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'Tis the Season for Fireplaces

Fall is such an amazing time of the year. The leaves are changing and the weather is rather unpredictable. One day the temperature high for the day is 50 degrees Fahrenheit and the next it is in the 70s. On those cold days, the fireplace can be so cozy. In the winter, a fireplace is a necessity at my house. Not only because they can be so cozy but from a financial standpoint too. Propane prices brought my heating bills to about $2k in two months when we first moved into our house. Needless to say, we started planning and prioritizing a fireplace.

So, let’s say you decide you want a fireplace. There are three types we will discuss both in functionality and design. Next week, we will go into how we incorporate these in the design. The three types of fireplaces are electric, gas, and wood-burning. There is no one size fits all. I spoke to a representative from a local fireplace store, Kozy Heat, to make sure everything in here is accurate according to those in the trade.

1. Electric Fireplaces

A few pros to an electric fireplace is the initial affordability and versatility to install wherever you determine to be the ideal place from a design standpoint. These are very convenient in just turning on a button and, aside from the occasional dusting, require zero maintenance.

While there are electric fireplaces that do certainly heat the space, these are more for beauty than functionality. Consider these more of a beautiful space heater than something that will heat a larger space. The lifespan on these is typically shorter than gas or wood burning but should last longer than your last cell phone. The other thing to consider is if you are wanting a backup plan for heat if your power goes out… you will be old if the power goes out and you are solely relying on electric.

Many opt for this one simply for the beauty, simplicity and convenience. If you are looking for a more long term relationship or something that’ll really heat up the space, opt out of this kind.

2. Gas Fireplaces

All in all, gas fireplaces are a great midrange option. These work when the power goes out, so you have a backup plan for heat. Additionally, the flames do provide a lovely ambiance. Between that and the convenience, these are especially desired by contractors when building houses or people renovating to flip houses. However, costs of gas changes so it is difficult to tell whether it would be more affordable for running than the other types or how long the affordability will last and that should be taken into consideration.

Keep in mind that whenever you first turn on the fireplace for the season, you’ll probably notice a gas smell. Turning your heat on for the first time, there is an obvious smell that fades as it runs. I suggest running it for a few minutes on a cool day where you can air out the house at the same time. You may want just the beauty gas fireplaces provide or convenience to basically press a button to turn on. While there is a little maintenance recommended, it is nothing more than a small nuisance.

These have become increasingly popular over the past decade. Even “beginner” homes are including gas fireplaces. If you accept that the gas prices could be at times astronomical, the convenience and heating backup of this fireplace could be ideal for you.

3. Wood burning Fireplaces

Ah the wood burning fireplace. I may be a little biased on this one. I absolutely love the smell of the wood burning. We have have one and are still learning tips and tricks. For example, we found that we need to be cognizant of the temperature throughout the day as it can get too hot if the sun warms the house enough.

Wood burning fireplaces can provide a low cost to heat your house if you are willing to put in the work to chop firewood. Alternatively, depending on where you live, there is usually someone selling firewood so you don’t have to chop it yourself. I live in an area where there is an abundance of trees and I don’t have a problem finding firewood. This is something you have to weigh in your decision and obviously requires more planning than electrical or gas fireplaces.

Secondly, this type of fireplace requires a bit more to learn than the others. We need to learn how to start fires safely, how to handle smoke, how to clean a fireplace, how to know when wood is seasoned – or even what is seasoned wood? A lot of learning curve with this fireplace. Did you know that “wet” wood can actually cause chimney fires. Chimney fires usually burn themselves out when you have a decent chimney, but there is still a risk of the house fire.

I know, I know. I just said house fires and now you are panicking. Truth is we will probably all experience wet wood and our houses are not likely to burn down. The main thing is here to get your fireplace checked annually. Wet wood burns really hot and causes buildup in your chimney that can ignite. Chimney sweeps are key and you can pay your local fireplace company to check out and clean your fireplace.

This fireplace has significant costs in the beginning. There are regulations you must follow – much more than gas. The annual maintenance should not be ignored. The regular cleaning of ashes and cleaning the doors of the insert (highly recommend inserts for best heat displacement) are time consuming. However, if you can get wood, you can stay warm for the winter. And if something needs replacing – like a brick – the replacement costs should be pretty minimal and dare I say rare.

If you are looking for a long term commitment, functional heat, wonderful ambiance AND you don’t mind the maintenance, this could be the fireplace type for you. I personally LOVE this fireplace. My husband does most of the wood chopping (let’s say 99.5%) though so I am pretty lucky.

I have been clear on what fireplace type I prefer for my family. BUT we don’t mind the time to chop or find wood and we don’t mind the maintenance. Those are the biggest negatives to this type of fireplace. Many go for installing a gas fireplace. The functionality is there if they need it, but there is beauty in it as a focal point even when not in use. Of course, if you want that beautiful space heater you could go for the electric. I know a few people who have done this and are pleased. It absolutely depends on your personal situation. All of them can look beautiful, so it depends almost entirely on functionality and your specific house.

Let your designer know what kind of lifestyle you lead. Designers will listen to YOU and help you find what works best for YOU. Your designer should also make sure you understand why he/she believes that works best for you.

Did you find this article interesting? Want us to help you make your space Beautifully Done? Have an idea for another article? Email me at

And for all of you readers in Northwest Arkansas, check out Kozy Heat in Northwest Arkansas for your heating needs I have personally used them and can attest to their wonderful customer service.

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