Gas fireplaces are fast becoming one of the smartest investments a homeowner can make. They meet building standards of energy efficiency and eliminate many of the hazards associated with wood burning fireplaces.

Gas fireplaces come in a variety of styles and can be freestanding or customized with a hearth or trimmed to enhance the decor of the home. The flame turns on by a switch, or a hand-held remote. When the flame is turned off, the gas flow automatically stops. These systems have an efficient heat exchanger to capture heat from burning gas. That heat is radiated through durable ceramic glass that displays a very realistic flame. A thermostat, flame control and optional fan allow you to control the comfort level.

Venting

A pipe within a pipe system is used to vent the gas fireplace. One pipe draws in fresh outdoor air for burning, and the other sends exhaust directly outdoors. They can be installed through an outside wall or through the roof. Direct vent fireplaces are sealed combustion units which do not need a chimney or vertical flue, thus making them ideal for basements. A zero clearance fireplace can be vented through an inexpensive metal vent, and can be safely built to operate right against woodwork or wallboard. The venting systems are sealed so that heat is produced without creating sudden drafts, and no exhaust can enter the home.

Zone heating

Gas fireplaces are excellent for heating single rooms. Some units with built-in blowers, air passages and heat exchangers effectively supplement your home heating. Homeowners can expect to save as much as 35% on heating bills by practicing zone heating. Most basement heating vents are located on the ceiling or high on the walls, making the floors and lower areas of the room cold and uncomfortable. Residential furnaces are usually undersized for basements, and cannot effectively heat the lower part of the home. A gas fireplace can eliminate these problems and warm the basement to a comfortable level.

Cost

Gas fireplaces cost about 13 cents an hour (compared to electric heat which costs about 38 cents an hour). At a savings rate of 69%, they are economical to operate, and virtually eliminate heat loss through the chimney.  Freestanding units range from $2,000 to $3,000, depending on the model and cost to install. They can be placed virtually anywhere in the home, and come in many styles and colours.  Gas fireplace inserts range in price from $1,600 to $2,000, depending on the model and venting choices. Both the freestanding unit and the gas fireplace insert can be installed by the gas company and included in your monthly gas bill at a cost ranging from $30 to $50 per month.

Advantages of Gas Fireplaces

Natural gas fireplaces are much more cost efficient and environmentally safe. They produce far fewer pollutants than wood burning fireplaces or stoves, eliminate drafts, and increase the value of the home. With no wood to chop or store, no risk of embers or sparks escaping, the natural gas fire proves itself to be 100% cleaner than wood burning units.

If there is already a wood burning fireplace in a home, and you would like to convert to a gas unit, an insert can be installed. This can be done quickly and effectively and will be transformed from the wood burning model into an efficient source of natural gas.

Installation

All gas fireplaces must be installed by a licensed gas pipe fitter. Many manufacturers require that installers be trained through their companies. Some will not honour the warranty unless installation training has been successfully completed. Once the gas fireplace has been installed, it must be inspected by the gas company to ensure that it has been done according to municipal building codes.