Fireplaces in October
Fireplaces have always been a central feature of our homes. Whether a one-room hut or a palatial residence, the hearth was crucial to our survival as the only source of heat for warming our bodies and cooking our food. Even after the introduction of central heat and cook stoves, fireplaces have continued to be a feature in our homes. Often located in the formal living room or family room, these beautiful structures are enhanced with decorative mantels and tiled surrounds, making them architectural focal points.
As home construction and environmental concerns have evolved, the approach to building or installing a fireplace has changed. There seems to be a universal appeal to sitting around an open flame – but cozy and romantic as a wood fire may be, the old open-hearth wood burning fireplace is becoming obsolete. It’s being replaced by a more energy efficient, cleaner burning unit.
Three types of modern fireplace units exist for installation in both new and retrofit applications: wood-burning, gas and electric. Each of these is pre-built in a way to make them environmentally friendly and fuel efficient. As with most products, there is a wide range of quality and features to choose from, and each will hold a specific appeal, given the desired application. Research your options carefully to be sure you get the best unit for your needs and budget.
For those who love hauling, cutting and stacking wood, EPA-certified wood burning units allow you to still enjoy an open flame. Before installing this type of fireplace, however, check local codes to be sure it is allowed. Some areas in the country have started to ban wood burning fireplaces due to air pollution concerns. A great alternative to wood is a gas fueled fireplace. Gas units burn cleaner and have the advantage of instant on and off and heat control. They provide a real flame without the mess of wood handling. Both wood and gas options can produce enough heat to qualify as a back-up source to your primary heat source. Be aware that both require professional installation, as well as annual maintenance.
Many of us scoff at the idea of an electric fireplace, remembering those electric logs of past. But electric fireplaces have come a long way. New technology makes them fairly realistic looking and since they are non-vented, they can be placed almost anywhere in your home. Professional installation is not required – they simply plug in to a receptacle. Available in both heat and non-heat producing units, electric fireplaces are usable all year long.
Whether wood, gas or electric … find a unit that will work in your home, because October signals the season to get cozy in front of a fireplace. Grab a good book, relax, and enjoy one of the oldest amenities enjoyed by mankind.
Rebecca G. Lindquist is a certified master kitchen and bath designer and co-owner of Lindquist and Company, Kitchens and Baths. www.lindquistandcompany.com