Ask the Expert: A Fireplace at Your Place

Labor Day is over, cooler weather is on its way, and that means thoughts are turning toward fall and fireplaces. Whether you have questions about wood-burning, gas-burning or anything else hearth-and-home energy related, our friends at Ashwood Hearth & Home Energy Center are happy to share the answers. The heat is on.

The Question: What should I consider when choosing a fireplace to heat my home?

The Experts from Ashwood Hearth & Home Energy Say:

Direct Vented fireplaces can be installed almost anywhere in your home as they don’t require a pre-existing chimney to vent them. They can be built into a combustible surrounding.

•The size of the fireplace and the amount of space it will take up in your room.

•Basements are normally colder and therefore heat output and appearance are both important.

•The size of the room . High heat-output models will heat a small room quickly but may, as a result, be turned off more frequently than a lower-output unit.

The Question: How much fuel do fireplaces consume, and how much do they cost to operate?

This is easily calculated provided that you have the local price of fuel to be used. 1 cubic foot of natural gas will produce*1000 BTU per hour, 1 liter of propane will produce *29,059 BTU per hour and 1 US gallon will produce*110,000 BTU per hour. (*values may vary slightly, depending on location) The BTU of the fireplace is divided by the BTU value of the fuel to determine the amount of fuel consumed per hour.

Example: A natural gas fireplace that has an input of 30,000 BTU per hour consumes 30,000/1000 = 30 cubic feet/hour. If the price of natural gas is 0.35 cents per cubic foot then 30 cubic feet x .35 = 10.5 cents. Therefore the cost of operating a 30,000 BTU natural gas fireplace for one hour is 10.5 cents.

BTU’s (British Thermal Units) are a standard of measurement that represents the heat value of any type of energy used to create heat. The amount of fuel that a fireplace will consume per hour is calculated with the value of the fuel it uses to determine the input of that fireplace BTU values of any type of energy are determined by the actual amount of heat required to increase the temperature of one pound of water, by one degree Fahrenheit.

Have your own questions about a fireplace or home-heating? You can contact Ashwood Hearth & Home Energy Center at (631) 569-4515 or You may even see your question answered right here at Ask the Expert.


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