a roaring fire. Wood-burning fireplaces are beautiful centerpieces where people can gather around to share company or for a couple to spend a romantic evening.
No Power Needed
Unlike other heating systems — like electric — you can rely on your wood-burning fireplace if the electricity goes out. As long as you have wood available, you won’t ever be without a heat source, which is beneficial if you live in an area that experiences frequent blackouts from storms or extreme weather.
Wood-burning fireplaces are more cost-effective than electric or gas, especially if you can cut the firewood yourself. Also, burning a fire can reduce your reliance on other heating systems, lowering your energy expenses throughout the winter.
Cons of Wood-Burning Fireplaces
Maintenance & Cleanup
Wood-burning fireplaces require frequent maintenance and cleaning to keep them safe. The Chimney Safety Institute of America recommends annual cleaning and inspection to remove creosote buildup, the number one cause of chimney fires. The average homeowner doesn’t have the training or tools for proper chimney cleaning, so you must rely on a certified pro to do the job right.
Wood fireplaces are beautiful and nostalgic, but they’re not efficient at heating. The typical wood-burning fireplace converts only 15% of the wood’s energy to heat; the rest goes up the chimney. You can mitigate the energy loss by installing a fireplace insert, but that might not be enough for some homeowners.
Although beautiful, wood-burning fireplaces can be dangerous if you’re not careful and don’t keep your chimney clean. Burning a fire in your home will always come with some risk, no matter how many precautions you take.
Now, let’s look at gas fireplaces and see how they fare.
Gas fireplaces are modern inventions, having only been around for about a hundred years. However, the technology continues growing, making these systems the go-to choice for many homebuilders and buyers.
Pros of a Gas Fireplace
Unlike wood-burning fireplaces that can take a while to get a good fire going, gas fireplaces ignite with the flick of a switch or push of a button on a remote control. When you’re cold and want heat now, you don’t have to fiddle with a gas fireplace or deal with the hassle of lighting a fire.