A Comparison of Eco-Friendly Fireplaces

Close up of a person holding a remote for an electric fireplace

As the world races to find solutions to make their lifestyles compatible with their growing concern with climate change, consumers of fireplaces have started to make eco-friendly units popular. But with so many great technologies now, which type is best? Wood, Gas, Pellets, and Electric all have advantages and disadvantages that should affect the decision. The Fireplace and More Store looks into it.

Electric Fireplace Considerations

Electric heat has a 100 percent heat conversion rating and produces zero emissions, which makes it the front runner in the quest for an eco-friendly fireplace. It is worth pointing out, though, that over 60 percent of the fuel used to create that electricity is fossil fuels, usually coal. Electric units also typically produce less heat, thereby requiring additional fuel from the main heat source, like a gas furnace. An electric unit has significant advantages with placement, installation, versatility, and cost, making it a fantastic choice for people with poor location options for flues and hearths required by other systems, and people wanting superior safety and low maintenance. Knowing that electric fireplaces have these advantages, while also having zero emissions, you can see why electric units are a burgeoning class of eco-friendly fireplaces.  

Wood Fireplace Considerations

We all know that traditional Wood fireplaces are less efficient than many of the newer systems. The good news is that advancements have greatly reduced the environmental impact. If a homeowner doesn’t use the system heavily, the impact is reduced as well. There are also other variables to consider: What type of wood? How dry is it? If using an insert, how efficient is it? How was the wood harvested, like deforestation or removal of fallen trees near the home? Are you trying to replace a significant portion of the main heat source, or just a room? And many more. While the eco-friendliness of wood burning fireplaces may not be where you want it to be, the charm, feel, and aesthetics may overpower the environmental shortcomings and end up being the perfect fit. After all, what good is a fireplace if you don’t want to use it? 

Pellet Systems Considerations

Many environmental experts like the Pellet options for heating, because Pellet systems have low emissions. They also largely use salvaged fuel and in small amounts. Pellet fuel is most commonly made from the sawdust of other wood processing. This is waste that would otherwise take fossil fuel to transport away or produce exhaust from burning. So, not only does Pellet fuel burn fairly cleanly, it also helps remove energy-costing waste. Since this technology and Electric are the leading eco-friendly alternatives in our comparison, head to head is an interesting match up. If a home is located in the area serviced by an electric company burning coal, Pellet fuel deserves to be considered. It’s not as convenient as Electric (or Gas), but if the electricity for the Electric fireplace system is burning fossil fuels, many would suggest the Pellet system. 

Gas Fireplace Considerations

Like the Pellet systems, Gas fireplaces produce a lot of heat that can take a  load off the main HVAC system. The efficacy of this depends on many factors, but in general, homes with inefficient furnaces may do well to give some of the burden to a high efficiency Gas system. With an efficiency rating at around 70 percent on average, it’s not as eco-friendly as Electric, but the numbers are similar to the Pellet systems. The advantage Gas has is the convenience and low maintenance. Pellet has the environmental edge that it’s not using non-renewable resources and actually reduces waste of the renewable resources. Gas systems are best sellers and have an excellent resale value in a home. They do well at mimicking the traditional feel and aesthetics of a Wood fireplace, but add the efficiency and convenience of modern technology. 




Eco-friendly Pros

Eco-friendly Cons

Electric

Zero Emissions


100 Percent Heat Conversion


Still Often Uses Fossil Fuels in Production


Wood

Uses a Renewable Resource


Least Efficient


Releases More Toxins and Gases 


Adds to Deforestation

Pellet

Consumes the Waste of Other Processes


Low Emissions


Uses a Renewable Resource

Efficiency Rating at an Average of 70 Percent 



Gas

Significantly Reduces the Consumption of HVAC System


Low Emissions

Burns Fossil Fuel


Efficiency Rating at an Average of 70 percent


We’re so thankful to have great options for zone heating. While each of these four fireplace system types have their advantages, we can’t escape the value a fireplace adds to a home. Even if we set aside the obvious benefits, like the return on investment, aesthetics, and the treasure of radiant heat, we are left with excellent options to reduce the fuel consumption of a central system. We would love to talk to you about more specifics of each model and our high-efficiency models that beat those average numbers. Contact us when you’re ready to buy, dream, or simply have questions!  

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2009 Stephens Blvd.
Joplin, MO 64804

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