If you have a gas fireplace in your home, you may be wondering whether or not it is cheaper to run it or your furnace. Cutting down on energy costs without sacrificing comfort is the forever dream – could a gas fireplace help you make it a reality?
Can You Use Fireplaces Instead Of Central Heating?
We answered a question just like this in our previous blog about space heaters: Using Space Heaters With Furnaces: What You Need To Know To Stay Safe And Save Energy. Just like with space heaters the answer is: it depends.
If your goal is to heat your entire house, then it would be more cost-effective to use your central heating system. If you have gas-powered fireplaces throughout your home, then these could help to heat your house, but they probably wouldn’t do as good of a job as your HVAC system.
However, if your goal is to just heat a room that you spend a lot of time in, then yes, using fireplaces instead of your central heating could help you save money. For instance, if your family spends a lot of time in the living room, turning the central heating down and turning the fireplace on provides you with warmth where you need it while allowing the rest of the house to be cooler.
So basically: fireplaces are best for zone heating, but not for heating your entire house. Plus, you could run into problems if you tried to switch to solely using fireplaces in the winter. We’ll get more into that below.
Why You Shouldn’t Use Fireplaces Instead Of Your Furnace
Using fireplaces as supplemental heating is excellent. It can help you cut down on your energy costs when you turn your thermostat down and use the fireplace to heat the room that you’re in. They can also help you in the event of HVAC problems, so that even if your central heating system isn’t working, you can have heat while you wait for it to get fixed.
That said, you shouldn’t expect your fireplaces to replace your central heating system. Cozy as fireplaces may be, they’re not the same.
As previously mentioned, fireplaces can help you save money when you turn your thermostat down and use them for zone heating. However, if your goal is to heat your home and not just a room, your fireplace won’t be nearly as efficient.
Technically, gas fireplaces are usually cheaper to run than a furnace, but that doesn’t mean they’re better. This is because a furnace is better at turning gas into heat than a fireplace is. For the comfort of everyone in your home, it’s best to use central heating.
Frozen pipes are already something homeowners worry about, so the last thing that you want to do is something that could make them more likely. Your central heating system can help to prevent this. This is because since it distributes heat throughout your home, it can prevent the temperature from dipping too low.
Fireplaces, on the other hand, don’t distribute heat throughout your house. Ergo, they’re not as effective as preventing frozen pipes as your HVAC system is.
Is It Okay To Use Both Your Fireplace And Your Furnace?
You can absolutely use both your gas fireplace and your central heating at the same time. When doing this, though, you’ll want to ask yourself a few questions.
For instance, are you turning to the fireplace because you feel like your central heating system isn’t doing its job? If this is the case, you’ll want to have your furnace looked at. A furnace in need of repair is more costly to run than one that is in good working order.
Do you feel like some rooms of your home get heated and others don’t? Do you feel like installing a gas fireplace in those colder rooms would be better? Your furnace should be heating your home evenly. If some rooms are colder than others, this likely means that, again, you should call an HVAC technician.
What do you want to accomplish? Do you just want a cosy atmosphere with some warmth? Or are you trying to compensate? You shouldn’t be turning to your fireplace in place of your furnace for warmth; it should be an added bonus.