Warm up your home (and the bottom line) with a fireplace
For many of us in the Pacific Northwest, getting comfy in front of the fireplace is one of the best parts of winter. As the temperatures dip below freezing, the winds howl, and rain, sleet and snow fall from the sky, grabbing a blanket and a hot apple cider and basking in the glow of a warm fire makes for the perfect evening.
But, what if your home doesn’t have a fireplace? Is the idyllic scene above enough reason to incur the cost of adding a fireplace? If not, consider the study by the National Association of Realtors in 2013 that discovered many homebuyers not only seek homes that have a fireplace, but are willing to pay extra for one.
Being able to ask for a few thousand more when it comes time to sell your home makes the hot cocoa a little bit sweeter, doesn’t it? But what kind of fireplace should you consider: wood-burning, gas or electric?
Filling the room with warmth and the comforting crackle, a wood-burning fireplace is the traditional choice. As far as ambiance is concerned, it’s hard to beat a wood fireplace – even chopping the wood and constructing the fire has a certain amount of charm.
It comes at a price, though. If there isn’t an existing way to vent the smoke, adding a chimney is an additional cost. In a single story home, this isn’t a huge issue, but it can be problematic in a home with a second story. The chimney will need to be kept clean and ashes from past fires will need to be removed occasionally. And braving the cold weather to chop more wood on a weekly basis may be tiring.
Still, the sights, sounds and smells of burning wood are tough to beat. And, depending on where you live, the supply of logs is a pretty cheap way to go help heat the room.
As far as initial installation goes, gas fireplaces are much simpler than wood burning. While a vent is needed, it can be installed in the wall behind the fireplace, instead of through the roof. A gas line will need to be fed to the unit as well, but can be tied to an existing line or brought in to the home near the vent.
Instead of wood, kindling and crumpled up paper, starting a gas fireplace is as easy as flipping a switch. Newer gas fireplaces try their best to mimic the look of a wood-burning fireplace, down to the “charred” logs and glowing embers. The heat is also very comparable to that of a wood fireplace.
However, the overall feel isn’t quite comparable to wood and the gas bill will get a little bit bigger every month you use it. On the plus side, no ashes to clean up and no braving the snow to get more wood!
The easiest and cheapest way to add a fireplace to your home is a free-standing electric model. Needing only an outlet, an electric fireplace will give off heat and come in many different styles. There is no need for construction of any kind, just plug in and enjoy.
An electric fireplace doesn’t have the same enchantment of a wood fireplace and may not match the look of more grandiose gas fireplaces. But in smaller areas, it may be the perfect fit.
No matter which style makes the most sense for your situation, a fireplace will create the perfect environment on those cold winter nights. And they can even help get your house sold down the road, too!