Climate Change and Fireplaces
Do you know why electric fireplaces are superior to gas when it comes to battling climate change? If not, you’re not alone. Your clients definitely don’t understand this, either. Frankly, clients aren’t always interested in ‘climate change’ per se, but rather how it impacts their day to day lives. Whether you and your clients are trying to be more environmentally-aware or just make good design choices, you need to understand how climate-change trickles down to a fireplace decision. Here are the basics, in simple terms:
• Governments at all levels in most developed nations are committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions. One of the ways that they are doing this is to update building codes to mandate the construction of more energy-efficient homes and buildings.
• This translates into new and remodelled homes with better insulation, better doors & windows with fewer air gaps, and more efficient heating and cooling, all of which saves energy.
• These energy-efficient homes don’t have as many cold spots, even in basements. So, if you add a fireplace that is pumping out heat, the room will become uncomfortably hot. When that happens, you will turn off the fireplace. (This is the part that many homeowners understand, especially if they already have a gas fireplace.)
When a gas fireplace is turned on, it emits heat whether you need it or not. The flame is the source of heat, so the only way to turn the heat off is to turn off the flame. You can control the amount of heat to some extent, but there will always be some heat emitted. Also, as you lower the heat output, you are also reducing the flames, which affects the appearance of the fireplace.
With an electric fireplace, the flame is not the source of heat. This means that you can have the fireplace turned on without having any heat at all. When you need heat, an electric fireplace will warm up 400 – 1000 square feet, depending on the model and electrical connection.
For those concerned with use of resources, the electric fireplace is more efficient than gas because 100% of the heat output is directed into the room, and because you don’t have to have the heater turned on. Since there is no venting, nothing is lost to the atmosphere. A gas fireplace is inherently less efficient, because it must be vented, which results in heat loss. Also, an efficient flame is blue, but a desirable flame is yellow, so gas fireplaces are less efficient by design, simply to make them look good.
Understanding these differences, and being able to communicate them to your clients, will make you the expert in your clients’ eyes, which can only add to the value you are providing to them.