Upgrade That Pays

According to the National Association of Home Builders, fireplaces rank among the top three features desired by new homebuyers. Unfortunately, fireplaces are also major air gaps—they can send up to 8 percent of valuable furnace-heated air flying out the chimney, making them really fun to look at but inefficient as heating sources. Here's the good news: You can transform your firebox into an efficient room heater by adding an insert.

An insert, installed by a factory-trained professional (to ensure proper venting and best efficiency results), will draft-proof an open fireplace while the unit's shell keeps heat in the room and away from the masonry. The cost can can set you back about $2,000 to $4,000 (pro install included), depending on the state of your existing chimney (does it need relining?) and the model you select. But this investment pays for itself by slashing those monthly heating bills. Ready to start shopping? Here are 8 models to consider.
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