Fireplaces and Central Heating

January 23, 2023

Staying warm during the winter months is important, but there are different ways that you can accomplish this in your home. Fireplaces and central heating are just two methods to maintain a cozy home. How do you know which one to use, and what are the different aspects of these heating options to consider?

Couple in wool socks lying by the burning fireplace in a cozy house

Gas Central Heating VS Electric

When the temperature inside of your home falls below the temperature that you have set on your thermostat, your HVAC system kicks in and starts up your furnace in order to provide more heated air. The forced-air heating system in your home can run off of electricity or gas, and there are pros and cons to both.

A gas furnace will receive a signal from your thermostat and then ignite a pilot light on your furnace’s main burner. That burner then heats air passing through your HVAC system and pushes it back out into the different living space areas of your home. An electric furnace is very similar, however electrical ignition is what starts up the ignition system.

Young couple on a couch with coffees next to a fireplace

HVAC Efficiency

Efficiency is important because not only does it determine how quickly your home will be warmed up, but it can also impact the cost of your utility bills each month. In regard to heating your home quickly, you will get hotter temperatures in a shorter amount of time when you have a gas furnace. If you live somewhere that’s very cold in the winter, it’s likely that gas furnaces are the standard. A wood-burning fireplace can be very pretty and cozy, but efficiency isn’t really a selling point because of heat loss potential. By using less energy by way of a gas furnace to heat your indoor air, you may find that you’re saving on your utility costs. Natural gas costs right now are quite affordable in comparison to electricity costs, which have been going up for a number of years now.

Fireplace Efficiency

A hearth and chimney actually require a lot of maintenance and care in order for them to look nice but also function safely and efficiently. If you’re not keeping up with professional routine maintenance, this can dramatically boost your energy costs during the winter. Burning firewood in a hearth tends to be a very inefficient form of heat because of the damper. If it’s not properly sealed or closed when it should be, this can increase your energy usage by as much as 30 percent yearly (according to the US Department of Energy). Also, a large portion of the heat that’s produced goes up the chimney instead of moving into your home. You’re probably spending quite a bit of money on good quality firewood, only to have it go to waste.

smoke from a chimney on the roof

Using Both a Fireplace and Central Heating System Together

The majority of homes that are equipped with a fireplace also have a central HVAC unit installed with central heat. This is so you can burn firewood when you want to, but you still have the convenience of an HVAC system ready to go when you want your home to be automatically heated to a specific temperature in the winter. We know that a few burning logs looks great in your home and really adds to the ambiance of a room, but it’s also important to utilize your central heating system to prevent energy loss and maintain a consistent temperature throughout your entire home.

The most efficient way of heating your home if you will be burning firewood is using both your central heating system and your fireplace together. A furnace will promote more consistent and warm air throughout the home, while a fireplace can help keep one area super toasty. While some of that heat from the fireplace will transfer to other rooms, you’ll be able to rely on your furnace to keep temperatures at a minimum level throughout your home.

Some tips for using both heat sources together include:
-Don’t rely on your burning firewood completely. It should be an occasional method of heat on a very chilly day or when you want to add to the ambiance and coziness of a space.

-Don’t turn off your central heating system entirely when you are also burning firewood. You have the option of turning down your interior temperature if desired but leave it running to help circulate the air.

-Keep up on routine maintenance for both your fireplace and your HVAC system. This will ensure everything is running smoothly and efficiently for the long winter ahead.

Man lowering the temperature on his smart thermostat due to also having a fire in the fireplace

If you’re trying to determine whether you would prefer a gas or electric furnace as a heat source for your home as well as considering the use of a fireplace, we here at Kelleher encourage you to pick out your logs and leave the rest of the installation process to our staff. We’ll make sure that you’re equipped with everything that you need to keep your home warm and comfortable this coming winter. We have been building a reputation in the Richmond area for over four decades now, and we pride ourselves on maintaining high-quality home comfort systems. Let our family help your family with your home comfort needs.