Unless you really enjoy snow-related activities, winter is pretty terrible. One of the small consolations to this seemingly endless season is the feeling of curling up in front of a nice fire on a cold winter’s day.
According to Realtor.com, fireplaces are actually a very popular selling point for new home buyers, regardless of whether they’ll be used. They’re very aesthetically pleasing and the mantle is a great place to display family photos and accomplishments.
But if you live in a colder climate, your fireplace might be used for heat generation, in addition to humblebrags and senior portraits. Therefore, what your fireplace uses as fuel is probably important to you.
Most home fireplaces are either wood-fired or use natural gas, though there are some alternatives. Let’s examine the pros and cons of each in a few important categories:
Difficulty of Use
A gas fireplace is as easy as flipping a switch. Boom. Instantaneous fire.
Wood-fueled fireplaces require a lot more effort to get going. First you have to get the wood, then you have to arrange it a certain way, get kindling, start the fire and then maintain it. A wood-fueled fire is like a living organism that needs to be created and sustained. That’s great if you want the satisfaction of building something. But if you’re cold or just want a fireplace to look at, choose gas.
Sure, you can buy firewood from a hardware or home improvement store. Or, you can just walk into the middle of the woods, chop down a tree and use that for fuel. It’s a lot more difficult to produce your own natural gas, unless you’re eating a lot of beans, and you don’t want to power a fireplace with that kind of natural gas. Natural gas isn’t expensive, relatively, but it’s more expensive than free or the cost of a few logs.
The aftermath of a wood-fueled fire is not fun to clean. The soot, ash and burned-out logs are messy and spread very easily. Creosote, a byproduct of wood-fueled fires can build up in your chimney and need to be removed by a professional. If you don’t regularly maintain your chimney when you have a wood-fueled fireplace, you risk a chimney fire.
Gas fireplaces are as easy to maintain as they are to operate. No messy cleanup and no sweeping are necessary, though you might want to have a professional look at it every once in a while.
Granted, gas log fireplaces are as easy to use as opening a valve, but something’s missing. Sure, it generates heat and looks like a “traditional” fireplace, but it’s just not the same experience. Where’s the snap and crackle of the logs as they heat up? Where’s the intoxicating aroma of a wood fire? As far as the experience goes, a wood fireplace is the only fireplace in my book.
On paper, it may appear as though it’s a split decision between wood and gas. But in practice, the benefits of a gas fireplace far outweigh the ambiance and free fuel.
If you’re a casual fireplace user that just wants to turn it on a couple times per year for family photos or a romantic evening, gas is the way to go.
What do you think? The natural charm of wood, or the convenience of gas? Tell us in the comments!