Your utility bills are on the rise. And like every homeowner across the Front Range, you’re looking for ways to curb your costs.
You love the looks of your gas fireplace. You enjoy the heat as you sit nearby. But how efficient is a gas fireplace? Does it cost you a bundle to run?
To determine the expense, you have to look at two things: the type of fireplace you have, and the type of gas you’re burning.
There are two types of gas fireplaces: decorative and heat producing.
Decorative are usually referred to as gas logs and are designed to fit into existing masonry fireplaces. These gas logs give you a large flame which looks just like a real wood fire. But in most cases, the heat they produce goes up the flue, exactly like a wood burning fireplace does. Decorative logs will feel warm if you stand in front of them, but usually lose their heat source quickly as it’s projected out. They are the least efficient, which tends to be at 25 percent or lower.
Heat producing units are either gas inserts or gas fireplaces. A gas insert is a metal box which is installed into your masonry fireplace. A gas fireplace is built around new construction, and there is no masonry chimney. Both are metal boxes with solid glass front panels that do not open and have a pipe that either goes out to the side of the house or up through the roof. The glass gets extremely hot and radiates a tremendous amount of heat back into the room. In many cases, these inserts also come with fans that will force the heated air back into the room. They usually are anywhere from 65 to 85 percent efficient.
There are two ways to heat a gas fireplace: natural gas or propane.
Natural gas appliances are calculated using BTU per hour, with 100,000 BTUs in a Therm. Propane appliances have about 91,500 BTUs in a gallon. How much you spend is determined by the current cost of natural gas and propane, which fluctuates all the time.
One final note for consideration. If a gas fireplace has a standing pilot, it is using about 1,000 BTUs per hour to keep the pilot light going. That means your fireplace is costing you money even when not in use. Newer units tend to have electronic ignition, so there is no standing pilot on when not in use.
Are you ready to convert to a gas fireplace?