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Green Fireplace Options

I’ve been thinking lately about fireplaces and their impacts on homes. First, speaking as a reformed cold climate Yankee let’s take the “need” for a fireplace off the table here in Austin, TX. Fireplaces are not in homes built in 2008 because we need their heat. Nostalgia maybe, heat no.
Next, building high performance homes means very tight air envelopes so in regard to fireplaces we need to be sure that our chimney dampers close very tighly and we’re not having air loss up our chimneys. If you opt for a gas fireplace always get the vented versions that have a combustion air intake and exhaust. We don’t want any of that burned natural gas getting into house air. Also, please spend the extra $100-150 and get the auto lighter so you don’t have a standing pilot. I’ve heard those pilot lights cost $5/month in gas usage just to be ready at a moments notice to turn on the flames. The picure here is of a Lennox Montebello frameless gas fireplace. It’s a metal firebox with a pretty good looking logset and it has an electronic ignition (no pilot flame). It fit quite well with this modern home we built. For even better effeciency I’d recommend putting your fireplace outdoors. There is no insulation reduction, no chimney to leak, and no potential for CO2 gas to get into your house. For Austin Energy’s Green Building Program a direct-vented gas fireplace gives 2 points, no fireplace inside gives 1 point. Just my current thoughts here… – Matt Risinger