With winter just around the corner, fall is a great time to start thinking about how homeowners in western New York can cut back on their winter heating bills. According to one recent news report, homeowners in New York State can expect significantly higher heating bills this year.

National Fuel, one of the leading utility companies in western New York, estimates that the average residential heat bill will increase by 43 percent from last winter. The rising cost of natural gas and expected colder temperatures mean that staying warm this year will probably come at a significantly higher cost.

Installing a fireplace is a great way to add supplemental heat while also adding charm and beauty to a custom home. Whereas central furnaces send heat to the entire home, a fireplace can allow you to turn down the thermostat while space heating a room where you spend most of your time on those cold, winter evenings.

If you are thinking about adding a fireplace to your custom home build, choosing between a gas vs. wood fireplace is probably one of the things on your mind. In this short article, we take a look at the pros and cons between a wood burning vs. gas fireplace so that you can find the option that is best suited for your home. 

Pros and Cons of a Wood vs. Gas Fireplace

Let's now look at the pros and cons of both wood and gas fireplaces. We’ll evaluate both of these popular fireplace options from several different vantage points. 

  • Cost
    In terms of cost, wood fireplaces generally tend to be more costly to install due to their weight, the need for large chimney vents, and the accompanying mantle. Though wood is generally locally available in New York, a cord of wood is most likely going to be more costly than what you´d pay in equivalent natural gas for a gas fireplace. In economic terms, gas fireplaces are currently cheaper, though the cost of natural gas may continue to rise in the future.

  • Environment
    Wood burning fireplaces are generally considered to be carbon neutral as the trees that yielded the firewood “captured” the carbon from the atmosphere while they were growing. Natural gas fireplaces on the other hand do add greenhouse gas emissions to the atmosphere. In urban spaces, however, inefficient wood burning fireplaces may add to high levels of air contamination.

  • Ease of Use
    Some people enjoy the winter chore of splitting wood, hauling it into the home, stacking it, and lighting it with old newspaper and kindling. Others, however, like the ease of a gas fireplace which only requires the touch of a button. In purely practical terms, gas fireplaces are certainly easier to use.

  • Maintenance
    Most gas fireplaces only require a yearly vent pipe inspection to ensure that the vent is debris-free. Wood burning fireplaces, on the other hand, require cleaning out soot and ashes after every use, and regularly monitoring creosote buildup to avoid potentially devastating chimney fires. 

Gas vs. Wood Fireplace Heat Output

Lastly, if one of the main reasons for installing a fireplace is to add supplemental heat to your home and thus cut back on your heating bills, it is important to look at which option is the most efficient for heating a home.

Traditionally, wood fireplaces were only rated at 10 to 15 percent efficiency. That meant that up to 90 percent of the heat escaped out the chimney without ever adding heat to your home. Gas fireplaces, on the other hand, tend to have higher efficiency ratings, depending mostly on how they are vented. A “one-pipe” vent gas fireplace can be expected to have a 50 percent efficiency rating while direct-vent gas fireplaces can achieve upwards of 90 percent efficiency.

Today, however, it is possible to find wood burning fireplaces that have decent efficiency ratings. Some of the top wood burning stoves even include catalytic converters and other upgrades to equal the best efficiency ratings of gas fireplaces. In general, however, gas fireplaces tend to be more efficient than their wood burning counterparts. 

Choose The Perfect Fireplace For Your Next Home With Natale Builders

If you think that a custom fireplace would be a great way to add a bit of charm to your home while also helping you to cut back on your monthly heating bills, both gas and wood burning fireplaces come with their own advantages and drawbacks.

Whatever option you choose, Natale Builders is the leading custom home builder in Western New York, and specializes in helping homeowners in western New York plan and build a home that will respond to all your needs. We have over 50 years of experience in building custom homes, and we are also proud to be an industry leader in Energy Star and Green Build designs for homes and neighborhoods.

Contact us
today to get started planning your dream home today!