If you lament the days of yore when people sat around their fireplaces, reading poetry and sipping hot cocoa in the peaceful winter night, and wish for a return to the peace and tranquility that calls to mind, try heating with a fireplace sometime. They are notoriously inefficient; romantic, yes; beautiful, sure; a good source of heat for a home? No. Most fireplaces older than 15 years have only 5 to 10 percent efficiency, and on very cold nights, they actually suck in more warm air from the room and expel it out the chimney. To get warm, you'd need to be very close to the fire, and then your backside would be cold. This is why fireplace inserts were invented. If you have a fireplace, inserts will help boost efficiency and save you untold time. If you want your backside to be warm, too, an insert for your wood, electric, or gas fireplaces is a must.
What Is a Fireplace Insert? - Gas, electric, and wood burning fireplace inserts are fireproof boxes. Around the box itself is steel or cast iron and an insulated glass front. This creates a "closed combustion system," which uses only outside air for combustion and vents the gases directly outside. The heavy cast iron or steel traps the heat, improving efficiency. Fireplace inserts with blower are even more effective because they push the hot air back into the room through vents. This allows you to heat a room or rooms with your fireplace instead of just a few feet in front of it. You don't have to give up the ambience created by a fireplace; instead, modifying it can provide great benefits, and most importantly, warmth. You can browse the best selling fireplace inserts here.
Electric Fireplace Inserts:
You can find gas, electric, and wood fireplace inserts, and your decision depends on many factors, including your preference, whether you have access to propane or natural gas, your budget, safety and time considerations, and ease of use. The easiest to use are electric fireplace inserts, which can be used even if you don't have a fireplace! You can find models that are designed to fit permanently into the wall - you can always purchase a mantel for the real fireplace look. Other benefits of electric fireplace inserts include:
*Ventless and very easy to install
*Cost about 2 cents per hour with flame, and 7 cents per hour with flame and heater.
*Safer for children because there are no hot surfaces.
*Easy and quick - and no fire-building skills necessary.
Buzzillion, Amazon, MySears, Epinions, and ReviewStream give high marks to the affordable Dimplex DF12309. This 1500-watt electric insert measures 10-4/5 by 23-1/5 by 19-4/5 inches, making it perfect for small rooms and homes. It features a built-in fan-forced heater for even, quiet heat distribution, full heat, half heat, or flame only settings, and remote control. Besides the price, consumers really liked the ease and the convenience. Many loved being able to have a "fireplace" in an apartment or where there is no existing fireplace. Check out the Dimplex line of electric fire place inserts here.
Gas Fireplace Inserts:
Gas fireplace inserts are more pricy than their electric counterparts, but they may be worth it in the long term because of the energy savings. These fireplace inserts are 76 to 83 percent efficient - compared to 5 to 10 percent for a fireplace! They typically cost from $1400 to $3500, but they can reduce your gas bill. Another cost comes with installation; these need to be installed by a professional because they involve connecting to your gas line. . The ceramic logs look fairly realistic and are vented. If your gas insert has a blower, you will need to plug it in. Besides their efficiency, gas fireplace inserts are great because they burn so cleanly, which eliminates the need to clean your chimney. It also makes carbon monoxide a risk; make sure you have a detector to protect yourself and your family.
Big names in the gas fireplace inserts world are Napoleon, Lennox Hearth, Copperfield, and Majestic. Browse the top rated gas fireplace inserts here. A popular choice is the Napoleon GI3016N, which features a durable cast iron build, 76 percent efficiency and heating up to 30,000 BTUs, flame and heat adjustment, heat-activated blower system, variable speed control, high-temperature ceramic glass, ceramic fiber molded Phazer logs, easy to install and operate, and is approved for use in bedrooms, sitting rooms, and bathrooms. You can find the GI3016N for just under $1400. Look for other top gas fireplace inserts at Lowes, Home Depot or your local fireplace store.
Wood Fireplace Inserts:
If you love the look, feel, and smell of wood with your fire, you can opt for wood fireplace inserts. Installing these inserts will improve efficiency to about 50 percent and will reduce wood consumption. Wood fireplace inserts need to be EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) approved, and the EPA requires a connection between the insert and the flue liner or one that runs all the way up the chimney to reduce fire risk and the release of creosote. These inserts can throw a great amount of heat - from 65,000 to 85,000 BTUs - and will run from 6 to 8 hours when fully loaded. There is one drawback, though: you'll have to tend to your fire by hauling in firewood, cleaning up ashes, making sure your chimney is cleaned, and keeping the hungry fire fed.
Napoleon is a name you'll see again in wood fireplace inserts, as well as Regency. The Regency Classic I2400 is a great choice for medium-sized rooms, featuring 75,000 BTUs and a burn time of up to 8 hours. It offers 77 percent efficiency and will fit a standard or oversized fireplace. The I2400 has a dual-burn design, heat-radiating ceramic glass, cast iron door with cool touch handle, EPA certified, automatic blower, and a comprehensive limited lifetime warranty. The Regency Classic even has a cook-top surface. If the power goes out, you have heat and even hot food. This is the benefit of real fire. Stoves of this caliber can cost from $3000 to $5000.
Tax Credit for Fireplace Inserts:
While the cost of fireplace inserts may be high, the energy savings do help make it more cost-efficient. A tax credit can help, too. If you purchase fireplace inserts that have at least a 75 percent efficiency rating from the manufacturer, you can receive a federal tax credit for 30 percent of the cost up to $1500. This can help take a lot of the bite out of the price tag.
A roaring fireplace is cozy and inviting; and with the best fireplace inserts, they are affordable, efficient, and toasty warm.