Did you know your fireplace, stove or insert – gas, pellet or wood – could have the ability to heat your whole home? It’s true! Fireplaces are beyond being just basement heaters or only having the heating output to warm your living room. With some planning and work, you could install a highly efficient wood burning appliance that gives you the aesthetic appeal of a fireplace with the practicality of a heating system for your home. Imagine, even during the coldest months of the year, turning your furnace down and only using the radiant heat from your fireplace to heat your home. Here are some things to consider.
Building and fire codes can differ region to region, so it is important you understand what your local codes cite with regards to wood burning and installation of a wood burning appliance before you move ahead with purchasing. There can be specifications on wall clearance, pipe diameters and extensions above the roof that dictate how your unit should be installed. It is always recommended you work with a local installer to make sure you are following your local codes.
The appliance needs to be sized appropriately to suit the size of your home and the type of use you expect from it. Whether you would like your unit to heat your living room occasionally or your whole home on a daily basis will change the size of the firebox and heat output you require. Specialty hearth retailers are experts at finding you the right appliance for your home based on square footage and your use patterns.
If you wish to use your hearth appliance to heat your whole home, it is best to have an open concept main floor where the unit can be installed in a central location. Hot air rises, so the warm air will naturally make its way to the upstairs of the home where the bedrooms are located. The basement will stay a bit cooler than the upper levels of the home, but with proper air circulation, warm air will still find its way downstairs. Of course, to ensure you have minimal heat loss, a well sealed and insulated home is important.
To effectively heat your home with a fireplace or wood stove, it’s important to ensure adequate air circulation to disperse the heat. A great option for open concept homes is to turn the fan on for your forced air heating system to circulate the air and heat from your fireplace. The heat loss to vents will be unnoticeable. Ceiling fans set to reverse pull air up to the ceiling, forcing the warm air that collects at the top of the room to circulate downwards. Minor home renovations can be made to add ducting and vents into the rooms above to distribute the heat to upper levels of the home.
Depending on the configuration of your home, it may be difficult to disperse the heat from your fireplace or stove effectively to all spaces of your home. Keep in mind that even turning your thermostat down during the day and letting your appliance heat the main areas of your home, and turning the thermostat up in the evenings to heat your bedrooms will still considerably reduce your reliance on your furnace, thereby reduce your energy bill.
The airtightness of your home is always something to be aware of when you are discussing home heating, regardless of your heating source. Increasing your home’s airtightness can have a dramatic impact on how much energy your home requires to maintain comfortable temperatures during the winter months.