If you're considering having a custom fireplace installed in new residential construction, you may be wondering if a wood-burning fireplace is your best bet or if you should explore other options. If you aren't completely sold on using wood, consider a natural gas fireplace instead. Following are four good reasons why natural gas may be the best fireplace choice for you.
You Won't Need a Woodpile
Wood-burning fireplaces require that you maintain an outdoor woodpile. However, you need to keep your woodpile at least 30 feet from your home in order to keep insect pests that may be present in the wood from invading your indoor living space. Woodpiles might also harbor rodents. Another consideration is seasonal wildfires -- having a woodpile stacked against your exterior walls or otherwise close to your home is not recommended if you want to minimize the chances of your home being damaged by fire. Also, today's smaller lots mean less available space for storing wood, and many homeowners don't want to sacrifice recreational or garden space for wood storage purposes. There is also the potential for the wood to be stolen from your property.
Natural Gas Fires Don't Create Sparks
Those pleasant snap-crackle-and-pop sounds that help create the cozy appeal also pose potential dangers to both the interior and exterior of your home. Sparks might fly when you're adding wood or stirring the fire, especially if you're using wood that contains a high pitch content such as fir, pine, or spruce. Many homeowners with wood-burning fireplaces tend to stack firestarter such as newspapers close by, and a stray spark landing on these can result in an almost instant major indoor fire. Live sparks are also carried up through chimneys where they can possibly land on roofing, trees, or other flammable objects. Households with active children in residence in particular should understand the dangers of sparks created by burning wood in a fireplace.
Gas Fireplaces Are Energy Efficient
Although wood fires burn extremely hot, most of that heat goes up the chimney rather than being dispersed into interior living spaces, which can leave homeowners overly dependent on other heat sources. The hot air rising from the chimney from the fire also pulls other warm interior air along with it, which is one of the reasons why homes that are heated solely with traditional wood fireplaces are often cold and drafty everywhere but right before the fire. Many people consider the main advantage to traditional wood burning fireplaces to be aesthetic value, but if you're in the market for good performance, gas is the way to go. The typical wood-burning fireplaces only has a 15 percent energy efficiency rating, while their natural gas burning counterparts have an energy efficient rating of between 75 and 99 percent. Gas fireplaces are also usually equipped with blowers that work to distribute hot air evenly throughout your indoor living environment.
Natural Gas Prices Are Low
Firewood prices vary wildly depending on location, and if you're lucky enough to live in an area near a state or national park where you can salvage firewood for the cost of a permit and your time and labor, you might be able to enjoy significant savings on heating bills -- especially if you live in an area that enjoys a mild winter climate. But in many parts of the country, firewood prices are rising while natural gas remains cheap, and most modern homeowners don't have the time, inclination, or extra energy to source, cut, and haul their own firewood after dealing with work and family obligations.
As an added bonus, you'll be able to use your natural gas fireplace at any time you choose. Homeowners with wood burning fireplaces are increasingly limited by local laws and ordinances concerning the use of wood burning appliances.
For more information about installing a gas fireplace, check out websites like http://www.alpinefireplaces.com.