Gas Fireplaces: A Hot Topic

Direct vent and vent-free gas fireplaces are both extremely efficient, and they’re getting even better with each passing year. However, not all homeowners and contractors know this, which means we often receive some of the same questions each fireplace season. With that in mind, we’ve put together this helpful FAQ guide to answer some of the most common questions we receive about gas fireplace efficiency.

Does a Gas Fireplace Use a Lot of Gas?

You’ll need to do some simple arithmetic to determine the amount of gas your fireplace will use. All fireplaces have factory-established BTU ratings to give you an idea of how much energy your fireplace puts out. These ratings are a measure of heat and gas use and can be compared to your gas supply to determine how much gas your fireplace will use per hour. With this number and fuel cost, you’ll be able to determine what it takes to operate your fireplace for an extended period of time.

Fortunately, both natural gas and propane fireplaces are generally considered to be inexpensive, with the former costing approximately $0.70/hour and the latter approximately $2.30/hour to operate on average. However, these costs can vary depending on factors such as the size of your fireplace, the length of time a unit operates and even your geographical location, so use these numbers as a rough estimate rather than an absolute measure. That said, affordability is one of the five reasons why we recommend investing in a gas fireplace, so keep that in mind.

Is It Okay to Leave the Pilot Light on in a Gas Fireplace?

Yes, you can leave your pilot light running in your fireplace. However, you may not want to. It really depends on how you’ll be using your fireplace. It will also depend on whether or not your fireplace features a standing pilot or an intermittent pilot ignition. As the name implies, an intermittent pilot ignition only burns when the fireplace is initially ignited, so you won’t need to worry about whether or not to turn off the pilot.

Leaving a pilot light on is perfectly safe and can even be beneficial for your unit. The constant flame provided by the pilot light keeps the pilot assembly free from insects and spiders, which means you won’t be cleaning out webs or nests. In addition, keeping the pilot light on also keeps the flue warm, which allows the fireplace to draft more efficiently when the fireplace is ignited.

Alternatively, some users choose to turn the pilot light off during long periods of non-use (during the summer, for example). Turning the pilot light off will save a small amount of money on fuel costs, approximately $5 to $10 per month on average. In addition, users who turn off their pilot flame will experience buildup on their fireplace glass less frequently. Finally, pilot flames do produce a small amount of heat. While the amount of heat generated is minimal, this added inefficiency may be undesirable during warm months.

How Much Heat Does a Gas Fireplace Put Off?

A gas fireplace can put off a significant amount of heat. Most fireplaces use ceramic front glass, which absorbs and radiates heat into a room. With the addition of a blower, a fireplace can heat a room even more efficiently.

While a gas fireplace doesn’t produce as much heat as a wood fireplace, it’s still an effective way to heat a room. Through a process known as zone heating, gas fireplaces efficiently warm a small area and take some of the load off of your primary heating system.

Is it Cheaper to Run a Fireplace or a Furnace?

While there are some exceptions, it’s unlikely a gas fireplace will completely replace your furnace. As mentioned above, gas fireplaces work most effectively when used for zone heating to supplement a furnace system.

That said, simply running a fireplace can reduce your energy costs. Operating a fireplace allows you to reduce the amount of energy required to heat your home with a furnace system, which saves you money in the long run.

Learn More About Gas Fireplaces

Want even more information about gas fireplaces? Check out our helpful blog for more articles like this one. You can also contact us by phone or email to speak with a product expert who can answer your questions in greater detail. We’re available Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Central Time to assist you.

We’re looking forward to working with you!