Q&A Fireplace that is not Energy Waster

QandA Posted By QandA, Sep 20, 2004 at 2:20 PM

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  1. QandA

    New Member 2.
    Staff Member

    Nov 27, 2012

    It appears you give some good no nonsense advice (ie no sales pitches)- so I hope you can steer us in the right direction.Bought a two-year old house and we want to put in a fireplace (sounds easy enough- or so we thought). Began doing the rounds.. talking to fireplace (masonry) contractors and then onward to fireplace inserts (zero clearance types.)We live in NH (cold- snowy winters) and can't get a straight answer from the salesmen on the pros and cons of the two.... we know one is an energy sucker...so we are leaning toward the zero clearance inserts... No one seems to have a negative thing to say about them... there must me some downside- although none of the salesmen are willing(?) to talk.


    Most open masonry and pre-fab fireplaces are energy wasters- unless you buy a specific upscale efficient model. Here's the downfall of most fireplaces:
    1. Masonry - Since most are located on the outside of the home..they "wick" cold thru the brick back into the home when not in use. They also transfer much of the heat from the burning fire outside. As if that was not enough- the large flues such the air in your home (that you already paid to heat) into the great outdoors
    .2. pre-fab - Many of these are cheap- sheet metal "builder boxes"- which have little or no insulation against the cold air outside..most are "air cooled" which works well- so well that they can be like an icebox when you are not using them. They probably still use less wood than many masonry fireplaces.Also- some people we know with these inserts have blowers- and some don't... some have the gizmo that draws in exterior air (can't remember the name of it) and some don't.. What are the pros and cons of these accessories.. and do we need them.Outside air and blowers are good- but on certain units they don't do much. The unit must be designed as a "heating machine". There are also efficient masonry designs- such as the Rumford fireplace (www.rumford.com)- but the masons that know how to build them right are few and far between.

    If you have the bucks....A number of the merchants on our Products Page make high efficiency built-in units...one that I have good experience with is the Fireplace Xtrordinair - see link below.

    Link: Fireplace Xtrordinair...by Travis Industries
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