Do you have a log-burning fireplace — and a furnace? Which heating option is the best choice to warm your home? If you need to schedule a heating installation service and aren't sure how your existing fireplace impacts the options, take a look at the questions to ask.
What Interior Areas Do You Want to Heat?
A fireplace provides a cozy sense of warmth to the immediate area. But what happens if you want to heat more than just the immediate space? If you're not sure whether to use your central heating system or turn it off in favor of a fireplace, consider the following:
- The number of fireplaces. Some homes have multiple fireplaces in different rooms. If you have a fireplace in the living room, family room, bedroom, and any other similar space, you may not need to turn up the central heating system.
- The rooms you use. Is there a fireplace in every room you regularly use? If not, you need central heating to keep your home warm during the winter months.
- The amount of time you spend in each space. Do you spend more time in one interior than any other? If the fireplace isn't near this space, you'll need another source (such as a central furnace) for effective home heating.
Even though you may have a fireplace in each area you want to heat, it's not always practical to use this method 24/7. Without a consistent heat source (one that operates at all times of the day and night), your home may have uncomfortable cold spots.
Which Heat Source Is More Energy Efficient?
You reviewed your home heating needs and now know that you want to warm more than just one or a few rooms. In general, a central system is more efficient at heating a whole home. But if you're not sure whether your fireplace or a furnace is truly the most energy-efficient (and cost-effective) option, factor in the following:
- Heat loss. Does more heat go out the chimney than into your home? Chimney-related heat losses can make a fireplace an inefficient and costly option.
- Heating range. How far does the fireplace's heat extend into your home? A central heating system can typically cover more space than one fireplace. This can make the furnace a more efficient choice — especially if you need to constantly add expensive wood to your fire.
- The furnace's efficiency rating. The annual fuel utilization efficiency (or AFUE) percentage measures how much fuel your furnace turns into usable home heat. The higher the AFUE, the less heat loss your home has — and the more efficient your furnace is.
According to the U.S. Department of Energy, new electric furnaces have an AFUE between 95 and 100 percent. If a fireplace isn't the most efficient option, and you're ready to install a new furnace, ask the contractor about high AFUE selections.
For more information, contact a heating installation service in your area.